Many article are written about sales but they tend to assume either a sales person is selling into one account, or a handful of accounts. What if you are selling into 100s or 1000s of accounts? 

The word I would always use when managing teams that had a territory of 100s or 1000s of accounts was "coverage".  How as a salesperson do you get coverage of your territory? 

How are you going to speak to as many people as you can in the short time you have, after-all the average salesperson has only 200 days to make their number.

Cold calling?

Most of you reading this will know that cold calling has had its day, we all know it's not efficient or effective and does not build trust or relationships.  Many of us decision makers just don't take cold calls anymore and from the feedback I get from sales people it just does not work. Period.  I don't take cold calls and you are welcome to try that out.

In case you missed it, the Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch have banned cold calling and have moved all their people to social selling. This isn't some trendy tech company that might have decided to do this on a whim, this is a very conservative financial services company that has made a decision based on data.

But surely cold calling has a better ROI than social selling?  Not according to Merrill Lynch.

"They will also be encouraged to contact prospects over LinkedIn, which has a higher hit rate than cold calling"


I have to laugh when I get emails, I had some "digital marketing agency" email me the other day, they told me how at the cutting edge they were.  Now email marketing is from the 1990s, it's 30 years old, they doesn't make you very cutting edge, maybe they are still using faxes and Sony Walkmans?

Hubspot, (who sell email marketing systems so have a vested interest to talk email marketing up), admit that email marketing has a 98% failure rate.  Hubspot benchmark report here.  It's not surprising as a person's inbox is probably the most busiest thing around today.  At my corporate role I got over 110 emails a day and talking to a CMO recently, he had over 110,000 unread emails.

(By the way if you send me unsolicited emails, I always create rules so you don't need to bother sending all those "did you get my email" follow ups, as the rules automatically will take those follow up email to the bin.  Life is hard as a salesperson today!)

Let's think about sales for a second

Think about all the deals you have done over time, what is the one single thing that will have created that sales?  A conversation.

The problem is that cold calling and email does not create conversations.

Let's dream ....

How about we could create some conversations and get some sales?

How about tomorrow, I pick you up in my car and I take you to a place where all your prospects hang out?

There is no time limit on how long you spend there, you can have conversations with your prospects all day.

When you arrive at this place with all your prospects how would you approach it?

Grab a coffee and go up to the first one and start a conversation? Yes?

"Have you travelled far?" "How did you get here?" you would find areas of commonality, yes?

As sales people, we all know why.  Because people will know us, like us and trust us.

The other great thing about having a room full of our prospects is that ..... it's a room full of our prospects. 

Now that would be great wouldn't?

How about if I tell you this happens to be LinkedIn

This is exactly how a social network works.  We have conversations.

Now you wouldn't walk into that room with all your prospects and go "I'm Tim Hughes and roll up, roll up and buy some social selling and the first 5 people in a line will get a discount".

Of course you wouldn't as somebody would call security.

But that is exactly what you are doing when you bring your cold calling and email marketing techniques to a social network.

How to get conversations in your territory

Salespeople need buyer centric social media profiles

There is a joke "how can you tell a salesperson is lying?" "their lips are moving".

Your sales people need to look like people who your customers would turn to for help and advice.

The first thing you need to create is a buyer centric profile, so you don't look like all the other salespeople, but somebody that can help your territory. 

We teach salespeople how to have a buyer centric profile as part of our social selling and influence training and coaching program. 

You need a network

The other issue salespeople have is that they have never invested in growing a network, their connections on LinkedIn will be x colleagues and recruitment consultants.  

For you to sell into your territory, you need to be connected to the relevant people in the accounts you are trying to influence.  I have one sales guy who is connected to 1,000 people in one single account.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  Otherwise, get connecting to people across your territory.   

Now before you you go off and get your sales people to fire off connection requests.  When your salespeople connect with people, the other person needs to want to connect.

(A connection request saying "I'm your sales person and want to connect" will be ignored).

We teach salespeople how to connect on social, as part of our social selling and influence training program.  

Let's also not forget that a connection request is also a reason to have a conversation, which is the whole point of this exercise.  LinkedIn allows you to connect to 100 people a week, so use them and use them as 100 reasons to have a conversation and 100 possible calls and 100 possible proposals.  Of course, that could be 100 possible sales. 

How to scale your influence across your territory

The third thing is that the salespeople need to create their own authentic content, this will demonstrate their expertise and the way they work.

Your clients, to buy into your company need to buy into your people, not your brochures and with the salespeople sharing their expertise, in content they have written themselves will enable the clients to start, knowing, liking and trusting the salespeople.

Also the engagement that they get will allow the salespeople to have conversations and as we discussed before, conversations create sales.

Content allows you to scale up across your territory

This post by Eric Doyle on the team, has got 165 likes, 37 comments and 18,292 views.

Let's not forget that this took him ten minutes to create.

By using content, you can scale up across your territory.  

Many people think that engagement is "vanity" it isn't its gold.

Here are a bunch of people that have "said" they have something in common with you and that is an excuse to have a conversation.

Now I'm not saying you need to post humanised content all the time, but, it will get you the most engagement.  Engagement is your excuse to contact people and have conversations with people.  Posting corporate posts won't get you engagement, and no engagement means you have no excuses to have conversations with people.

Corporate content WILL NOT give you pipeline. 

I'm currently coaching a sales guy from a supply chain software company and he has just got his first piece of inbound.  This is somebody coming to him and saying the have a supply chain issue and can he help.  Not the company can help, but this person.  Just think about how much less outbound you would need to make if you are getting inbound and think about how much more pipeline you will have if you scale this across your business. 

We teach people how to create content as part of our social selling and influence training and coaching. 

Running a territory

Running a territory is hard work, getting to, literally hundreds or thousands of decision makers is hard work.

But social selling will give take on the "heavy lifting" and is the only demand generation methods that will allow you to scale across your territory, while building trust and creating conversations at the same time. 

Our social selling and influence course, will give you the digital skills to enable you to manage and scale up your territory.