Here at DLA Ignite, we decided a few years ago that we need to have some level of "official" certification for our social selling program.

One thing that irritated us was that people started posting certificates on social media with the comment "I'm now a social seller" when you could see from their LinkedIn profile and their actions on social media that clearly they were not social sellers.

The market was not crying out for a certificate of attendance, our research showed that sales leaders and learning and development leaders wanted an accredited qualification.

There are too many people that offer "quick fix" training, Linkedin training, hints and tips or masterclass training and the outcome is, well, unlikely to move the needle.  There is a lot of people offering training, but does it really make an impact?

Why did the ISP choose DLA Ignite for it's exclusive social selling program?

At the same time as we were thinking this the Institute of Sales Professionals (ISP) was looking around for a partner to supply the digital part of their continual professional training for salespeople.  The ISP did an evaluation of the market and choose DLA Ignite as the company that would exclusively provide the training program.  What's cool is that that the ISP is a government recognised body and fully accredited awarding body and endpoint assessor for sales qualifications.

(Worth noting that DLA Ignite have partners that we have accredited to provide this training and they are fully supported by DLA Ignite and ISP.)

So why should you get your team trained?

Patrick Joiner, Managing Director of the ISP said on this livestream

"What we recognize is that, it that the last two years of COVID lockdown has absolutely catapulted us into the era of digital selling. And it is a skillset many salespeople are still grappling with, and maybe haven't fully mastered. And what's clear, all the research is telling us that more and more buyers are making more of their purchasing decisions entirely digitally, that they are shortlisting potential suppliers digitally, that they're identifying potential solutions digitally. And that sales professionals, must have a professional presence in the digital space or a going to be missing out on a lot of business. So we are really keen to work with suppliers and providers of training in the digital space to enable our members and other sales professionals, top skill themselves in this important area."

Patrick went on to say

"there's lots of activity that goes on in the name of sales training and most of it is good, but there is a degree of inconsistency, there is a degree of confusion for the buyer. What's good?  What isn't good.?  And for us, what is important is consistently high standards, and more than that, it's also being able to demonstrate, first of all, actually a meaningful acquisition of knowledge, but more importantly, a meaningful application of knowledge at the end of any learning process that people go through."

This subject of knowledge acquisition is critical.  For example, did anything happen after the last "hints and tips" session you ran?  I doubt it.

Patrick develops this point.

"So one of the things that we hold very close to our hearts is some kind of measurement of knowledge acquisition and knowledge transfer as a prerequisite for a program that we are going to endorse or accredit. So for us, that was a real attraction to your program amongst the others that we also approve because it forces the learner really to demonstrate how they're taking the skills they've acquired during the program and they're putting it into practice in the workplace. And for us, that gives us the satisfaction of knowing that a program is robust and really delivers value to the purchaser."

After all knowing and doing are two very different things.

Business benefits of training your team

1.  Sales people retainment - You are more likely to retain salespeople you invest in.  In all our research with our customers salespeople say that the number one thing they look for in an employer is a business that will invest in them.  And will give them the modern skills they need to make their quota.

2. Sales people recruitment - Similar to the above, if you are going to attract the best salespeople they are going to want to understand how they will make their number and investment from you is key.

Patrick Joiner says

"The social selling qualification addresses the needs of employers and individual sales professionals, because employers, and positioning yourself as an employer of choice is really important. And the first port of call that people usually go to is, well, I'll just double the salary or whatever incremental they need to put. Clearly that's not a sustainable model."

He also went onto say

"A lot of employers are now looking to be able to demonstrate to potential salespeople how they're going to add value to their career. Why am I going to be better off after working for you than I would be to one of your competitors? And supporting people in their own professional development, giving them transferable qualifications, which have currency beyond the walls of the business that they're working in today is a really important way to demonstrate as an employee or adding value to your people.

So it's supporting people in their professional development that it's supporting employers and being able to attract and retain the best talent and get the best from them whilst they're there."

3. Social selling is about revenue and EBITDA - We understand that suppliers out there will tell you it's about like, clicks and "going viral".  From day one, the DLA Ignite program has always been about using social selling to create leads and meetings, using social selling to accelerate deals within your pipeline and using social selling to close more deals.  Everything we do is about driving you more revenue and EBITDA. 

4. This certificate will give you a competitive advantage - Your sales people will have the gold standard of digital selling, which will mean you will be head and shoulders above your competition.  Walking the digital corridors and having digital conversations. 

5. Accessing markets in new territories - How do you break into new accounts? Especially those where they are deeply in bed with your competition?

6. Supporting ABM - How do you sell more to your existing clients and make sure you have the competitive strategies in place to keep your competition out

7. Faster sales contribution of new hires - By hiring something that has been through our social selling program will mean they already understand how to have digital conversation in digital corridors.  They will already have an active network, so they will be able to hit the ground running.  In other words, they will start contributing faster. 

Why social selling qualification?

In the past there were sales methodologies, some of them are over 30 years old.  Even those that have been created in the last decade, none of them have social at their core and while they might have social as a "bolt on" none of them have been built during the social landscape.  

In fact many sales methodologies are promoting what are not seen as "medieval practices". 

What's been created?

Back to Patrick from the APS.

"DLA Ignite has worked with the APS education division, to a qualification framework.  So we've looked at what do we believe has to be in place to be able to say, yes, somebody has reached a standard of competence and ability in social selling. We've looked at how are we then going to evaluate whether or not people have met that standard.

If somebody does a program and achieves the standard to pass, it has direct comparability with somebody who's done the same program with a different trainer, in a different organization, in a different part of the world. As an individual, you know that the standard you've met is consistent. And really that's what qualifications are about.  It's about being able to demonstrate that if I've got this certificate in social selling, it means exactly the same as if somebody else has it somewhere else, so that actually it now has universal currency. It actually means something.

But we've been working hard to get that consistency into the content, that consistency into the delivery, that consistency into the evaluation of learning. So that you've got a credible and meaningful qualification just as our degrees, our A-levels, our doctorates, whatever level of education we've reached, they have that consistency and that external validity. So it's not just a training company saying, "We believe what we've done is marvelous." There's actually an external validation to say, "Yeah, this meets the standard.""

Why do we need it?

Patrick for the ISP sums it up nicely.

"So the ISP already has its existing suite of qualifications in sales and sales management.  And whilst many of those programs have elements of social selling, or at least a nod towards the area of the digital space, none of them are primarily focused on it. And as I said before, I think that the need for salespeople to have these skills, to be able to perform in this space, to be able to stand out more than perform, the challenge with the digital space is that in a 15-inch square, everybody can look like IBM. So how am I as a salesperson? Or how am I going to cut through and stand out as being different from my competitors? If I get face-to-face with them, I've got some skills and knowledge that will help me do that. But actually what I'm now realizing is that I've got to get through the door to see them.

And back to the points we were making earlier, that first contact is probably going to be happening digitally. It may well be happening without us even knowing that it's happening. So what is the digital footprint that we are creating for ourselves, that's going to enable us to stand out and make our customers want to talk to us? And it's such an important skill that I think it's important that we establish a standard and a criteria against which people's abilities can be evaluated and graded, because then if you are an employer and somebody turns up with this qualification in their hand, you know what it means they can do. And if I'm a salesperson and I want to get a job, I can demonstrate my knowledge through the piece of paper."

How do you get a social selling qualification backed by the ISP?

Patrick from the ISP explains.

"So they would always go, as with all of our qualifications, the relationship between the learner and the deliverer is through the training organization. So in this instance, they'll be coming to yourselves, DLA Ignite, they'd be saying, "I want to acquire the ISP qualification." You would then register the students with us. You'd go through the program, we'd go through the assessment process. So the point of contact, the relationship is with us as awarding body, to the training organization, and from the training organization, direct to the learner."

In other words, contact us at DLA Ignite, or one of our partners and resellers. 

Frequently asked question (FAQ)

"Within a standard that focuses on uniformity, providing a trusted quality mark, how do apprentices then show excellence?" 

You want a qualified seller, you also want them to be excellent. And you're absolutely right, the point of a qualification, if it has any meaning is that it gives the learner the opportunity to demonstrate that they know what excellence is, and they know how to reach that standard. It's not just a tick box to say that somebody's completed a program. There is a pass- fail scenario here so that if people don't reach the standard, they don't mark, they don't pass. So that you know if somebody has achieved a qualification, they've achieved a certain standard.

Unless you know how to apply that knowledge. Unless you know how to leverage that knowledge you've been given. Knowledge is not power, knowledge is just the access to power if you know how to use it.

Now Imagine .....

Imagine, I pick you up tomorrow in my car and drive you to a place which is full of your prospects and customers.  All you have to do is go up and have a conversations with them.

Remember, social media is, social media.  In the past you interrupted somebody with a cold call or an email and pitched your services.  As social media is being social on media, interrupting and pitching does not work.

If I walked up to you at a social event and pitched, you would make your excuses and go and talk to somebody else. 

So how about tomorrow, I pick you up in my car and we go to a place where all your prospects are hanging out.  You can stay as long as you want.  All you have to do is have a conversation with them.  It's that simple, if you are interested, read on. 

What is social selling?

Here at DLA Ignite, we define social selling as

"Using your presence and behavior on Social Media to build influence,
make connections, grow relationships and trust, which leads to
conversation and commercial interaction."

It's not witchcraft, it's enabling your salespeople to work from home, (or the office) and create conversations with prospects and customers.  Conversations on social media and conversations that convert. 

The problem with the name "social selling" is that people think that this is selling on social.  All these pitches that you get on social are not social selling, they are spam.

The other thing you need to know about social selling is that this isn't about "putting out some videos" or "putting flowers on your profile" or "going viral" this is about revenueEBITDA, you winning business from the competition and having a competitive advantage. 

With anything you do on social there are two questions you need to ask

1. How many leads / meetings / conversations will I get from this post / blog / activity?

2. How much revenue / EBITDA am I getting as a business?

So who's social selling?

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"

The CRO (chief revenue officer), Richard Eltham of Namos Solutions, of one of clients posted a comment on LinkedIn about social selling. See here.

“Social selling is not an option now it is the way of the world and you either learn and execute it or fear getting left behind” 

Kevin Murray who is the Head of Sales at MacArtney Underwater Technology recently posted about his success with social selling here and wrote an article about the transformation that has happened in sales here.

Andrew Ferrier who is the CEO of Display Technology Ltd and in this article it talks about why Display Technology have adopted social selling.  His team have also created a social media strategy with help from our partner, Crux.

Their social media mission statement is

“We want to position ourselves as a forward-thinking, knowledgeable team of individuals who are all experts in our own right, therefore, collectively awesome!”

Andrew also says in that post

"Adopting this (social selling) strategy has taken all of us well outside of our comfort zones but the rewards we have seen in a short period of time have created an excitement within the business development team (new term for sales team).

Because of the nature of social media, quite often you can get instant results. Even if that is just a comment left on your post, or a like, or someone taking the time to want to connect with you.

The excitement around the sales team is infectious, it’s no longer a chore to reach out to the market place because the results can be instant and are there, right in front of you."

What sort of results can you expect?

If you check out this video of Chris Mason CEO at Oracle reseller Namos, and DLA Ignite customer, fast forward to 19 minutes 55 seconds. Chris talks about a $2.6 million win from being on social, after completing the DLA Ignite social selling and influence course. 

What happened?  They buyer was on social media looking for a solution to their problem, spotted one of the Namos salespeople, who had a buyer-centric profile and asked if the salesperson could help them.  That turned into a $2.6 million deal. 

Contact any of the DLA Ignite team, Eric, Adam, Nick, Vanessa, Lorena, Priscilla, Lenwood, Alex and they will be more than happy to help.

Go and look at their LinkedIn profiles .... look how they can have digital conversations, create insightful content.  This could be your company! 

We are the only social selling and influence company in the world to offer a certificate in social selling sponsored by the Institute of Sales Professionals (ISP).

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