The year was 1965 and John Lennon wrote the song Nowhere Man, which was an introspective about his life at that time. He was asking himself; “Where am I going?”
Where am I going is a question all corporate leaders should be asking themselves today about their company’s commitment to Social Selling. If you are not committed to it, if your sales team is not actively participating in it, you will become a Nowhere Man, and the positive revenue growth you expect from your sales team will likely become a slow decent into frustration and declining sales.
Take a look at a few of the Lennon lyrics below and ask yourself, if this is how you view the world of Social Selling;
Nowhere man, please listen (are you listening and observing what is going on around you)
You don’t know what you’re missing (do you realize that buying decision are 57% complete before you hear of them and you are missing out on sales opportunities)
Nowhere man the world is at your command (this is your opportunity to beat the competition to the sale and grow your revenue)
Or does this describe you?
He’s as blind as he can be Just sees what he wants to see.
If this is your view of the opportunity that Social Selling offers and if this describes you and your company, you need to set a new path for your company and Sales Team. Like Lennon, if you are asking yourself were your company is going, if you’re looking for new ways to generate revenue, find new business opportunities and make your company more relevant, you need to explore Social Selling today.
The world of Social Selling can be at your command, all it takes is a little introspection on your part and a willingness to take the blinders off and see what you are missing.
This is one of the most asked questions we get and deserves a proper answer. So here it is.
The idea that the entire sales process is now conducted online is simply a fallacy (That should put millions of professional sales people at ease). Will it get to that point remains to be seen, but even if it does — human interaction and professional selling skills will always be in demand and critical in helping customers make informed decisions.
Sales is comprised of what we like to call phases and has been traditionally captured by use of this sales funnel as the example. For all of you sales people this is old hat and hopefully you follow this model every day with every lead.
For all of you senior managers, executives and owners, this will help you to make sense of all the noise.
Sales phases take us through the customer journey from lead to close and depending on how complicated or simple your sales process is, can have many phases. Going into an in-depth definition of these phases and why they are so important to sales is not the point here.
Suffice it to say that these phases are as important now as they were before customers began researching everything online. The difference is that by the time they enter the sales process they are usually much further along and much better qualified, improving sales conversions but more importantly reducing sales cycles and COSTS.
Ah, now it gets interesting. Social sales is not about what we do to help a customer through the sales process. It’s not about all the professional sales skills needed to help a customer make an informed and successful decision. It’s about how we got them into the sales process in the first place!
Traditional interruption based sales relied on activities such as cold calling, trade shows, email blasts (more commonly referred to as spam). These activities along with others are still in use and even relied upon by many, however they simply don’t provide the results they used to.
It’s really that simple. Customers and key contacts no longer answer phones, in fact many will outright tell you that. Trade shows have become more expensive while returning much less in the way of leads. They are now more important from a promotional perspective, ie, promoting new products, technologies and services to markets.
Email marketing has been less and less effective for quite awhile now for many reasons that range from government legislation to anti spam technologies. The final nail in this coffin is the fact that email is being used less and less as organizations use real time social tools to communicate with staff, vendors, suppliers and customers.
Of course not, in fact the phone is still a very important tool even though it’s more likely a smart phone than the traditional desktop model.
The difference is we use it after the customer and the lead have been developed through social engagement.
By the way, while the idea of cold calling through endless lists of contacts until we get a few meetings is hopefully losing any value. Cold calling can still be an effective way to try and reach a target and researched contact that you are not able to reach any other way.
Think of social sales as the funnel OVER your traditional sales funnel. It provides the leads and engagement we all so desperately need but in a much more productive, informative and effective methodology.
Hopefully this helps to put to rest the question of what Social Sales is and why it is so important.
Selling skills are still critical to the success of your sales team but they won’t matter much if they have zero leads and potential customers to engage with!!!
Written by Thomas Ross — @TRsocialselling || @ExpoSalesLtd
Recently I ran into an old friend of mine. A few decades ago (I’m not saying what decade), we both completed the Xerox training course together. Suffice to say that the “media” used for the course was cassette tapes! We had some time to burn while in an airport waiting between flights, so we had dinner and discussed how things have evolved in our industries.
She is now the VP of Sales for a large manufacturer, and responsible for a sales team that is truly global. We began to discuss the brave new world of “Social”. At first, she was quite unimpressed by it. She had no problem questioning my sanity along with my logic, and I can’t say I blame her. It was only 18 months ago that I had begun the journey of understanding this evolution in communication and how it has impacted businesses. I remember being in her shoes. At first, it simply did not make sense to me either, and I told her how I initially thought it was just an easy way out for sales people. They did not want to make cold calls so they would find an easier way.
Well, turns out “they” were on to something. The more I understood it the more I realized it was me that was out of sync. Before we began to evolve, our work with new sales agents was a challenge as we simply did not get them and they sure did not get us. Since then, our experience with working with those much aligned millennials has improved dramatically. So have our results. As they are now represented in every area and level of business globally, this is clearly a good thing!
As we continued to catch up, it became abundantly clear that my friend was still managing and training her teams as though it was still 2004. Both her and her teams are using modern systems, but their methodologies and results have not kept up. As I listened, her biggest challenge was that revenue growth was not keeping up with the cost of sales — no matter what or where they spent on marketing.
We had a rather amusing and long discussion about our experiences with millennials and both agreed that it was not them, it was us! The one thing she did learn some years back (and before me) was how to work more effectively with this demographic, or rather, how to let them do their thing, their way. So you’d think this would have led to her catching up to the world of Social, however while her organization had changed to work better with their teams they still had not changed their methodologies or kept up with how their customers buy.
So, while we continued to laugh at how bad we are with all the new technologies, we both now understood it was not how they were used, but “why”.
The most enjoyable part of our catching up and discussion was having fun talking about the success’s we had along the way. Our success’s were always about leveraging the best of both technology and systems to efficiently get to our goals without breaking the bank. I could tell you about how we both used to call each other on car phones that were bigger than bricks, but you get the idea.
Funny, as we laughed about our success’s and failures we realized they were almost all predicated on how ahead or behind we were with our competitors. This was just about always the difference on the big industry shifts, those who can both foresee and adapt will usually win.
Yes technology has changed, but that’s not the take away because we all know that. What has dramatically changed is how our customers become customers. It’s not through trade shows, it’s not often through a cold call or email, it starts online, period.
We agreed to connect again, just to remember the old days of selling.. When it wasn’t just about how many calls you could make, it was about how many objections you could answer and still get the sale!! Those good ol’ days of handling objections… you would have failed the Xerox course if you could not answer “6” objections efficiently and effectively. Hard to overcome objections these days, when no one is answering their phones!
What does this mean? This is the year that those stragglers still critical of this evolution will finally realize it’s not a fad or another phase. To all of those not yet sure, that breeze you feel is your competition moving past you.
Social is not just critical for sales, it permeates every part of an organization, improving communication and human relationships across all boundaries. Leveraging and becoming social is akin to learning how to swim. Some organizations will sink, many others will dog paddle (staying in place), while a select few will learn the power stroke.
What can “Social” mean across the organization? (in layman’s terms)
I am an avid collector of vinyl records. I have had a fascination with them since I first started collecting in the 1960’s. I was working for a rail company as a Redcap (carrying customer baggage for them), and I would get tips that I then converted into vinyl records. Everyday I would go into the record store and browse the thousands of records wondering which ones should I buy today. In those days LP records cost $2.98, so I was able to buy 2 every working day. I soon had a great collection and continued to add to it oven the ensuing years.
The came the fateful day in 1987. I was sitting on the veranda at the great Pinehurst Golf and Country Club in North Carolina and reading an article in the newspaper; The Death of Vinyl Records. I was stunned thinking this can’t be! It seemed at that time that a new form of recording was coming to the market called CD’s. I immediately decided that I would quote my Father when he said: “The Beatles will never last.” Of course, CD’s would not become the go to listening format.
Well as we all know, they did and now they are a thing of the past for the most part as well. Digital downloads and music streaming sites have taken over and who knows where it will lead to next.
I write this because I am seeing a similar disruption and transformation taking place in the world of Social Media today. Social Media is becoming the go to form of communicating, purchasing, researching, etc. for society. Whether we like it or not it, is here to stay and will continue to evolve and integrate itself into all areas of our life. The question is; will we embrace this form of media or will we continue to play our old vinyl records?
As a business person, I am continually surprised by the fact that business people use cell phones, email, online purchases, etc., but have not made the business transition to Social Selling and Marketing. They play those vinyl records without seeing that the world has moved on. Cold calling, emailing and unannounced drop by visits are old school. Business today is being done more and more on Social and if you are not there, then you are missing out on a high percentage of opportunities to grow your business.
This doesn’t mean that you abandon your sales force or marketing department. It means that you give them new tools to drive your business. There is still a need to make sales calls. There is still an need to educate from a marketing perspective. The difference is that the opportunities are uncovered using Social, because that is where your customers are today, and if you are not there, you will miss out.
What do some of those tools look like?
I have not abandoned my addiction to vinyl, but I also understand it is harder to find it (although it is making a bit of a comeback), and therefore I need to embrace music streaming, because the opportunity to listen to 100,000,000 songs is available to me as opposed to the limited opportunity I have with my vinyl collection. The same in business, we do not abandon the opportunity to meet with people and sell them our product, but the process of using social increases the number of opportunities to create new relationships and therefore the opportunity to drive our business.
I was listening to a discussion recently about how cold it can get in Winnipeg, Canada in the winter. It’s true, Winnipeg is one of the coldest cities on the planet. The temperatures in the winter will reach 40 below C/F — add in the wind and you can get temperatures in the minus 50C range or more. On the other hand, you will not find a nicer place to be in the summer. Temperatures are moderate and there is not humidity.
OK, so why am I writing about Winnipeg?
It’s because when it’s that cold, people avoid our city. Tourism is obviously limited, and even the residents do not walk around. When it’s summer, the city is a haven for tourists and everyone wants to be outside and meet each other.
If you are wishing to build your business in the social arena today, this is a good analogy for you. If you’re not participating, then you are like our frozen city — no one can or will engage you. You can’t be found, and you will float silently away into the dark.
If on the other hand you are engaged in social media, like the summers in Winnipeg, you will be found and people will engage with you!
It is your decision, but the consequences are clear. Ignore at your peril and engage to your delight.
The unfreeze/refreeze model is one of the simplest models for understanding organizational or social change. Kurt Lewin developed it; a physicist turned social scientist. Because of his professional background, he used physical science analogies to help explain social phenomena.
His analogy deals with changing the shape of a block of ice. Say your brother-in-law has a large cube-shaped block of ice. He brought it home with the intention of making a round tire-shaped ring of ice with cherries in it to float in a big punch bowl. You tell him, “Hey, that’s no good, it’s the wrong shape.” So, now he wants to change the shape.
If he attempts to force the ice into a round ring, he’s not going to have much success. He can squeeze it as much as he wants, or pound it with a hammer. Most likely it will shatter. If he tries to use force to make the change, it will be resisted. Why? Because that block of ice is a system made up of interrelated H2O crystals in a latticework that will resist being changed. So, what can he do to make the frozen H2O more receptive to a change in shape? Obviously, he can make it liquid. He melts it in a large pan on the stove and it ends up as a great big puddle of water. At least now, it is in a form that is amenable to change. But the shape he wants it to be in is a round ring. So, he pours the liquid water into a circular mold. It’s still the same chemical compound as it was when it was ice, but now it has a new shape. Unfortunately, it won’t hold this shape. If he picks it up (as your crazy brother-in-law might do), it will pour all over the floor. In order to make it keep its new shape, he refreezes it. He adds cherries to it and puts it in the freezer. After he refreezes it, he can take it out and plop it into his punch bowl. He has successfully converted a cube of H2O into a tire-shaped ring of ice with cherries around its circumference.
The three stages he went through are unfreezing, change and refreezing. You can use the same three stages to describe any change in an organization, and especially a social change. The problem is, in an organization, we often forget one of the three steps. Typically, we forget Step One, or Step Three. We remember Step Two — we make the change — but we are never successful because there are three stages to consider, not one.
How do you unfreeze a sales organization so that it will accept change? In other words, how do you make the sales selling system receptive to change? How can the sales selling system be made to want to change if you are trying to install for example, a Social Selling program? The first thing you have to do is make the sales organization receptive to change, otherwise your sales organization, like that block of ice, will naturally resist change.
One strategy is focus on an area where there is already some feeling that things aren’t working out right, that is, to go where the hurt is. That where it will be more likely that change will be accepted. Another way of putting it is, “People gotta wanna change,” or there will be this natural resistance. Then go beyond it. Go not only to where the hurt is, but also to where the hurt should be felt, but may not be. What can you do to make your sales people recognize the need for change where it ought to be recognized? How can you get your sales people to see that there is something wrong, that there is need for change?
Let’s take a look at today’s sales situation. Today cold calling, spamming emails, unannounced sales calls and networking are ignored and distained. Companies are not providing their sales teams with the tools, know how and training to deal with this whole new world. So how do we unfreeze the current process?
Feeding back sales people’s opinions is one good way to begin the unfreezing process. The feedback technique makes the organization aware that there are problems, that people are upset, that morale is low, or that work attitudes and performance are not what they ought to be. That’s a form of unfreezing.
In a company, you could set up a committee to investigate a problem, to see if they can get enough data to unfreeze the organization. Or you could use a consultant to do the job.
Unfreezing is often missed in training programs, and particularly in sales training. People are simply sent to courses, but they don’t see any need to change and so unfreezing does not occur. They are not receptive to learning. Someone else is simply telling them that they should change their ways, but they don’t see any need to do so. Part of the problem is that the person may perceive the training program as focusing on changing her or him. In this person’s view, someone is saying, you have been doing the job wrong and you have to change.” Naturally, there is resistance. It is preferable by far, when the person sees it as an opportunity to learn new skills, to improve himself or herself or to do the job even better.
Management training often misses the mark because the person who is to learn new skills, or the organization that is to learn new skills wasn’t unfrozen. Some effort must be made to put the organization or individual in a state more receptive to change. They gotta wanna change.
In Step 2 you actually make the change. You propose the solution to the problem (a Social Selling System) that you may have identified or highlighted in Step 1. Then you get people doing it. You start your diet. You learn new skills. You make the change. Installing this change is the subject of Step 3.
This step is often missed. We get an employee to change his or her work habits, but then don’t refreeze that change. We put in a new Social Selling system in an organization, but we don’t refreeze the change. If we don’t refreeze, the change is likely to be temporary.
What’s refreezing? We have to do something to the system or the organization so that the change becomes a permanent part of its operation. We refroze the water so that it would hold its shape permanently. You have to do the same thing in an organization. Just because the change happened once doesn’t mean it will continually happen or that it will maintain itself. You’ve got to cement the change into the sales organization’s culture — into the way things are done in the sales organization.
This step is usually missed in management training programs. We teach people skills; we hope they will use them back on the job but we don’t build the use of these skills into the standard operating procedures of the sales organization. Suppose your organization wanted to implement Affirmative Action. How do you make the basic concepts and practices of Affirmative Action a permanent part of the organization’s work patterns? If you have a zero defects manufacturing program that you want to implement in your manufacturing plant, how do you make that change of focus in production a permanent part of the way things are done? By refreezing.
The strength of the unfreeze, change, refreeze model is in its simplicity. I think it gives very clear guidelines for implementing change. You’ve got to go through all three stages. Some stages may be very quick. You may go through the unfreezing stage almost instantaneously with somebody by saying, “Unless you change, you lose your job.” That may put the person into a state rather quickly of wanting to accept change, but it is still a stage and it can’t be missed.
You have to get the sales organization receptive to change. People must see that there is a need for change. Then you make the change. Once it’s done, do something to build it in as a permanent part of the organization. With skill training, where employees learn specific skills to use on the job, refreezing can happen simply because the employee uses the skills. The feedback the employee gets is that the skills work. The results are positive and the employee is more likely to continue using his or her new skills because they have been reinforced. That is why quick successful use of skills after a training program helps to refreeze change into the individual’s personal practices.
From the organizations perspective, Social is the empowerment of all of our people to communicate far beyond our brick and mortar walls. Social is, in fact, communication.
Whether we are simply choosing to ignore it’s power and impact, or whether we are truly leveraging this transformational change is the key question. For those organizations that “get it”, the world of growth and opportunity is already having an amazing impact. For those just starting the journey the results and changes are right around the corner.
Most organizations, however, still don’t “get it”. In fact many so-called social marketing companies who provide technology, still don’t “get it”. Frankly this amazes me — That a technology company providing tools for Social does not themselves as yet fully embrace it!
I would name names, but you know who you are! All one has to do is take a look at the profiles of your key teams and the content you are providing (outside of advertising and sales based marketing…).
Most sales professionals are starting to read the writing on the wall, but sadly (and clearly) the “C suite” is not yet getting it. Without this critical group understanding and embracing the power and relevance of this new phenomenom most organizations will arrive at the party long after it’s over!
I could list all the reports from Gartner, Harvard Business review and many others, but these are now common knowledge and readily available to anyone paying attention.
The opportunity to lead and own your markets has never been offered up so easily. Most of your sales leaders know this, even your marketing people know this. So why are most executives, owners, stakeholders and senior managers resisting and even ignoring social?
The answer is the same as it is for all disruptive forces, “Change”. Even as many companies see their cost of sales continue to rise against lower revenue forecasts, they continue to throw more money in the wrong pot. Why? Because they always have and change is tough. It takes true leadership to stand up and say, hey, what if we pulled some of our budgeted resources from trade shows & PPC marketing and actually trained our organization to be “Social”?
This is one of the key questions we ask clients as they begin their journey into the world of “Social” and social sales.
While our sales teams should be leading the way, our organizational online presence is still critically important! Further, its the combination of our sales teams and their social presence, along with that of all the individuals of our organization that makes us an organic and human organism.
Our clients, customers, prospects, friends and allies all have one thing in common, they are connected with us. Often this begins by finding us through this modern buying journey of searching for something or someone online. This first introduction to us can begin by seeing our website and all the great people on our team OR it can come from the great content which we are providing to our teams to be part of the content they too are contributing. This happens via links back to our website.
This is where things can become interesting or where sadly as in most cases, where leads go to die!
If we are not cultivating and developing our website interactions we are truly missing what we should be coveting most of all. For many companies this one of the missing pieces they need to address immediately if they are truly to leverage the world of social to properly connect with today’s new engaged and enlightened customers.
So what does this mean and how do we know if our website is active as the critical link in the social chain that it is?
So these are but of a start to the conversation which will help you either start or continue the journey of becoming a truly “Social” organization.
This is not a drill, the sirens of the future are blaring, can you hear them?