Exponential Sales Blog

Outside Sales, A Relic of the Past

We work with many organizations across North America with nearly all directly employing outside sales teams. In fact, we’ve trained and still work with many of these teams.

Wait up, I dropped my cards and it takes a while for me to pick these back up!

This traditional sales methodology has been around as long as I have been in sales — Having outside sales teams roaming the countryside looking for new customers is as old as the hills they climb.

Well, times they are a-changing! While we still very much need these sales professionals, (likely many more!) the nature of what they do and how they do it has radically changed. No longer does dropping in unannounced on a customer or prospect have the impact it used to. No longer does cold calling endless lists of target accounts and fighting through gate keepers return useful results. In fact all of these traditional sales techniques are for the most part, “over”.

So then, what’s the answer? Social sales and community building is the answer. The sooner organizations and their teams learn the art of “social” and it’s counterpart, “social selling”, the sooner we can all check our emails in 1 minute or less (no more pushing the delete button for 10 minutes!)

So this sounds good, but how does it work?

Much of the process remains the same, with some new elements along with much different execution. The familiar portion is in developing those organizations and contacts that we would like to communicate with and develop as interested, engaged opportunities.

The not so familiar is in providing them with content and information they may find both important and interesting on behalf of their organizations. From here it’s simply a matter of connecting the dots and engaging with customers who are truly interested and qualified.

However, if you’re not prepared to work hard on providing great content and much needed information to your customers, the results will be as lack lustre as your efforts.

600 Characters is all you'll ever need!

First Bulk Email, unknown software company, 1996

What are the results?

  • Significantly reduced sales cycles
  • Much higher closing ratios
  • Far less time on the road
  • Much lower cost of sales
  • Much more time available to support and help customers

It’s not about working less, it’s about driving less and working smart!

Written by Thomas Ross  — @TRsocialselling || @ExpoSalesLtd

Are You Social Selling or Social Marketing?

Originally Posted on Social-Experts.net By Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

If you didn’t know, social selling is a reaction to the self-educated buyer. But in spite of the name, it is not selling on social. It’s subtler than that.

Let’s start at the beginning.

This isn’t about social selling vs cold calling.  We as sellers no longer call the shots.  Buyers have access to the internet, and start their buying process on-line. They research your products and services, your competitor products and service, they can also look you up.

We all do it, and so do our prospects.

There are many gurus out there who will offer you social selling programs and while they fit under a social selling umbrella they are in fact about social marketing.

So what’s the difference?

Social marketing courses will teach you about demand generation.  How to get meetings and leads.  All good stuff, but they won’t explain how to use social to progress pipeline, nurture pipe and take clients through to close by using social.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. We all need more leads and meetings and at DLA we can teach you that. But once you have created the lead how do you use social through the sales cycle?

You can accelerate the pipe using social, (over non-social pipe) a subject of a previous blog of mine, with case study examples.

So, social selling does mean a different way of working.  Which actually requires you as sellers to empower buyers to buy.  None of us likes being sold to and the modern buyer will proactively avoid sales people.

That requires us not to sell, sell, sell, like we did in the past. But to be trusted and help people. This is a change to the way we sold in the past.

The mistake brands make is that they believe that social selling is there to distrust their content.  It isn’t.  In fact it is often a shock to marketers that in fact nobody cares about your brand or branded content.

No employee left behind! 

No employee left behind!

So how do we get new skills?

Training is always a vital subject, something we take very seriously here at DLA.  If it does not “move the needle” we don’t do it, which is why we don’t do web training.

We have been asked too many times by people to sort out social selling projects that have been delivered over the web.  Fail.  Why? We have found that the web does not get the people and process change you need.

Change requires us to understand why you need to change. This is more about psychology than facts or reason.

In addition, how do you embed the new behaviors so people don’t just go back to doing what they did before?

How will you mentor your team outside of the training program.  Again this is about taking all staff along with the project and not just the “ninjas”.  So often we find that people say they “get social” in training courses, but don’t.

No employee left behind!

Finally, as I’ve mentioned before, LinkedIn training alone is not social selling training. LinkedIn is only 30% of your social graph. By implementing a LinkedIn only social program means you are leaving money on the table and placing your pipeline at risk!

Why you shouldn’t waste your time at another networking event!

I tried to find one that had their heads in the sand, but I kept coming up with southpark.

Ever walked into a room full of salespeople?

Recently while attending a networking event, I had to ask myself, what am I doing here? We’ve all committed to networking – we pay our monthly dues, spend our time meeting and engaging with local sales reps and businesses – all with the purpose of extending our reach and access through the community. After 35 years in sales, these events have not changed. The world has.

It was clear to everyone at the event that while they were looking to develop contacts and new customers, meet new businesses and engage each other, the organizer had different objectives. In fact, the event like all others was an opportunity for a sponsor to pitch to the group, moments before the organizer did likewise.

In a room full of people all there to do one thing, “meet and engage their fellows in business”, why did I pay to hear a pitch? More importantly, is there a better way? The fact is, community and business leaders are clearly asking the same question. Why go to these networking events at all? Attendance to these types of events is markedly down across the board, and the results along with it.

Still a cute picture.

When you, your neighbor, the speaker, the presenter, and the owner of the networking event are all there to sell, who’s buying?

It’s still impressive that people continue to commit to networking events in order to build their business and develop quality relationships. The question isn’t just “are they getting the returns for this commitment”, because we already know the answer here. The question is now “Where can we go to engage our community the way we use to”.

Social sales, through all the various channels now available, provides that answer. It’s not a matter of just being active on social media, curating your content and targeting your articles, but also using the new social tools like Alignable to reach out and meet local leaders.

The world of sales is constantly changing, and it’s the job of the salesperson to identify where it’s going, and get there first. Do you really think doing the same thing everyone else has been doing will get you there?

Written by Thomas Ross  — @TRsocialselling || @ExpoSalesLtd

What Can Social Sales Do For My Organization?

Social sales is the key to ongoing growth in the
modern world – the old tactics of media advertisements, being passive, or cold
contact and direct marketing, are no longer effective. Sales has always been
about engaging your clients. it’s time to go all in, or be left behind.

So, we’ve all heard and read about the importance of social sales and social selling, but what is it really?

Social and social sales is the action of using modern social channels to proactively engage prospects and potential
customers. This can be done using several different strategies within all channels of social media.

As an example, your clients are currently engaged in some way via social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, etc. These social channels are already available and linked on your corporate website. Your sales and active teams can begin directly engaging with those individuals who show interest in the website and its contents, blogs or activities, by simply connecting to them and sharing the content you’re already creating!

Just by leveraging the information available on the company or the individual, and then communicating with them proactively using the same or a different social media channel, you can create the basis of initial engagements. This begins the process of creating a relationship between your sales team or organization and the customer. From there and by continuing to engage we can gain more interest and information on the prospective customer.

Over time, the potential customer becomes interested enough to provide us with information whereby they now become an active qualified lead.

This method is still a more passive method of social sales as we are waiting for people or organizations to show interest in our website, social media channels or content.

While this is a form of social selling there is a much better and more productive method we call Proactive social selling. This process is very similar to sales as we’ve all come to know it. Our first step is to research and develop a list of targeted companies or individuals we would like to develop and engage. From this list and based on our research we can determine which
organizations, which contacts and which sales channels might be the best to leverage in order to begin a potential engagement.

This does not mean we begin sending out unsolicited sales messages through LinkedIn or anywhere else!

This does mean that we begin to reach out by making content and relevant information available through
the most engaged social media channel
to those contacts and companies we are most interested in developing.

We could also include targeted pay per click advertising campaigns into groups rich with our best prospects.

As with initial prospecting of any kind, some individuals and companies will be interested and some will not. However, unlike disruptive sales methods of the past this is much more about providing quality and educational value to potential prospects, and customers will then show interest when they are ready to do so.

This is the turning point, as when prospects become engaged they become qualified leads very quickly, and will move through our sales process more rapidly than we’re used to. This is because they have themselves properly qualified with their interest fully
developed.

So once again there is a non-proactive method around building content and websites while waiting for interest to develop, but this will be no where near as effective as a proactive social sales approach we have described.

It is this proactive methodology that is changing sales today. The importance of this process and the continued development of the skills, systems and processes within your organization, cannot be over emphasized.

While this process does not replace all other sales initiatives, it should in fact be a significant part of any organizations lead development strategy. Simply put, any organization that does not begin to take advantage of Social Selling will not grow and will miss more & more sales targets!

So, in answer to the question “What can social sales do for my organization”, Social selling is simply a new and additional process that does not replace traditional sales. Rather, social sales enhances and allows for a more productive, cost-effective and positive result for your organization.

Think about it, when was the last time you answered a cold call and invited the caller in for a meeting?!!

To begin to add social sales to your organization is like building any other new skill or resource. You need to work with companies that are already providing these kinds of systems and process so that you can build into your company or Outsource your needs, whichever is the most the most productive. Further it is also imperative that your sales team be trained on these new methodologies and that this training be made 100% accountable.

“Social” starts from the top, becoming “Social sales” once the organization fully embraces the value and engage it’s customers
accordingly.

Exponential sales have been working with Digital Leadership Associates through Social-experts.net, providing the most comprehensive Social sales solutions in the industry today.

Exponential sales offers “3” solutions:
1) Social Sales Training
2) Outsourced social selling programs
3) Executive management Social Training

Exponential sales provides comprehensive solutions for social selling for organizations interested in the process of finding and
developing new customers in today’s Social world.

We’re going all-in with social sales!

Lately we here at Expo have been spending a lot of time closely following the development of social media as a sales channel. More and more we've noticed a disconnect between sales and marketing departments, and in many organizations have been seeing a lot of potential leads slipping through the cracks as a result.

The fact of the matter is that times are changing. Cold calling is increasingly less effective, and this is only going to get more grim as younger generations shy away from the phone. Most people spend their morning mass-deleting junk email messages, meaning that email marketing is gradually amounting to throwing a needle into a haystack and hoping for the best. Perhaps most importantly of all, buyers are now approaching the sales process in an entirely different manner, and most are spending time educating themselves about a product before even considering reaching out to initiate a purchase. These days, an overwhelming amount of that research is conducted through social networking.

What this all amounts to is that the sales landscape has forever been changed by the technological developments over the last few decades, and this outright demands a change to how we - as salespeople - approach our craft. This has caused us here at Expo to take a good hard look at how we ourselves have been doing business, and we've seen the writing on the wall. To put it right out there - we're going all-in with social sales.

Introducing a new way of thinking

Digital Leadership Associates
When we say that we're all-in with social sales, we mean three things:

  1. We are hard at work updating our own practices to fully reflect these new business realities
  2. We are expanding our suite of services to include two new social selling offerings - social sales services and social sales training
  3. We have entered into an incredible new working relationship with the premier global practitioners of social selling - Digital Leadership Associates

DLA's co-founders Timothy Hughes, and Adam Gray have made it very clear that their goal is to change the way the world does business, and we're now on-board helping them with this mission. Within this new relationship we'll be delivering DLA's proven sales training IP to North American clients who have seen the world changing around them and are ready to modernize their sales process. If you're willing to shake things up in your organization, Expo & DLA want to help you open the doors to a whole new world of previously-untapped leads.

Still need to wrap your head around the idea of using social media as an actual sales platform? Tim & Adam's books offer a fantastic introduction into the possibilities and offer practical examples. We highly recommend them both!

Social Selling Book

DLA co-founder Tim Hughes has written *the* book on social selling

Brilliant Social Media

DLA co-founder Adam Gray's must-read guide to understanding and building a social media strategy

So what does this mean?

In the long-run the sky is the limit, but for the immediate future this means that Exponential Sales is now the North American distributor for DLA's social sales training program. This program is the perfect fit into our current offering of sales training programs, and we are certain that it is going to deliver exceptional value to our current and future clients.

We Are Teaming Up to Build an Expert Social Sales Platform

We are excited to formally announce that Head Forward Business Solutions will be joining the Exponential Sales family in a long-term partnership. Our two companies have aligned our goals and will begin to offer a suite of much-needed social sales services designed for small and mid-sized businesses. This program is highly customizable and is priced in tiers that offer services to meet the exact needs of your business.

Our social sales services take advantage of numerous optional marketing and advertising channels such as social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) pay-per-click (PPC) advertising such as Google Adwords or Bing Ads, inbound content marketing, and more. However, unlike traditional brand-oriented marketing our approach is 100% oriented toward generating qualified sales leads for your sales team.

This is Not Traditional Marketing – We Want to Help You Generate Sales

This is a results-driven program, and participating clients will be able to see for themselves that it is working. Not only will you have access to quantifiable analytics data and related metrics, but more importantly you will be seeing the resulting increase in sales leads as they roll in through the channels we have carefully selected for your program.

Head Forward are a provider of business-oriented technical and marketing services, particularly in the areas of web design and online advertising. This partnership is all about harnessing the sales knowledge of Exponential Sales with the technical expertise of Head Forward, and using that to power a suite of social sales solutions that will have a direct and positive impact on your bottom line.

Whether you are currently an Exponential Sales client or are simply looking for ways to improve your company’s sales outcomes, we strongly urge you to have a look at the details of our Social Sales Services and to contact us now with your questions.

Thomas Ross: Get To Know Expo

Who is Thomas Ross?

I’m Thomas Ross, and was likely destined to be a salesperson from day One. My favorite activity is and has always been communicating. I wind down by playing sports (soccer & hockey), playing guitar (badly) or exercising. Sometimes a lively political discussion can be fun too.

I have been in sales my entire career and simply can’t imagine not being directly involved in every aspect thereof, whether for our clients or for our organization. Over the years I have also been very involved in Marketing and absolutely love it when we come up with killer value propositions for our clients, along with campaigns that get results. It’s not just about the big sale, it’s about creating the process for many more to come.

A Day in the Life…

My time is divided amongst the needs of our clients, their teams and their customers. At any given moment I may be working with management teams to build out sales-marketing strategies, or working directly in the field with sales teams to develop customers. My personal mantra is: “If you can’t do it – please don’t teach others to!”

As I think about a typical day – there is no typical day! I usually start at 6:45 but if I am traveling it could be much earlier. Working with many different clients in every possible industry means there is never a dull moment and when you add in the direct sales team involvement – well let’s just say we never know what will happen next.

While our team does most of the marketing and operational work, I am mostly out creating opportunities for our clients along with our BDM’s. While I am out, the office is likely calm and organized – but when I get back in, well, not so much. Think the team prefer it when I’m out!

With the many clients and industries we have worked with there are so many great stories and exciting results. But one thing always remains the same. “Sales”, is hard work and it takes a dogged persistence that some people find difficult to understand. In my life as in sales, if I want something, I simply never give up, never.

Lastly we have been able to develop a fantastic team, starting with my partner. Like most salespeople, administration & operations are not my favorite activities and without a partner who keeps it all together we simply could not do the incredible work we do.

My Advice

Don’t ever ask your team to do that which you have not or won’t do yourself. Nobody is that important to do even the most mundane of tasks. In a way this keeps us grounded, modest and real. Remember, nothing is more important than the people in our lives whether in work or personally. Surround yourself with greatness.

Written by Thomas Ross  — @tross999 || @ExpoSalesLtd