It’s an old saying, but a very true one.
As you are probably aware, we (Digital Leadership Associates) are in the social space and one of our most successful offerings is our 12 week social selling programme. It is based on CEO & Co-Founder Tim Hughes’s social selling methodology. Despite this amazing success and the simplicity of the premise on which this methodology is founded, Tim & Digital Leadership Associates seem to be pushing against the trend.
Today I downloaded a LinkedIn/Miller Heiman eBook titled “The Way to Sell” and to be frank it made my blood boil. The idea that two companies that are supposed to be market leaders have simply ported all the selling techniques which are out-of-date and ineffective in to a digital domain and called it “social selling” and served it up as new thinking and cutting edge is an insult to social sellers and indeed an insult most people that might read it.
Whilst the ebook does make a distinction between talking about yourself (feature/function/benefit) and talking about the customer needs it absolutely gives no acknowledgement to the fact that “We’ve had a lot of success in helping businesses like yours improve revenue (by up to 20% in some cases) by giving salespeople more time to sell. I’d love to meet you next week to see if we can do the same for you.” is more likely to result in the phone being put down than a meeting being scheduled.
As Gary Vee said “content is king, but context is god”…you must first, before cold-calling/inmailing/emailing/being referred to ANYONE make sure that YOU look like you’re worth me spending my time talking to. You only get one chance to make a first impression…a cliche, but nonetheless a truism, this explains absolutely why you must have a profile on LinkedIn that explains why a busy buyer would want to spend their valuable time talking to you – Top 10 salesperson, hard closer, tenacious…are all terms (or feelings) which will make it difficult for you to get someone’s ear. Yes, this, personal brand, the most fundamental cornerstone of social selling and indeed one’s social presence is not even mentioned let alone held up as being the most important part of any social selling strategy.
The fact of the matter is;
- according to CEB (now Gartner), that buyer behaviour has changed. Buyers are typically 57% of the way through the buying journey before they reach-out to the seller. Often by the time you identify a buyer they have already decided that they DON’T want to deal with you if their internet/social research show them that there are, what appear to be, better options.
- you know from your own behaviour online that when you research similar options they all say the same things; they all claim to be customer focused, cost effective, reliable etc etc etc so everything that they write about themselves is simply ‘noise.’
Failure to have a profile that makes you look like you’re worth talking to means that you will use all of the great profile filters and inmail templates to appear as a spammer.
The eBook makes Sales Navigator look like an address book and little more, and it makes Miller Heiman look like an old fashioned sales training company that has simply changed the words ‘rolodex’ to ‘SalesNav’ and ‘press cutting service’ to ‘LinkedIn’ – I’m sure they can do better than this.
Social selling is a different way of selling. It requires YOU the seller to develop a personal brand which makes you look helpful, approachable and knowledgable so that buyers are not intimidated by you and avoid your approaches but are positively pleased when you reach out to them (by LinkedIn, email, even by telephone) and this provides the context for you to be able to suggest solutions to their problems. But social selling is much more than simply having a strong and credible personal brand it requires you to have an active social behaviour, regularly publishing, sharing and commenting on things in the social space.
If you think that this isn’t true, you are wrong. Social selling is just like old-school business networking, meet people, get them to like you, trust you, listen to you and let them know that you are one of the “good guys”. This is how you become a trusted advisor and get the ear of your prospect and this is how you tun that in to value and ultimately business.
And if you’re wondering why you should care about Tim hughes’s methodology I should point out that it’s a methodology, that has made Tim the undisputed #1 social selling influencer (based on Onalytica’s influencer analysis amongst others), a methodology that has got him over 200,000 twitter followers and made his video channel “TimTalks” one of the top 10 business vlogs to follow. A methodology that made him one of Oracle’s best performing sales people and makes him an internationally in-demand keynote speaker.
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