Had an interesting discussion this week with a sales leader.
Let me give you some background about the company.
The company is high-tech, they recently IPOed and therefore have cash. But as all of us know, an IPO means you have borrowed money, and if you borrow money, people want to see a return. The company needs to see 60% growth this year!
The success to date for that software business has been through selling to departments. The deal size have been good, they have made a good living, but 60% growth is about capitalising on those existing deals and selling net new deals across the enterprise. Or put it another way, they need more and bigger deals. Which is about building trust and relationships fast in and organisation.
One way to approach this, of course is to, “get on the phone”. There are at least ten problems with cold calling:-
- It does not scale.
- It’s inefficient.
- It’s not exactly “leadership” and “high-tech”
- It series and not parallel.
- It has “friction” associated with it.
- It pisses people off.
- It does not build long term relationships.
- Makes you the same as the competition.
- You are “just another salesperson”.
- There is common technology now to block you
I will come back to that in a moment.
If you worked for this company how would you approach each of your accounts? Well if you were lucky and had an existing customer you could get an internal referral, but that probably isn’t fast enough. In terms of meetings needed to make your number. Let’s not forget that clients move at their speed and not yours.
To make your number you need to have as many conversations across your accounts as you can.
Gartner say that for most, if not all Enterprise deals there will be ten people that will make a decision. But you don’t know who those ten people are. So how many people are you going to contact with? Ten? Twenty? Fifty? Hundred?
In my last company we did research on the top performers and they admitted to having at least 200 contacts per account.
Now one of the major flaws of “our good old friend the phone” is the people at the other end of the phone, the customer, does not know how brilliant you are and how you can help them until you have phoned them and they have met you.
What if you could should how you could help them, show them you are an expert, evidence the “value” you could create without even calling somebody up? Just like you would do in a first meeting, but without meeting them?
Well you can by having a personal brand.
See how they stand out? See how different they are? See how they show you what we stand for? Without being boastful or salesy.
By the way, if you don’t like our profiles then you won’t like us and it qualifies you out. Think of the time and efficiency savings from not talking to people who won’t buy?
As well as having a great profile, you need a strong network. Not contacts, but what would happen if you are connected to say two hundred people in an organisation and you connect with the CEO? He or she are pretty much likely to connect. They will see 200 contacts in his organisation, so will assume you are a great person.
Finally, there is content. People think of content as a top-of-funnel piece of work. Traditionally marketing create content to create awareness, it’s about throwing mud at the wall and hoping it will stick.
Content is actually a strategic tool not only as part of the desire building process but to move deals along the pipe. Content can be written one to many, like traditional awareness content, one to few, you might want to influence an industry or people in an account. Or, like this piece of content, I’ve actually written it for an individual, in an account.
This “social selling” approach, provides you with speed and scale and enables you to work in parallel. It will enable you to make your number quicker and would enable this company to make the 60% growth target this year.
Let’s go back to those points above.
- It does not scale – As long as you have a great profile, you can contact 200 people per account, well I can do it in an hour.
- It’s inefficient – Cold calling requires you to deal with gate keepers, there are no gate keepers on social. If you think about a cold call being your chance to pitch your products, if you have a great profile then somebody looking at your profile is equivalent to a cold call. I can make 200 “cold calls” an hour using social.
- It’s not exactly “leadership” and “high-tech”. The problem with using “the good old phone” is it isn’t high-tech. Surely as a leader you need to be showing …. leadership? Cold calling is not leadership.
- It series and not parallel. At my last company we had a cold calling day, people would sit and ring people and get voice mail, that nobody listened to. When you send somebody a message, on social they can answer it in there own time.
- It has “friction” associated with it. – The problem with the phone is you have to know the person’s number and hope they are in when you call. There are also gatekeepers, this all adds to the friction. With social people can answer your message, when they want.
- It pisses people off – We have to admit that cold calling pisses people off. Not a great way to start a relationship.
- It does not build long term relationships. The world today is built on trust and if we are to sell department or enterprise wide deals, then we need to be building not destroying trust.
- Makes you the same as the competition. Every since I was a rookie salesperson I wanted to differentiate myself. There is this fashion at the moment to race to the bottom using templates.
- You are “just another salesperson – A CIO told me a story recently about how to arch rival software companies where trying to pitch to him using the same template. The average person is bombarded by thousand messages a day. All saying “buy my stuff” how are you going to stand out? Not by being yet another salesperson.
- There is common technology now to block you – Apple iOS 13 and I’m told Android has standard functionality to send all cold calls to voice mail. Plus you can block numbers. Techology is working to free us all from interruptions, cold calling, advertising and unsolicited emails are all examples.
I know this is a long blog and if you have got this far, I thank you.
Switching to social selling requires change, we have built a program to support that change. The mindset and habit change. If you are a change maker or change agent, why not run a pilot (with our help of course) to implement a social selling methodology in your business?
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