In the first sentence of his LinkedIn bio, David Meerman Scott boasts of being sacked in 2002 in one of the worse job markets in history. The same radical thinking that got him fired has made him one of today’s most respected sales and marketing strategists and thought leaders.
Drawing from his experience as a bond trader, marketing executive, model, and rocker, David has authored ten best selling books including The New Rules of Marketing and PR and Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead and his latest book The New Rules of Sales and Service. He’s dazzled and educated global audiences at corporate events, conferences, and seminars. For salespeople who have not yet leveraged mobile technology and social networking, he sounds a loud wake up call.
David dismisses expensive advertising and traditional, costly PR as old world. To him, content is the best form of marketing on-line for getting in front of buyers at exactly the right time. While marketing is a company’s reach to many buyers at once, and sales is an individual salesperson’s reach to one buyer at a time, he explains that his concept of Real-Time Sales and Marketing applies to both marketing and sales. Real-Time Sales and Marketing happens when an organization operates on the buyers’ timetable – not their own. With it “speed and agility win”.
In our conversation we focused on how individual salespeople can use Real-Time Sales and Marketing to succeed in a digital world. Clearly, the way clients buy has changed. Clients go to search engines and social networks to do research and learn about what they are interested in buying. As a result, the balance of power has shifted from the salesperson to the buyer. And the salesperson’s job has changed to educate and inform instead of interrupt and sell and to usher the buyer through the process, adding value along the way. This change, David emphasizes, is not a matter of dabbling. He says it demands “a complete and utter shift in mind-set of how salespeople think about selling.”
David feels there are three integrated levers available to every salesperson to help them make the shift needed to be a salesperson buyers seek out and buy from:
- Curate Content—The job of the salesperson is to curate content. Content generation starts with building expertise. Salespeople must be very quick to curate content for their buyers.
- Respond in Real Time—Speed of response is critically important. The environment is such that salespeople are no longer in charge. They no longer choose when and where to reach buyers. When buyers have a request, salespeople must get back at the speed of technology.
- Be Visibly Active in Social Networks—Buyers who are going through the sales process not only want to know about the company, they want to know about the individual salesperson. David hammered away that salespeople must be active on various social networks. It is important that when a buyer goes to Google and enters the name of a company or a topic, the name of the salesperson should also come up. To David “If nothing comes up about the salesperson, that salesperson does not exist.” For him, it seems to be post or perish. But if Google returns information about the salesperson such as an article the salesperson has written, a great LinkedIn bio, and activity on Twitter, that helps the buyer see the salesperson in the light of trusted advisor. Social tools become another way to build trust.
- Start Newsjacking—Newsjacking is the process of injecting oneself into a breaking news story, for example when Oakley provided its sunglasses to the 32 trapped and rescued Chilean miners to wear as they emerged into the sunlight. An individual salesperson can newsjack too by doing many of the kinds of things companies do. For example, they can share content relevant to their buyers. This takes being very observant, actively watching the news, and acting quickly.
David recommends Google News at News.Google.com as a source for newsjacking. He uses it three or four times a day and sometimes more. For example, the day before this interview, Time magazine announced its person of the year. Ten minutes after the announcement David, who had checked Google News, Tweeted this to his network. He knew it would be interesting and that he would likely be the first to inform his followers. Similarly, salespeople can Tweet industry related news, such as an acquisition, a new government regulation, or a new product a company in their industry has released, or any relevant information to their prospects and clients. David sees bringing relevant content to buyers as a way to move salespeople from product pushers to trusted advisors.
Buyers want expertise, value add – not product pitches. David emphasizes that salespeople who are up on industry news, active on social networks, leveraging sales tools, and who are adept at content creation will be more successful than those who aren’t. The tools salespeople choose depend on their type of sale and their preferences – for example a content platform if they are text based, or a video platform such as YouTube, Slide Share, and Instagram if image based. For example, David’s SlideShare The New Rules of Selling has been viewed over 150,000 times.
His bottom line is that salespeople “must be as expert in the web as they were in cold calling and selling products and services.”
David recognizes that salespeople must understand that we are going through the biggest, most powerful communication revolution in human history. The magnitude surpasses the change in communication brought about by the invention of the printing press 560 years ago. With the printing press books could be created more