Jonathan Farrington interviews Barbara Giamanco, pioneer and evangelist of Social Selling and President of Social Centered Selling.
“72.6% of salespeople using social selling strategies outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often. Top social sellers also tracked back their activities to closed deals – 5 or more! But there is more to being a successful seller in today’s digitally wired, 24/7 connected world than clicking on a few buttons in LinkedIn or Twitter. Using social for brand building, networking, prospecting, sales call research and establishing influence and capability is only part of the equation. If you can’t sell, you can’t close deals.”
This week, Jonathan Farrington interviews Barb Giamanco, one of the earliest pioneers and evangelists of Social Selling
When did you know that salespeople would be impacted by social media?
In July 2004, when I signed up for my LinkedIn account. I am member 874,098. At the time, I remember thinking, “Hey, if this can work for people networking for jobs, it can work for salespeople networking for new sales opportunities.” Along with LinkedIn, I became an early adopter of subsequent platforms like Twitter, Facebook and blogging, because I realized the potential of engaging with prospects, customers and partners in multiple ways.
What has changed in the 4 years since your book: The New Handshake – Sales Meets Social Media was published?
Explosive growth of social networks is one change. The biggest change however, is that the buyer’s decision making process looks much different today. We were seeing evidence of that when the book was published. Now, some 70%-80% of the time say Sirius Decisions and Gartner, buyers go online to do their initial data gathering. Feature dumps fall on deaf ears. Sellers need business acumen and the ability to bring fresh insights to the discussion; otherwise, decision makers don’t need them.
You talk about the 3 keys to successfully using social to sell, what are they?
Strategy, Skills and Execution. It all starts with a plan at the individual and corporate salesforce levels. Without a roadmap that includes what you’ll measure and track, how can sellers expect to be successful?
Next are skills. Embedding social strategies into the sales process requires training. Expecting salespeople to learn on the fly won’t lead to measurable outcomes. There is an art to engaging through social media channels. Invest in giving sellers the training they need.
Finally, consistent execution. If sellers aren’t regularly (as in daily) sharing content, engaging in conversations and strategically using social to source sales opportunities, they are missing out. Inconsistent activity will not generate results.
What are the top mistakes that salespeople make when selling today?
Using social channels to broadcast sales pitches. Sellers now send their spam through LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. The practice of spray and pray, however, not only does not generate positive results, it can and does create a negative perception about the salesperson and their company.
The second mistake is boiler plate messaging. Salespeople crank out messages that lack relevance for the vast majority of people who receive them. Corporate Executive Board surveyed 5,000 executives and decision makers that interact with salespeople and discovered that 86% of these executives said that the salesperson’s message had NO commercial impact on them whatsoever.
Do you believe that the basics of great selling is on the decline? If so, why?
Yes, I do. I have long said that using social selling tactics to get the meeting is a fraction of today’s sales equation. If you cannot hold an articulate and consultative conversation with the decision maker(s), what good did any of those social selling tactics do for you?
Poor sales skills really falls on management’s shoulders. The younger salespeople, in particular, join companies who give them no sales skills training at all. They learn system, process and the products, but they aren’t actually taught the process of selling. I’m talking the basics of good communication, listening, presentation and follow up.
As an example, Joe called me three times in the past two weeks and said, “He really hoped to talk to me”. Joe who? What company does he work for? What’s the purpose of the call? Why would I stop everything to call him back? Is this how you’d want your business represented? Sales leaders need to insist on ongoing investments in skills development programs.
As an early evangelist, you now believe that salespeople (and marketing and service) need to be mindful of “experience”. Why is that?
As companies look for unique ways to stand out, delivering stellar experience – in every interaction – is the way to do it. What I mean by “experience” is the positive or negative reaction at every touch point in the process of first connecting with a prospect, moving them through the sales funnel, closing the business and retaining them as a happy customer for life.
Experience drives revenue and profitability. According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. In Oracle’s report: Why Customer Satisfaction is No Longer Good Enough, they report that one of the key drivers for a customer to spend more with a company is the overall improvement of the customer experience.
Bottom line, regardless of the touch point – marketing, sales, service – you usually get one chance to make a great first impression. Sales opportunities are lost daily because the overall experience isn’t being considered. This is something I think companies need to address.
You can also listen to the audio version of this interview here:
Barbara Giamanco heads up Social Centered Selling, and she is the co-author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media. Find out more by visiting here.