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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

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What Did I Learn About Social Selling to Prepare for 2014?


2014 salesSales Prospecting Perspectives is pleased to bring you a guest post from Jamie Shanks, Social Selling Expert at Sales for Life.

We are about to close out an incredible year.  Whether my understanding of Social Selling’s capabilities has hit Dali Lama levels, or the buyer has changed that much… Social is now a force!

As a sales professional, you can’t deny the changes.  Whether or not you’ve embraced Social for sales, the world interacted at a staggering pace online in 2013.  What I want to share with you are tips, tidbits and insights I’ve learned from training thousands of sales reps around the world this year.

Sales reps don’t find Social Selling instinctive

The world is still selling like it’s the 1990’s.  Unless it’s your “New Hire Class,"  sales reps that have been trained and grew up on the cold call and product demo world find Social Selling foreign.  They use Facebook at home, but haven't correlated using LinkedIn as anything more than a resume.  Until 2013, content was only created and distributed by Marketing & industry experts.

I thought Social Selling would be easier for sales reps to adopt without a prescribed training process… but it’s not.  You’re fooling yourself if you think your sales reps will learn Social Selling on their own.

The ROI had become so glaringly obvious that “Why Social Selling?” hasn’t become the objection anymore

When we built our website in early 2013, we were still having the “Why should my sales reps use LinkedIn" conversation ALL THE TIME.  One year later, and it’s been a remarkable transformation.  Just as we teach that content is an amazing nurturing tool for creating demand and inception with a buyer… content has done the same with sales leaders.  Sales leaders at technology companies all around the world are embracing Social Selling so fast that conversations are now about “How do we scale?"  If you’re in a laggard industry like manufacturing, financial services or health care, then get ready, because other industries are already one or two years ahead.

Sales reps will revert to non-Social Selling if you let them

Simple – Pavlov’s Dog.  Learning from past mistakes is not a virtue that sales reps have in spades.  I can’t believe that sales reps will use the same crappy emails or phone messages 1,000 times!  So you can imagine doing workshop on Social Selling, with no adoption follow-up plan.  What do you think the sales rep will be doing one week from now?

You need a roadmap of milestones and assignments.  We build the world’s largest Social Selling training curriculum in an LMS for that reason – ADOPTION.

Social Selling CAN ONLY be digested in bite-sized chunks

Half day training for many sales reps is like going to the dentist.  A sales rep's attention span is one hour MAXIMUM.  And, you need to get to value and “How does this apply to my territory” IMMEDIATELY.  Roll your Social Selling training programs out in one hour learning sessions, and spread them out over time.  Give the team a chance to execute on what they’ve learned. 

Sales Leaders are starting to look at hiring “Digital Natives” and letting go underperforming non-believers

Sales leaders that “get it” have not been taking kindly to sales reps that don’t take Social Selling seriously.  This has been a huge change in 2013.  In 2012, I found sales managers approached Social Selling with a “this is neat” attitude.  One year later, I’ve had many off-the-record conversations with sales leaders that will begin getting new talent on their sales bus based on Social Selling.  They believe that the evidence of success is so overwhelming that they want this type of talent on their team.

The missing ingredient for many companies had been proper KPI measurement

RESULTS, RESULTS, RESULTS – that’s all managers want.  They want to see not only $’s, but the activity it takes to generate the $’s (so they can scale and replicate).  Social Selling workshops haven’t  been able to provide this concrete evidence, even when sales uplift occurred.  Without a system that can measure results, how can a company know which direction to steer the ship?


The Bottom Line:

If you don’t want to be left behind, you need to start to take action.  The following dozen blog posts on utilizing Social Selling strategies for LinkedIn can help you start. If you are really looking for some hidden gems on how you can attract a very specific prospect, I recommend you check out 10 Steps to Building a Social Selling Machine.  Find the topic of Social Selling interesting? Click below to book a time in my calendar to explore further!

So what are you waiting for? Download the above guides.

Jamie Shanks is one of North America’s leading Social Selling experts. He has personally built Social Selling solutions in nearly every industry, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. After proving great success, he decided to help other technology firms build Sales 2.0 models under the brand Shanks Group Inc. In December 2011, Jamie saw the opportunity to merge Shanks Group Inc. with Sales for Life to form a leading Social Selling agency.


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