Social Selling? Best thing since sliced bread or the best waste of time since the Xbox? According to Forbes, 78.6% of sales people who are using social media out performed those who weren’t. Social selling must therefore be really good? Right? Let’s try and take an uncompromised look at Social Selling and examine the issues before we look at the benefits.
Concerns and Risks
- Non Selling Time: Minimizing non-selling time is a perennial concern that I hear from many clients. What could be worse than the sales teams messing around all day on social media, like looking for jobs on LinkedIn?
- Information leakage: can lead to privacy issues, corporate reputational damage, financial infringements, brand damage and a loss of competitive advantage.
- Solving the big issue: The biggest sales issue at the moment is the relevance of sales people in the sales process. Customers can get a less biased view of our products and services from the internet, without the worry of being sold to. That is why customers are only engaging sales people towards the end of their purchasing process. Listening to customers through social media can alert us to when they may need us, allowing us to enter earlier into the purchasing process.
- Warming up leads: has cold calling may had its time? Let’s rebrand it, ‘Calling Warmed by Social Selling’. Trips off the tongue. According to Heinz Marketing, Social selling generated 40% more qualified leads and opportunities than cold calling. It’s far more effective when you call someone new with context and value. That’s common sense isn’t it? Maybe not common practice!
- Competitor Intelligence: let’s face it, we don’t sell alone. We sell against our competitors. Helping the customer to work their way through the alternative options is a way of influencing and adding value in the sales process. Using social networks is a lot like being able to legally spy on them. So you get great information and get to feel like 007. Here’s an article that builds on this concept from Duct Tape marketing.
Conclusion: the question in my mind is not should we be social selling, but how do we gain the benefits whilst overcoming the risks? This does not seem such an impossible task, but it is back to good old-fashioned processes and management. According to Forbes 93% of all sales people have received no training at all in using social media, and 53% would like help in doing so, so after you’ve set up your social media policies, maybe that could be a good place for us all to start?
Article By Alistair McQuade