Social sales professionals sell in the both halves of the game

Hands connecting two jigsaw puzzle pieces

© Tweeter Linder 2017 – All rights reserved. Photo by iStock.

The sales and marketing professions change as part of digital transformation. A shift changing both roles, and bringing them closer together. From a sales perspective the shift to recognize is a shift in how customers buy. starting with a job to be done in digital channels before our first contact. And a scenario where our job is shifting from selling to a combination of helping and selling.

The classic sales & marketing model does not get the job done any longer

The classic model can often have:

  1. A loose coupling between the sales and marketing functions.
  2. A marketing job focused on putting our messages into customers’ minds, with an inside-out flow.
  3. A sales job focused on selling our products, services and solutions.
  4. Few decision makers in customer’s organizations.
  5. Customers understanding the opportunity at hand well. All these 5 elements are different in a digital centric world. Marketing and sales need to be close.

Marketing is an outside-in driven engagement journey. We are selling outcomes, to a diverse set of decision makers. An never have we seen so much learning in play on both the buyer and seller side.

The first 50% of the sales job is already digital

Today we can expect more than 50% of the buying journey to take place before a customer contacts us. A journey taking place along digital discovery journeys. If we are not active and winning on the digital arena we will play catch-up the rest of the game. Football teams starting the third quarter with 0-28 in every game will not be get to SuperBowl.

This part of the marketing and sales job fall under digital marketing teams. And never have sales professionals been so dependent on a great marketing job to win a sale. A job relying on a solid foundation of customer buying journeys. Where everything we know about how our customers buy is integrated in our tailored journeys.

Journeys where the job of training our sales teams and educating customers are coupled.

75% of B2B professionals lack social sales skills

Sales professionals are often the last ones to embrace digital and social skills. Coming from a heritage where we guarded insights about customers and used them to advance deals. And face to face communication with customers dominated B2B sales pursuits.

But LinkedIn and social tools have changed the landscape. Our valuable customer contacts now follow us on LinkedIn. The value of our personal contact networks is a great asset for our company to leverage. We cannot design the digital discovery journeys individual for each customer and each opportunity. We need to leverage pre-defined routes and triggering interest before customers reach out to us.

Social selling skills is not an option. It is the center of gravity for how we develop our role. And there is still room to become a star is this novel field.

Sales and marketing integration

Tear down the silos between marketing and sales. The collaboration between these two teams spans across many new and vital areas. Digital discovery journeys, designed for customers as well as internal sales training.   Daily build of customer insights. Gained by sales professionals and foundation for market material creation. Daily build of customer engagement material. Where insights in the morning can be marketing material in the afternoon. An environment where close collaboration and sharing is king.  And where guarded information represent lost competitiveness.

Expect a large job in rebuilding your new vital flows. Flows where lean and learning are the two main attributes. Flows and structures representing your internal digitalization potential.

Developing social sales skills

The largest personal undertaking is to develop our social sales skills. A job starting with addressing our digital literacy and our digital courage. We need to take on the challenge to understand and exploit how digital tools and platforms can work to our advantage. And we need to be ready to experiment to be successful. The new reality we face will be to act sooner on looser grounds and where perfection is a rare ingredient.

As sales professionals seldom are first movers we can leverage experiences gained by others. Our marketing and recruitment peers are ahead of us in digital social skills.  We also have the potential to leverage our younger team members’ experience. Digital natives have an easier route in developing social selling skills.

Social sales skills will be the key to start all opportunities with 0-0 from the first second in the first quarter.

Questions for you and your team

  1. Where do we start from – with regards to our existing social selling capabilities.
  2. What level of resistance towards social selling do we have in our sales force – don’t expect all to be motivated.
  3. How decoupled are our sales and marketing operations – an area where tight integration is key.
  4. Who can take the role as “social sales captain” – a role model inspiring the whole team to move forward.
  5. Which metrics can we use to demonstrate quick wins – critical to secure the initiative gain momentum.
  6. How do we overcome the classic sales barriers – expect sales professionals to have a strong interest in communicating success.

Additional reading suggestions

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