Social Selling Is Not Your Get Rich Quick Scheme
Remember Tommy Vu? If you ever found yourself with a bout of insomnia in the 80’s or early 90’s then you undoubtedly remember him standing in front of yachts and luxury cars with scantily clad women. You’ll also remember his promises of easy riches by just following his “proven investment system” to get rich. What ended up happening to those desperate and sleepy people once they followed him was a loss of valuable time and money. Tommy’s Vu’s time on the airwaves have come and gone, but in the world of sales his influence has been replaced by sales gurus pushing the idea of social selling as a simple and increasingly effective replacement to picking up the phone and knocking on doors.
Unfortunately for some of you reading this, social selling is not the “get rich quick” scheme it’s been touted to be. Before you ditch the telephone and other traditional forms of prospecting make sure you understand the truth behind some of the most common arguments for a complete transition to social selling.
1. Social Selling Builds Relationships – While it may be true that your sales team can cultivate relationships with buyers you need to ask yourself, “Were relationships not being cultivated before 2005?”. Yes, the way we as a society communicate has evolved, but it has not transformed entirely. Our social media profiles are an extension of our communication arsenal – not a replacement. In actuality …
2. Nobody Answers The Phone or Opens Their Mail – If you listen to consultants and other experts talk long enough you’ll hear them quote familiar stats about how much harder it has become to contact decision makers through traditional channels. Now, before I rebut this fact I’d like you to do me a favor. Are you ready? Open both your work and personal email and count how many unread emails you have. Now count what’s in your junk inbox. Now, if you haven’t exhausted yourself, go to your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter inboxes and count how many emails you’ve outright avoided. Are you still with me? Now walk outside to your mailbox and count how much mail is in there? Now your voicemail on your phone. I’m guessing your social media and email inboxes were quite full of things you haven’t read. I’m also willing to bet that your physical mailbox and your voicemail were pretty empty. As a decision maker myself I can tell you that I am much harder to reach via digital means. Quite frankly, with all the clutter in my inbox its easy for me to tune you out digitally. However, I check every piece of mail sent to both my home and office. I listen to every voicemail on my cell and at my desk. It’s true I may choose not to engage with you, but those who contact me through traditional means force me to at least take mental note of their presence. Those who are persistent enough or providing a service I need immediately will definitely get a response. In truth, as more of us resort to communicating digitally it has become the traditional . Because of the conflict aversion of the new era of sales people I receive far less phone solicitations than ever before. Those brave enough to call me – and other decision makers – usually get us on the phone.
3. Social Selling Makes You More Efficient – Read above. I once had a sales rep tell me that they were working “smarter” by doing most of their prospecting from their computer. I no longer have this sales rep. By the end of the month that rep had set fewer appointments, made fewer presentations, sent fewer proposals, and closed fewer sales than anyone else on the team. On the other hand, my “old timer” reps had banner months. Why the difference? While my younger rep spent day in and day out over-researching and emailing contacts who may not have even noticed he’d reached out to them my traditional reps simply picked up the phone and started a conversation. Sure they heard no more than my young rep, but they also heard yes more as well. Sales are about moving prospects through the sales process. Unread correspondences in a prospect’s inbox do nothing to help you achieve your goals.
Even with these myths dispelled, social selling is an important tool in any sales person’s arsenal but should not be the only tool. Traditional methods are vital to the sales process – as communication at the traditional level has not devolved. There are countless gurus who will try to sell the idea that social selling is the answer to all your cold calling troubles, but don’t be fooled. Selling is a process that has to happen on multiple levels – phone, in person, and online. You must master all of these arts if you want to travel down a path of sales success.