TALKING SALES 31: "The Social Selling Evolution"

John Smibert

Sales revolution2

John Dougan cartoonIn this interview John Dougan does a good job of positioning our use of social media in the selling process.

John Smibert asked him what 'social selling' means to him and how social can be utilised by salespeople selling B2B,

John D emphasised that social's key application is to help salespeople engage earlier in the buying process with prospective clients. It enable salespeople to build a brand portraying value and to deploy tactics to engage effectively.

John was also asked if social changes the way we sell. He emphasised that social is driving an evolution in the way we sell - like email did in the 90's. He also talks about the way it is blurring the lines between marking and sales.  He suggests that it is vital for salespeople to learn how to use it effectively as a sales tool.

John Dougan is the Intrepid Sales Detective, a noted writer and blogger on sales effectiveness. Watch his interview here:

See more of the 'TALKING SALES' series here

Interview

John S: Welcome back! I'm here again with John Dougan - Intrepid Sales Detective, writer and blogger on sales effectiveness. Welcome back, John!

John D: Thank you, John!

John S: John, in our last discussion you talked about methodology and process, and particularly process associated with the buying journey or the buyer process, and how we need to engage right through that process both from a marketing and a sales point of view. That really touches on this modern-day subject of social selling. What do you think about social selling? What does it mean to you? I hate the term, I've got to tell you, because I don't think we sell via social media, but I'm sure we engage by it. Tell me a little bit about your thoughts on that?

John D: John, you're spot on. Firstly, social has a role simply because sellers and marketers need to engage the buyer earlier on. We know that they're a significant way through their process, as we discussed, so social is  one component that allows us to engage them earlier. I also agree with your point that social selling is a near defunct title that we give it. I certainly don't sell socially, but I am capable of engaging my customer network or prospect network because I build brand, I have some level of tactics and I execute on that.

John S: I remember the first time I ever met you, and we sat down and talked, and I raised the subject of social. You made a statement which nearly floored me: you do 100% of your business on LinkedIn.

John D: I certainly do a lot of it, it may well be 100% from the prospecting point of view, certainly in terms of engagement. As you know, I write a lot of blogs, I write a few articles for LinkedIn and Thomson Reuters - those articles certainly position my brand as a thought leader. And as a direct result I have customers coming to me reactively, actually asking me for advice on certain sales dilemmas and sales challenges.

John S: How important is social to all of us in the sales world? Is it changing the way we sell, or is it more of a minor change to what we're doing?

John D: John, you raise a great point. Social selling, and I will call it that for this, is an evolution and not a revolution. It is very simply a new way of communicating with our prospects and with our customers.

John S: Like email was back in the 90s maybe.

John D: And you raise email, email's the one thing that we should raise because-I liken it to the Fibonacci sequence. We used to walk the pavements, knock on doors, intruding on buyer's time. Then all of a sudden we had the telephone, we rang our customers; we still intruded on their time. Then email came along, we send an email and do you know what? It's the first time that a buyer actually reads it and processes that information - if they do - on their own time.

Now, what social is is the fantastic component of all of that. It's an opportunity for us not only to operate on a buyer's time but also to interact with them. We can see when they've read something, viewed our profile, we can see the level of engagement that they have. Then, of course, we can reach out with a compelling prospecting message based on what they've seen.

John S: So, is it something we should all embrace? Or is it something that a lot of us-you know, it's happening in the background where it's really not that important to us?

John D: Well, John, the scary thing is that the blurred lines are appearing between sales and marketing as a profession. You know, there are some research companies out there who say that great salespeople, even at enterprise level, do 30% of marketing as part of their role. Therefore, if you do want to engage customers when they're in relative status quo or when they're not actually buying then they will be susceptible, in which case you can use social as a component to engage them.

John S: So the bottom line message I'm getting is: social is evolutionary and not revolutionary, but it's an absolutely vital part, a tool within your toolbox as a salesperson, and you should be using it; if you're not, you're going to be left behind.

John D: Yeah, a hundred percent - it is a tool within your toolbox. [04:00] Please do not negate what's gone before: the telephone, email - still incredibly effective ways to communicate. But if you don't use social now then you will get left behind.

John S: Great advice, John - thank you very much! Look forward to the next time we talk.

John D: Thank you, John!

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See more of the 'TALKING SALES' series here

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