In the past four years, I’ve noticed an insidious trend in professional sales. It’s a misinterpretation of the term ‘social selling’: Salespeople cruise along doing non-selling tasks, occasionally researching, emailing, and grooming their social network … all while treating the phone like it’s covered with spiders.
The only thing that works in new business development, whether for inside sales or in the field, is the right combinations of effective activity … and lots of it!
Any sales floor that sounds like people are snoozing is in trouble. I was talking with someone last week who told me their company’s salespeople must book booths to make prospecting calls so they do not disturb others on the sales floor.
So many businesses and salespeople have confused ‘social selling’ with ‘social marketing.’ Social platforms certainly play an essential role for researching prospects and creating a strong personal brand that evidences insight and credibility. But selling is all about engaging the buyer in a meaningful two-way conversation, and the human voice is like nothing else for achieving just that.
If ‘outbound’ activities do not culminate in phone calls then the methodology for creating sales pipeline is just a recipe for failure.
Every salesperson must personally ‘own’ and masterfully execute these three things if they are to succeed in high-value, or any form of business-to-business, selling:
- The right narrative
- The right combinations
- The right mindset
Let’s dive into each element individually.
1) A Compelling Value Proposition
The first significant prerequisite for elevating the way we sell is to create the right ‘value narrative.’ Instead of leading with who we are and what we do, we should instead lead with why a conversation should matter to the other person. We need to grab their interest with the worthwhile business or personal outcomes that we can help them achieve.
Precede each call with social marketing activities in the days or weeks prior. This gets you into your prospect’s orbit without any hard-selling.
2) A Successful Outreach Strategy
First thing in the morning, before the others arrive at the office, you’re hammering away with your outreach strategy:
- Call their cell phone
- If you don’t get a live voice on the other end, leave a voicemail. Make your message confident and to-the-point. Focus on the value they’ll derive from a conversation with you, and don’t mention your products or solutions.
- Immediately send a LinkedIn InMail or connection request (with context)
- Send them an email.
Spend two to three minutes per contact on your prepared list. Ideally, you’re working from your CRM or ‘dialing software,’ but a sheet of paper will do the trick. Never blame technology for your failure to drive the necessary level of intelligent activity required to achieve the success you need.
3) A Winning Mindset
You need the right mindset as well. Spend a minimum of two hours every single day prospecting, or setting up conversations and meetings with potential clients. This daily activity is critical, regardless of how revenue you’re currently bringing in and how busy you are with existing clients. Before you go home each day, make sure you have your list of 30-50 calls to make first thing in the morning.
I cannot tell you how many salespeople I meet who just won’t accept responsibility for the creation of their own pipeline. Treat leads from your website, channel, marketing or inside sales team as a bonus. You must own your own success, fight for it, and work for it to be worthy of it.
Be your own SDR, and time-block two hours every day for proactive call prospecting.
The video interview below discusses where ‘social selling’ has gone wrong. Can you believe that one company is cited for removing phones from the sales area altogether? Complete lunacy in my view. On the other hand, no one should be making purely cold calls because ‘warming up a call’ is incredibly easy, thanks to tools such as LinkedIn and your CRM.
Build your personal brand in non-selling time. Use social media and LinkedIn to support your sales strategy, but don’t use it to hide like a coward from the phone.