My hero is Jon Bishop and he has been my hero since we became friends in 1st grade. We both idolized Indiana Jones, and celebrated his adventures throughout our lives. 32 years later, while I am glued to my desk, pounding away on the phones and sending never-to-be read correspondences, Jon is off saving lives at Jackson Hole Resort. When he’s not doing that, he is leading his team of firemen through the Teton Mountain Range. The last time I saw Jon, I was at the altar of my wedding in 2009 and he was standing next to me as one of my groomsmen. You would think with the five devices I have around me at all times that I could easily connect with him, but life has its priorities and complications. Last December, I lived vicariously through him as he lowered people down to the ground from a broken lift at the resort. I was able to do so because I follow Jon on Facebook. While I do not see him as much as best friends should see each other in person, Facebook has provided a means by which we can stay connected and our relationship remains solidified.
I am challenged everyday by VPs of Sales and Marketing on the capability of social sites to adequately serve as a means of staying connected with their future customers. I sit at my desk and scratch my head, asking myself how this is not abundantly clear to everyone using social in any capacity. Why does this hurdle exist? Do these people not have a hero, a best friend, or any person that they stay in touch with through social media? If they do, why is it so hard for them to see a social site like LinkedIn for its potential to help their sales people cultivate stronger relationships with their buyers and refine existing sales tactics? Ironically, it is my clients’ objections to the very concept that have helped me develop a better case for social sales. Here are a couple recent ones that I thought I would share with you:
OBJECTION #1: Yesterday, I was asked about using social sites for sales globally. “When will the rest of the world start using social?” The company had reps in several different locations and was considering social sales enablement training. They wanted to make sure that the sales organization would have a consistent voice when it comes to social sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc. etc.
ANSWER: Brian Featherstone, CEO and Chairmen of OgilvyOne published a study on “The Future of Sales” in 2010, which touched on social for selling. The United States is actually the last one to adopt social selling, while emerging markets like China are already using social 73% of the time for sales. My response was a logical one: “Essentially, we have some catching up to do.”
OBJECTION #2:“The use of social will not work for our sales people because they sell top-down, and members of the C-suite are not on social right now.” I see this one a lot, and it really comes more from management then the seller. In most cases, if you approach your own sales team and ask them if they are connecting with their prospects on social sites, they are going to say yes.
ANSWER: Paul Dunay, Global Vice President of Marketing at Maxymiser, posted a list of over 100 C-Level executives your company could have been talking to in December of 2008, proving this objection to be one without substance.
Norbert Kriebal, Principal Analyst serving Sales Enablement Professionals at Forrester, published “Executive Buyers Prefer Email And Phone” on July 26th, 2013. In his research, he surveyed C-level executives regarding their buying preferences. His findings showed LinkedIn to be in the top five most-preferred methods of interaction between the sales professional and the executive buyer.
You can argue that a relationship with a lifelong friend and that of one with a business prospect are far different, and I completely agree. My point here is that social possesses the versatility to assist not only in keeping us in touch with close friends who we haven’t seen in a while, but also in keeping us in front of and in tune to what is going on with our prospective buyers. As sellers, we know that there is a large part of our contact database that may not be buying today. We also know that they will evaluate in the near future and with this knowledge, why would you not want to stay connected to the prospect in the lead nurture phase on social sites?