3 Questions to Ask Your Sales Team

The social selling backlash has begun. You might sense it or be experiencing it. But you won’t read much about it online. I’m reading a lot of self-appointed experts whining, “You’re doing social selling wrong, dummy!” It’s as if the market is changing. Experiencing. Maturing.

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The social selling backlash has begun. You might sense it or be experiencing it. But you won’t read much about it online. I’m reading a lot of self-appointed experts whining, “You’re doing social selling wrong, dummy!” It’s as if the market is changing. Experiencing. Maturing.

Rest assured: For most sales and marketing leaders the backlash against social selling is becoming tangible. Personal. Reps are pushing back.

This in mind, here are three questions you should be asking sellers in every pipeline meeting.

  1. Why do you invest time on LinkedIn? (at all)
  2. How do you invest that time?
  3. Would you rather reassign that time? Why or why not?

Yes, these are basic questions. But that’s the point: You want raw, un-filtered answers — insights on how your team’s productivity is being hindered or helped by current social selling practices. These questions can be asked on a private basis or in a group. Both strategies can yield productive results.

Is This Your Sales Team?

Social selling has, for many, been a bust. It’s a time-wasting venture in farming (marketing) conducted by those we’ve hired to hunt (sales).

We’ve wisely invested in tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator. However, many organizations are subscribed to a dangerous practice: ordering reps to abandon their hunting instincts — instead, focusing on planting seeds. Marketing.

For example:

  • Sharing valuable content and articles and hoping for engagement
  • Sending self-centered, templated email scripts via LinkedIn InMail
  • Re-posting press releases on LinkedIn blogs and updates

The result:

“Management is forcing me to waste time posting updates on social,” say many sellers. Instead, they want to be on the phone — dismissing social entirely.

This attitude is often based on experience. They tried it; social didn’t move the needle.

But did your reps go to battle with the best weaponry? With an effective, repeatable communications methodology? Or did they just push content out to customers and go back to their day?

1. ‘Why Do You Invest Time on LinkedIn? (Or Not)’

Asking your reps why they do (or do not) invest time on LinkedIn can be a real eye-opener. Especially when your organization mandates participation. If you’re invested in Sales Navigator reps must be using it — frequently and effectively.

You want that ROI. Sales Navigator is expensive.

But getting to effectiveness isn’t easy. I know, because my clients struggle with earning sellers participation in something they often:

  • don’t believe in (the status quo rep)
  • know won’t help them (they’ve tried and failed)
  • are afraid of (they don’t want to be a spammer or loudmouth)

If reps are comfortable with the status quo do they truly need social selling? The answer may surprise you. In some cases buyers are:

  • not active on LinkedIn
  • not contained in the LinkedIn profile database (at all!)
  • disguising their purchase authority (to hide from over-aggressive sellers)

LinkedIn may not be a fit.

Validate Failure and Move On

You cannot argue with experience. Experience drives our behavior. Humans do more of what rewards them, less of what doesn’t. Especially good sales reps!

If your reps have tried and failed with tools like LinkedIn, validate that failure and investigate why they failed. Nine times out of 10 it’s lack of an effective “hunting” communications technique — and over-focusing on “farming” activities.

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

3 thoughts on “3 Questions to Ask Your Sales Team”

  1. Jeff,
    Great post. Finding the correct social media platform can be challenging. There is a lot of trial and error or A/B testing involved. One thing I have found on LinkedIn is the negativity to sales pitches by groups and group owners. I agree and so does LinkedIn that it is generally a “farming” platform. Basically all forms of social will be used for increasing business for the most part. I think with the Microsoft deal it will be more open to general marketing and even sales. One problem I have identified is that finding time allotment to participate even though it may not produce desired results. What do you mean you are not on Facebook? Why aren’t you on LinkedIn? If you are going to participate go all in or just be there based on results.
    Wally Barr

    1. Hi, Wally. Thanks for the thoughts. Yes. However, I understand the negative attitude about sales pitches. They’re offensive. However, what I am disturbed by is Group Owners who stifle any discussion that leads to interest in others talking more with me — or taking a free offer I have for them. When I’m in Groups and doing well with generating problem-solving conversations this attracts curiosity of my target market. It’s precisely this NON-pitchy business development approach that earns a lot of bad rap. For example, many groups prohibit answering questions your potential customers need answered… with your own answer. REALLY!?

      1. yes I know. I get bombed with stuff I neither need or want. I get the typical pitch this is what we do blah blah. However it puzzles me that when you comment you get more negative feedback about the answer and they put in the 2 cents from their point of view. Offering to help means I comment as my best solution. If you want me to expand on it or do it for you it costs money (most times) I think people post or comment with the only reason being to get free and magic bullet solutions.. Yet there are many posts about not giving away your time and work. I am surprised that there is nothing out there that is a basic billboard type wher you can connect with a simple profile page saying Its me this is what I do, I do it for companies like yours, this is what I charge. Contact me if interested. Strait simple sales pitch. I don’t know but sometimes get frustrated with LinkedIn but sometimes it is cool.
        wally

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