Why Your Social Selling Index Means Nothing

You and your sales force are selling socially. You’ve got a LinkedIn Sales Navigator seat. Browser is fired up. You’re sharing valuable insights and racking up Social Selling Index points … showing the world you can use LinkedIn. Full stop: Are you helping buyers buy?

LinkedIn Logos Social Selling IndexYou and your sales force are selling socially. You’ve got a LinkedIn Sales Navigator seat. Browser is fired up. You’re sharing valuable insights and racking up Social Selling Index points … showing the world you can use LinkedIn.

Full stop: Are you helping buyers buy? Helping buyers buy is where the action is.

Yet the buying decision process is only partially solution-driven. I learned this from Sharon Drew Morgen, creator of the Buying Facilitation method. I have yet to find a social selling training program teaching us how to deal with these facts.

  • Selling doesn’t cause buying.
  • Buying involves systemic change and (when there’s no other option) solution choice.
  • Using solution data (content, research) as the main skill to make a sale restricts possibility, netting objections from clients who don’t know how to hear the seller’s point.
  • Buyers buy according to their buying patterns, not selling patterns.
  • Pushing solution data too early causes objections, regardless of need.

Morgen teaches us buyers are buyers until they recognize how to solve a problem with maximum buy-in and minimum fallout to the status quo.

Until buyers are certain they can’t solve a problem themselves with their own resources, they can’t recognize what is needed to buy.

“They will resist/object when having seemingly pointless content shoved at them,” says Morgen.

So what’ your role as a seller? To help buyers understand and manage change. Specifically, to know the full extent of internal challenges. Until you help them understand these challenges they remain unable to understand content details effectively.

“They object when pushed,” says Morgen.

Facilitating Decisions Is Not Social Selling

Is your team applying communications techniques to help buyers buy? In other words, are they able to identify and facilitate change for each stage of customers’ buying process that does not include purchase consideration?

Closing more accounts has everything to do with creating interest … nothing to do with creating interaction on LinkedIn.

Creating interest is a communications skill, not a social media or LinkedIn skill.

“There is an entirely different goal, focus, solution, thought process, skill set, necessary,” to facilitate and enable change before any purchase is considered, says Ms. Morgen.

Pushing content to prospects, commenting, updating, sharing wisdom. These tactics work well to generate interaction, not so well to create early-stage client conversations. Interest.

Teach Sellers to Facilitate

Social selling focuses mainly on pushing content and sharing knowledge, mostly out of context to buyers. It rarely works. Because it limits outreach to clients who already recognize a purchase is the only way to resolve a problem.

At best this is 5 percent of the market, which often throw objections at your advance.

However, “You get no resistance when facilitating prospects through their own steps to congruent change,” says Morgen.

“But you’ll need to take a different, additional, path through a different lens. You’ll need to understand the change management issues within your industry. And no, you cannot use your current sales skill to accomplish this,” says Morgan.

Indeed, you can continue pushing content and getting objections, or you can add a new function to your outreach. A part that connects with the right customers sooner. One that allows you to enter their decision path, join them as a trusted advisor and facilitate clients who can buy through to buying.

“Just recognize the sales model doesn’t do the facilitation portion as it’s solution-placement based,” says Morgen.

My bottom line for you: Social selling is, in practice, social marketing. Look around. Witness teams of sellers pushing content onto LinkedIn. All trying to stay in front of potential clients, convince them of sellers’ thought leadership and pushing insights. But in the end social selling proves worthless compared to helping buyers get ready to buy.

Do you agree? What is your experience?

 

Your Social Selling Strategy Is Broken

At the heart of most social selling strategies are poisonous ideas. Concepts that “experts” claim are best practices — that actually decrease chances of earning buyers’ business. Ideas like: Never cold call. Cold calling is interrupting you customer. It’s wrong, you shouldn’t do it.

How to Avoid Broken Links, Broken Layouts, and Unhappy Subscribers (2015 Direct Marketing Day Virtual Conference Session)At the heart of most social selling strategies are poisonous ideas. Concepts that “experts” claim are best practices — that actually decrease chances of earning buyers’ business.

Ideas like: Never cold call. Cold calling is interrupting you customer. It’s wrong, you shouldn’t do it.

“Saying this is wrong and it’s hurting people,” says sales trainer Anthony Innarino.

“More and more self-styled gurus popping up and pontificating to the sales profession that one form or another of prospecting is dead,” says author and sales trainer Jeb Blount.

“They pander to the salespeople who are scared of, uncomfortable with, or simply don’t want to do the hard work of sales.”

When it comes to selling on social media Blount and Innarino have a provocative perspective.

“Selling is about conversations and commitments. But conversations without commitments isn’t selling. It’s just conversations,” says Innarino.

In essence, it’s marketing. Broadcasting.

Marketing is often about soft outcomes. Sales is about hard outcomes: Commitments.

“I defy any quota carrying sales rep and go to their sales manager and say, ‘listen I really want to focus on social selling … so I want to spend most of my day creating content and sharing it.’ You’ll soon find yourself in a new role. Probably not in that company, probably not in sales,” says Innarino.

Is Your Team Hunting or Farming?

The lines between marketing and sales are blurring. This is precisely the problem. Today’s digital sales forces are been reduced to farmers, rather than being armed as better hunters.

It’s becoming more about usage of LinkedIn, less about qualitative outcomes. Sales conversations!

“The big push on ‘social’ selling has turned a lot of SDR teams into ‘send a LinkedIn invite then try to sell them 5 minutes after they accept,” says Mike Andersen, VP of Inside Sales at Mimosa Networks.

Sales people are not, and should not, be marketers (farmers). Yes, they should be listening using social media like LinkedIn and Twitter. But they should be using social to hunt more — farm less.

Are your sellers exploiting LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find potential customers and qualify them as buyers faster? Great. But don’t let them get bogged down with commenting on posts, posting updates, sharing articles and press releases (creating noise).

My research and experience leads me to conclude: There are loose correlations between being visible on social media and closing sales. Farming is important. It’s just less important than prospecting.

Today’s most effective sellers are using LinkedIn to locate, research and provoke problem-solving discussions with potential buyers. Hunt.

Are Your Hunters Being Forced to Farm?

Do your sellers feel they’re being forced to perform pointless activities on social media — that do not help find, nurture or close business faster?

Is there tension between sellers, management and marketing? Disagreement over what direction to take, why and how? You’re not alone. This is the hunter-farmer conflict.