A Lie That Keeps You From Success (Part 1 of 3)

“It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.” The words of 19th centrury historian, Alexis de Tocqueville are even truer today. But not only in the realm of politics. What’s keeping you or your sales team from generating appointments and leads with social selling? Bold, eye-grabbing fibs told by technology vendors and sales trainers whose livelihood depend on adoption of their false inventions. All based on a social media revolution that does not exist.

“It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.” The words of 19th centrury historian, Alexis de Tocqueville are even truer today. But not only in the realm of politics.

What’s keeping you or your sales team from generating appointments and leads with social selling? Bold, eye-grabbing fibs told by technology vendors and sales trainers whose livelihood depend on adoption of their false inventions. All based on a social media revolution that does not exist.

Get on board, the train is leaving without you! We’ve reinvented sales prospecting and you’re missing out!

But here’s what the gurus (cleverly) don’t tell you: Prospecting best practices remain the same. What works rarely changes. With social selling:

  • your cold calling tactics should evolve a bit—not reinvent themselves
  • LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube don’t replace cold calling—they advance it

Cold calling is alive and thriving. In fact, effective cold call tactics can feed your social selling strategy. Sellers have the chance to improve cold calling and social selling thanks to new tools.

“I often wonder … if the advocates to the ‘death of cold calling’ movement have mixed us a martini using battery acid instead of vermouth and somehow managed to make it pleasing to the palate,” says Kraig Kleeman in a lucid stream of thought on the Association for Talent Development’s LinkedIn group.

5 Signs Your Social Selling Strategy Is a Ticking Bomb
“The (cold calling is dead) argument appears delicious and intoxicating, but somehow its outcome creates a harmfully poisonous effect,” says Kleeman.

He is right. The tsunami of false claims about cold calling being dead can cause you to believe it is a factual reality—and act accordingly. Therein lies the danger.

Believing cold calling is less effective might cause you to rush into social selling and:

  1. Use LinkedIn as a replacement to cold calling—and be banned for using connection requests
  2. Fail to spark conversations with buyers via LinkedIn updates due to misguided tips
  3. Ask for appointments in “first touch” InMail/emails to prospects (big mistake!)
  4. Waste time trying to spark conversations in LinkedIn Groups because of ineffective scripts
  5. Teach ineffective methods to your entire team by hiring a misguided social selling trainer!

Let Social Filter: Trust Your Instincts
What works in cold calling works in social selling. Period. Don’t let any guru tell you otherwise.

An effective cold call produces raw insight on where the buyer is in the decision-making process. If they’re in it at all! It doesn’t set an appointment. It doesn’t ask for a meeting. It is discovery-focused. You’re filtering prospects and placing them in “buckets.”

An effective cold call is brief, blunt and basic. It facilitates to both sides: “Might there be a larger conversation to be had here? Why, when and how?” Done!

The buyer is in control and sets the meeting, demo or call date. Your job is to find the pain—uncover (or confirm) the reason why this prospect might want to talk to you.

Next, your job is to start a journey toward the buyer discovering (for themselves) why they want to talk more. It’s a process, a discipline. That’s why cold calling works so well!

This is the most effective way to approach social selling. First, have a system. Second, focus on the buyer so much they ask you for the next contact—or ask you to stop.

Let social media filter leads for you.

Don’t Do What You’ve Been Told
This may sound crazy, but it’s the best advice I can give. Stop using social media and LinkedIn to:

  • Make initial contact with prospects via LinkedIn connections
  • Send emails/InMails that ask for appointments—overlooking cold call best practices
  • Post updates on LinkedIn without a way to provoke buyers to contact you
  • Comment in LinkedIn groups without a means to spark curiosity in you (get response)
  • Message prospects on LinkedIn using a common group as a reason to speak

If you’re doing any of these, don’t worry. It’s not your fault. Otherwise good people who are looking to ride a wave have given you bad information. Unfortunately, they’re using fear and unbridled enthusiasm as weapons. Just say no.

Boldly Stand-up for the Facts
Kleeman wisely reminds us how the degree of sales productivity can be judged by observing. Take a look at what is going on around you. Notice who is adopting practices based on speculation versus the adoption of fact.

Take a look at the output each group is achieving. (How much money they’re making!)

In other words, are your sales peers being praised as “social selling leaders” simply for “being on” social media? Or are they being financially rewarded based on the facts—how much business they’re winning?

The Best of Both Worlds
Throwing out the old and implementing a very unproven new is hogwash. It’s a lazy strategy based on hot air. Tools like LinkedIn are providing a better way to identify and warm-up cold prospects … and finding “ready to buy” leads. Tons of value there. But …

“Try telling a broker of refurbished airplane parts that raw list cold calling is not a vital activity for revenue capture … try telling a manufacturer of plumbing, HVAC, and home improvement products that cold calling aimed at resellers and end users is ineffective,” says Kleeman.

“You just might need a degree in martial arts or unfettered access to the US military’s drone missile fleet to defend yourself,” he jokes.

Cold calling is alive, thriving and (surprise!) feeding winning social selling strategies. Today is your chance to improve cold calling and social selling thanks to new tools.

Forget about reinventing sales prospecting! Make sure your team has a prospecting strategy that exploits what already works using new social tools.

Generate Leads With Social Media by Provoking Thought, Not Leading It

Why is it so difficult to generate sales leads using social media? Probably because we’re all busy creating “quality content” (whatever that is!) rather than designing content to generate leads. At the risk of my wife divorcing me, I decided to take a year off and find out how businesses who actually are quietly succeeding with social media are doing it. A year’s worth of research confirmed my suspicions about the so-called “social media revolution” and revealed an exciting opportunity: A chance for more B-to-B and B-to-C marketers to generate tangible business leads and sales using tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and video.

Why is it so difficult to generate sales leads using social media? Probably because we’re all busy creating “quality content” (whatever that is!) rather than designing content to generate leads. At the risk of my wife divorcing me, I decided to take a year off and find out how businesses who actually are quietly succeeding with social media are doing it. A year’s worth of research confirmed my suspicions about the so-called “social media revolution” and revealed an exciting opportunity: A chance for more B-to-B and B-to-C marketers to generate tangible business leads and sales using tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and video.

The secret is now revealed: Selling with social media requires shifting the paradigm away from being thought leaders and toward being thought provokers.

These Brands Are Making Social Media Sell
My research revealed how people like Laura Messerschmitt of Intuit are convincing more and more customers to sign up for the Online Payroll product. I learned how investment and property management firm, Jones Lang LaSalle is generating tangible leads on seven-figure commercial real estate deals using YouTube. I discovered how Wisconsin’s AnchorBank and the Queensland Teachers’ Credit Union are increasing share of customers’ wallet and acquiring new customers at record pace.

This Is How They’re Doing it
What’s their secret? Turning friends, followers and content into sales, leads and subscribers means solving customers’ problems in ways that nurtures demand for larger solutions. These companies are helping customers gain clarity on complex problems and then leveraging that clarity. How? By answering questions in ways that make it increasingly rewarding for customers to take action, identify themselves as a lead.

Selling with social media demands brands become thought provokers, not just thought leaders.

Design to Sell, Become Addictive
Successful social sellers know: Engagement is not an outcome. It’s an opportunity to create response. But not by chance. Engagement must invite customers’ questions and respond to it in a deliberate way, as part of a social media-driven direct response marketing plan. This design gathers up customers’ itches (problems), scratches them (gives answers) in yet in incomplete ways. Holding back on providing the full solution is key.

The formula is incredibly close to the illegal narcotics trade. You give customers’ a sample providing momentary satisfaction, but not enough for the desire to be completely sated. In other words, here… have a little bit. You will feel something that you’ll enjoy but it won’t be enough, you’ll want to have more of it. In order to have more you’re going to have to talk to me—and you may even find yourself wanting to buy some from me!

Today’s true thought leaders are thought provokers. They are putting interesting, valuable, addictive thoughts “out there” in ways that prompt customers to ask for more, more often.

Take Action
Make social media sell. Ask yourself: are you giving customers a reason to talk to you on LinkedIn? Are your blogs so bold they provoke action? Does your content marketing strategy show customers ways to avoid risks they don’t yet know they have? Do your YouTube videos or white papers reveal hidden opportunity? Are your campaigns designed so that customers will contact you—so they your team can help them more clearly understand what you just provoked?

Today’s Top Marketers Are Translators, Publishers of Utilities

You can’t control customers anymore. You need to enter the conversation or risk becoming an irrelevant brand. And when you start conversing, you must be transparent and humanize yourself. You need to be monitoring the pulse of your brand image, mapping customers’ social graphs and architecting personas. Sound familiar?

You can’t control customers anymore. You need to enter the conversation or risk becoming an irrelevant brand. And when you start conversing, you must be transparent and humanize yourself. You need to be monitoring the pulse of your brand image, mapping customers’ social graphs and architecting personas. Sound familiar?

But rather than look at these typical Web 2.0 statements as valid, let’s question them at the core. No, you haven’t lost control of your customers. No the conversation they’re having about you isn’t really new … it’s just amplified and expedited by the social Web. Your brand image is “humanized” and you are honest with customers.
The truth is that what social media gurus and content marketing experts are offering as business advice is often outside of the context of a very important question:

“How can I use digital media to create sales, better products and improved experiences for my customers?”

Many social experts are well-intended but selling the wrong answers to the right questions.

If we continue to believe the hype-and-spin—that the rules of business have forever changed—we risk believing that engaging, tweeting and friending is more important than making sales or capturing leads. Or believing that somehow all we need to do is “do social media” and the sales will roll right-on-in.

Creating sales and leads using the social Web demands we see the big lie as a lie: The fundamental rules governing your business have not changed! There is no social media revolution … just a chance at evolution.

Leading social marketers are now translators. They’re discovering customer need, analyzing it, feeding it back into marketing programs and amping up optimization—generating more leads, more often.

The opportunity is to discover hidden customer need, tonurture and capture it by publishing and by creating knowledge-based utilities. That’s how I see it. How about you?

In Defense of Selling With Social Media

If presidential hopeful Mitt Romney doesn’t need to defend his financial success, why should I be forced to defend my book teaching people how to sell on Facebook? Lately, I’ve been taking flack from good-natured but misguided people in the social media community. And that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to his opinion and I’m fully aware that some people in marketing get paid to spend on branding rather than produce tangible outcomes.

If presidential hopeful Mitt Romney doesn’t need to defend his financial success, why should I be forced to defend my book teaching people how to sell on Facebook? Lately, I’ve been taking flack from good-natured but misguided people in the social media community. And that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to his opinion and I’m fully aware that some people in marketing get paid to spend on branding rather than produce tangible outcomes. In fact there’s a multi-billion dollar industry backing them.

But for a good few years now we’ve been told by “the experts” to avoid selling on social media. It’s not the place to sell and if we don’t understand that, they say we “don’t get it.” And for a good while now we—direct response marketers—have been feeling bad … like we don’t “get it.”

Enough is enough. We’re being told to stop selling by the same people who claim there’s a marketing revolution going on. But the reality is that the social media revolution is a lie. It isn’t happening and never happened. Proving this is simple: Count the number of totally revolutionized businesses that have fundamentally reinvented marketing—or business itself. Where are they?

Has your business been revolutionized by YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs or Twitter? Mine has been improved by these tools, but only because I haven’t listened to self-anointed experts! The global economy is on the brink. Selling in social media is just another way out, isn’t it?

I think being able to put bread on the table with social media is just fine. In fact, it’s great and I intend to do more with Facebook, YouTube and blogging to sell my products and services. Does this make me “not get it” or some kind of obnoxious pusher in social spaces? No. It makes me even more responsible to myself and customers. I need to be more relevant, succinct (in delivering my service) and valuable to them.

And I absolutely do not believe in the very popular myth that sales will somehow materialize if I just use social media—or get re-tweeted more often. So next time you hire a social media “expert” claiming that “social currency” is more important than real currency tell them that’s how you’ll pay them—in social currency. That’s how I see it, how about you?