Sales is the nucleus to every business, and sales models these days are undergoing a tidal wave of change. Buzz words like social sales, social selling or Sales 2.0 reflect the change social media is having on the way people do business. What do CEOs think about social sales? My experience tells me they don’t think about it at all. When it comes to sales models, they are comfortable with the status quo and their sales teams are selling like it’s 1999. It’s time for change.
There are many in the C-suite who aren’t adapting to social selling — but why?
- Is it because of the age demographic? The median age of a CEO in 2013 was 55 — perhaps that’s the biggest hurdle to overcome.
- Is it because the C-suite is also risk averse? They are quick to point out examples of social media gone wrong.
- Perhaps social sales is an ambiguous term and not well defined within their sales and marketing teams. Many are familiar with terms such as tweets, likes, posts and updates, but how does that relate to social selling? How it’s used in B2B? What value it can bring?
- Is it time? Who has extra time to learn about it, apply it, manage it and measure it?
- Or, is it just easier to ignore it or believe the myths?
No matter the reason, what it boils down to is that Sales 2.0 requires change. Change in thinking, in communication, in approach and behavior; change in the ROI model, in direction, in vision, in sales philosophy and in time management; change in sales training, in company and employee transparency and an overall change in mindset. Change is the obstacle.
Social selling provides access to customers, media, vendors, competitors, referrals, industries, markets, governments, institutions and just about anything else you can think of — and it is sustainable and profitable. Your peers agree — just ask them. CEOs on Twitter. CMOs on Twitter. CIOs on Twitter. CFOs on Twitter. CTOs on Twitter.
Social selling requires you to tell your story, personally and professionally. It’s a platform to tell the story of your customers, employees, company, industry, products and so on. Your story is your brand and building your brand builds value for your brand. Many companies have some social presence or activity online. But social selling requires a strategy. A strategy that’s well thought out, well executed and well measured. Simply doing social media to do it is a waste of time. Finally, social selling requires authenticity and transparency. Let your audience know who you are, what you do and why you do it. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. At first, this can be awkward and uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be. It’s what sets those CEOs who embrace it apart from those who put their head in the sand and ignore it. The audience has to believe that you are real. No spin, no PR, no “buy our product” or “like” our Facebook page because we say so.
What results can a social sales model deliver? Here are a few examples:
- Increase sales revenue by increasing the engagement with your target audience in such a way that it will get them to “act.”
- Decrease the cost of acquisition of customers to improve your bottom line and enable you to manage to budget.
- Reduce marketing costs (direct mail, collateral material, trade shows, etc.) by cross promoting your product and service offerings via social network engagement.
- Reduce your sales cycle and accelerate company growth.
- Provide an exceptional customer, vendor and employee experience where brand champions are created across the board that results in others telling your company’s story for you.
- Gain competitive intelligence that you can leverage to differentiate your product, services and customer experience.
- Hire top tier talent in real time, which adds value to your organization, reduces your talent acquisition costs and increases employee satisfaction and retainment.
- Implement a Social CRM program that tracks account activity, customer engagement, evaluates website traffic and conversions and enables you to measure the effectiveness of your online efforts. What gets measured gets managed.
- Build your brand and define how you are perceived online. Build a strategy that gets you noticed with your target audience. The only thing better than being impressed when they do business with you is being impressed well before they do business with you. Leverage “social” to be an effective, interactive business and branding tool.
- Build relationships with the press, e.g. trade journals, industry publications, bloggers and journalists at targeted media outlets.
Who’s doing it right? The list is expanding everyday but I found this interesting piece about FedEx earlier this month. Hewlett Packard co-founder David Packard once said that “CEOs who leave marketing to the marketing department are not doing themselves, their investors, or their employees any favors.” Josh James, Domo founder and CEO, wrote a fantastic piece in Forbes over a year ago, that I still find fascinating and relevant today. Ekatrina Walter has an interesting take on CEOs on Twitter.
So, what’s your capacity for change? Are you inclined to adapt or adopt a social sales strategy? We’d welcome the opportunity to present to your leadership team if you’d like to learn more about “the why.” We’d also like to interview readers of this blog for an upcoming book on the C-suite and social sales. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d be willing to participate and provide your feedback.
At Social Brand U, our passion lies in partnering with CEOs who want to build a productive Social Selling model that transforms strategy into results. Our capacity for change is unlimited, unwavering, profitable and exciting! What’s your capacity for change?