What the 1% successful sales people do differently

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Sales is undergoing the most massive changes since many decades. Compare it to the change from Hawkers tray to selling in tie and suit. Or the transition from horse drawn carriages to taxis. Yet 90% of the experienced sales people will deny that change.

Here is a process we introduced about 2 years ago with good success after lots of learning:

Social Selling as a process one can learn

1) Identify the companies you are going after.
2) Then look up the company in LinkedIn and find employees that may be relevant or influential to what you want to do.
3) Consider other business networks depending on the country (Xing in central Europe, RenRen in China…) .
4) Find other presences of the people you want to build relationships with in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, FourSquare…
5) Follow them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest (do not even try to connect at this point).
6) Visit their profiles as they may track visitors, try to join groups they are active in.
7) Think as if they may be a potential friend for sharing some hobbies.
8) IMPORTANT focus entirely on the personal side or whatever challenges they expose. Know what is on top of their mind.
9) Once you know them, start being helpful. Completely forget that you want to do business, forget about the pressure to sell and so forth. Keep in mind nobody want to be sold. RT their content, like their posts, but be honest and not linking stuff you don’t like or have no clue what they are talking about. Make helpful comments or make meaningful introductions.
10) After two weeks see if you have a relationship :) You will have a dialog with more then 50% of the contacts if you DO NOT sell AT ALL (compared to a 1% success rate on cold calling).

11) From here on everything else is a piece of cake: You know everything about the person, and they know everything about you if you are open and if they are interested. You even know if they are in the market – way before your competition goes through the old pattern of “Budget, project, authority blah blah blah”. Most importantly: The prospect will initiate the business conversation with YOU instead of you selling to THEM (which is the beginning of the end in 82% of sales engagements across industries and markets).

12) The entire negotiation process which is not only about terms and numbers, but an important way to get to know each other is now significantly shorter which improves the sales efficiency quite nicely. More so forecast accuracy grows and deal stability is entirely different – I’m sure you know many of those deals where you think the buyer is a friend of your competitor, you still don’t know exactly and so forth. Now you are a friend in every single deal.

NOTE: While it is still a process, it is far less mechanical than the traditional cold call or sales initiation process. “Social Selling” is way more human and it can be learn in a similar spirit as we learn to make friends of find a partner in life 

Seven Skills that you will develop over time

1) Digital body language (It’s like your first introduction to physical body language)
2) Network Time Management (how many, how much, how often, when, where…)
3) NCP handling (Network – Contribution – Participation) How big should your network be, what contribution to the network works best, how do you measure network success?
4) You will develop skills to significantly grow your network WITHOUT scarifying relationship strength or depth
5) You will get more face to face meetings then ever before but less with the same person
6) You will develop more people skills than can be explained in this one post
7) You will develop networking skills and senses that you only develop when you are “in”

 

What is so successful on that process?

Emotionally it feels much better but economically you may wonder: a very successful cold caller can do over 100 calls a day with immediate response, while our social sales person will take two weeks to get to a relationship. But after two weeks the actual result summary looks very different:

Traditional sales:
100 cold calls a day, 2 successes equates to 20 successes in two weeks

Social Sales:
300 touches a day, every other day = 600 people in two weeks
50% response rate = 300 people and 20% success rate out of that = 60 successes

BUT: There is no free lunch! Implementing this process is not easy

 

Why is it so difficult to implement?

Even though it may look very natural and obvious to many, it is very difficult to implement in a business with traditional sales processes. The number of business who can’t implement this outnumber those who can:

1) You can’t mix and match hard core selling with social selling. It’s almost like allowing to preach Buddhism in the Vatican. Obviously a single cold call would blow the the process in a second.

2)  The larger part of a sales organization, in particular the more experienced sales people will have a hard time to adopt this new technique. It took them years to practice and perfect their sales techniques to eventually master it. Almost starting from scratch is an astronomic burden – unless they understand how fast they actually can adopt and realize that the past experience is actually very helpful in the adoption process and getting them back to a “master” in a year, while junior sales people may still learn 3 to 5 years to get even near that level.

3) Most of the times it requires to change KPIs and how the sales team is compensated, even redefine what is success etc. Many highly experienced sales executives won’t take that risk.

The social selling technique remains to be an option only for the most agile companies on the planet. From a macro economic point of view it maybe actually a good situation as it helps small companies to outperform large organizations. And that in turn provides the much needed growth of mid market businesses.

If you want to know more about it in greater details, feel free to ping me any time. In the next few weeks I will turn this into a white paper with much more details.

Here is my social presence:
http://xeeMe.com/AxelS

 

Thousands Of Social Media Agencies/Managers At Risk

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I recently wrote a post “Over 70% of Social Media initiatives FAIL“. I received more personal responses on that one post than on all posts I wrote in the past 5 years together. It inspired my to write this response to the overarching question: “What shall we do“.

No project success – No Reference

The consequence of failing projects – beyond the fact that it failed: here goes a potential reference customer.
Agencies have to come to a bitter realization:

Taking a print brochure to the web was an important transition
Taking a webpage and share it with friends is meaningless

Tens of thousands of agencies and social media consultants struggle to run their business. The social web is just NOT what so many people think: “just yet another marketing channel”.

10 things successful agencies do differently

Successful teams think entirely different and help their business clients to think through the entire chain of implications of a social engagement rather than just selling followers, fans and a page. And this is no different whether it is a 25 people small business company or a 25,000 employee global enterprise.

1) Understanding the opportunity

The biggest opportunity for any business is to grow the number of recommendations. Depending on the research, between 50% and 80% of all educated purchased decisions are based on recommendations. Taping into that potential is the best a business can do.

2) Ability to coach and guide

Now – in order to be recommended, the company need to develop a good relationship with their customers. And outsourcing that relationshp building process is not only a bad idea it is actually *counterproductive* to the overarching objective of becoming more recommended. A good agency or consultant knows that and can coach the client to build large sustainable networks with strong relationships.

3) Strategic thinking

It isn’t enough to be just nice. That cost too much time and often time has no impact on the bottom line AND is no real help for the customer. Businesses need to develop a sound plan and need to know what customers actually want, what they love and what they get frustrated with. A superficial analysis again is a killer. The findings determine the strategy and if they are not a true reflection of the market – the strategy will be equally superficial. This is no rocket science – because there are robust models to do that and successful agencies just use those techniques.

4) Compelling Engagement

Customers want to be compelled, we need to excite them and engage them in a way its fun and worth spending time. Plus – and most importantly – it need to be of value to the customer too. Successful agencies work equally close with their clients customers to know what they want and understand what values they need. The outcome are compelling engagements that are fun for the team and their clients.

5) Social Media Monitoring

Businesses want new customers and need to ensure that existing customers are happy – so happy that they help new customers make a decision and help them understand advantages and disadvantages of a product or service. The top agencies understand the power of professional social media monitoring tools and how they help businesses actually “manage” to navigate a whole team through the engagement.

6) Amplification Strategies

Smart agencies know how to build amplification strategies on top of the social media engagement to stimulate conversations and buzz. Understanding the true anatomy of buzz is a key knowledge of a well oild agency or consulting organization.

7) Timely Execution

A highly successful agency or consulting organization knows about all the permutation of the social web and focuses on a methodical execution of a project to ensure fast delivery with out any trial and error. Methods simply help teams to stay on course and show customers a professional execution path.

8) Organization Alignment

Nothing is more frustrating than a shiny front and a dirty back operation. Helping businesses to streamline their back end based on customer needs is a huge challenge but also the biggest opportunity for extraordinary success. Customer recommend businesses if they are happy with how they can do business with a company. If a company fails to provide that support, a recommendation will not happen and all the Social Media engagement is worthless. Top agencies and consultants know how to help a company to amke necessary adjustments without putting an organization upside down.

9) Developing Manageable Plans

We all know, if we can measure something we can improve it. A social media engagement is no different. Manageable plans and procedures are important – despite the fact that everything is much more fluent and we want to let go on many of the stiff procedures. But without any guidance, milestones, objectives no social media project will be successful. Top agencies know what to do here.

10) Knowing the impact on the bottom line

In the end very successful agencies and consultants are able to help a client understand the revenue opportunity and the impact on the bottom line for a business. If more and more customers begin to publicly recommend a business, the revenue grows even without additional sales people. If more and more customers get empowered and motivated to help others, the support cost goes down while ties to a brand get actually stronger. If more and more recommendations from the market are getting realized in new product generations the risks for product flops get dramatically reduced and advocates and fans help launch the new product.

 

Summary

All of the above is neither complicated nor requires an enormous amount of work. But it requires to understand the inner workings of a market, it is very helpful to have proven methods, models and frameworks to work with as an intelligent toolbox and it requires a few projects of practice – ideally in conjunction with people who have been through the drill before :). After going through the above list you will probably also realize why an agency is not necessarily “advertising” their successes but rather be recommended by their clients – the same way they suggest to the clients “get recommended”.

 

Axel

http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

Over 70% of Social Media initiatives FAIL

Here is what happens:

Customer: We need to get our number of fans up, some more follower and some really hot buzz campaign. We need some agency who can really deliver.
Agency: We can do that for you. We have people who setup your presence, tweet for you and do some blogging. We upload a few photos and take care of feedback. We also do social media monitoring.
Customer: Great – here are $3,500 per month and I expect you double my followers, grow my fan base, steer up some noise and generate solid leads for me.
Agency: Done deal – we’ll start tomorrow morning.
Now – our agency has 1,700 followers on Twitter 900 friends on Facebook and over 500 connections on LinkedIn. She tweets, posts, uploads images and produces a few cool videos here and there. And because all of this is new and a new deal, all her friends chime in, like stuff and get excited. And so these “leads” are as bad as the contact lists the marketing department bought the other day but the numbers go up :)
First review with the customer:
Agency: Hey – this was super cool. We created 20% more follower for you, you got 20 more @Messages, we grew fans by 25% and the views on YouTube grew by 50%  – how cool is that?
Customer: Awesome :)) Making notes to share it with his boss. Next Marketing meeting is going to be cool. He just can envision the impressive chart. OK what are we going to do next? I need some more details from Social Media Monitoring and an ongoing lead flow now.
Agency: Sure – no problem. We’ll drive traffic to your registration page
The next few days get a bit hectic but the agency is able to tweet, post and blast out the registration page promising some super cool product from company X. The registration key “social media’ will show the company how much power is behind Social Media.
A few weeks later
Agency: Hey – how’s going? Did you see a few leads coming in?
Customer: Hey – you are terrific. Yes we got 35% more lead flow in just 3 weeks this is outstanding…
Agency: Cool – we’ll keep rocking
Six month into it
Customer: Hey – we got to talk. Sales is complaining about those ‘Social Media Leads” they are all crap. We have to shift gear!!!
Agency: I’m so sorry to hear that. Not sure what the issue is we drove hundreds of leads your way.
Customer: I know – I know – but we have to shift gear.
Agency: Well that brings me to another point. One of my clients hired my to work for him full time. I’m really sorry but I won’t be able to continue the engagement.
Customer: Arrrrrgggggg
Customer seeking a new agency
Customer: Here is where we are – the whole story – We have an event in 8 weeks and I really need to show some traction. I need to ramp up the signup rate.
Agency: Totally understand. We have a large team that can tweet for you and generate some substantial buzz. But it’s gonna cost you.
Customer: I understand. I’m ready to make some more substantial investments….
The event didn’t show any serious improvements in signups.
Agency: You know that was way to short notice. Social Media is more long term, building relationships and such.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Does that sound familiar to you?

Why that could never work and bring any tangible results:

1) The Network Mistake

Whoever tweets or posts does that to the network they have. If a person from an agency is tweeting, the audience are her friends and nobody else. Unless the business motivates all their customers and prospects to follow and befriend the people from the agency – there is no connection and no one from the target audience will likely get the posts. Of course they may listen to specific hash tags but that is such a weak connection that it is not worth the effort and cost.

SOLUTION

The market facing teams in the company need to build their connections to partners, customers, vendors and prospects in the first place. If those people tweet and share interesting and valuable content, likelihood of somebody relevant is reading it is much higher. And even more important those teams will develop much better and more intense relationships with their relevant audience.

2) Feedback Mistake

Now lets assume the customer would read about any of the interesting things. Most likely they would get in touch with the agency. That is probably not what a customer understands as very “social” – more so the agency probably doesn’t know all the relevant contacts in the company so they forward new contacts as “leads” to a central person in the company who then in turn looks for the right person. But hey I expect to talk to the author and have an instant dialog – and 5 seconds later I want to go on in my business. So I would follow this age old process only one time and never again. Let alone the load and inefficiency within the organization.

SOLUTION

Have the person who is in charge be the one who provides the content – see previous topic. A customer with a question would be able to get in touch with the person right away and a tweet later he or she has a response. And if the team member does not want to get in touch with a customer – move to a different department.

3) The Content Mistake

The typical “social media marketing campaign” is filled with “valuable content” – but in reality it is a product promotion, event invitation or other business announcements. And obviously why should our agency team build friendships with those unknown customers. Just imagine for a second that your sales team is not very customer oriented and sends people from an agency to play with them golf. What would that conversation look like?  You get the idea.

SOLUTION

Instead of blasting “valuable content” into the face of our new relationships, request the teams to build and strengthen the relationships in the first place. Like they would be on a golf course. The only difference is that 18 tweets cost 2 Minutes 18 holes a full day. The business relevant content can later on be carefully be woven into the conversation – like on the green.

 

I know I know – you don’t have the time to train your team – you need to get it done now. And you don’t see a reason for creating a sound and solid strategy. And you probably don’t have the patience to think through all that in great detail – come on it can’t be that difficult and it looks like the majority of companies do it exactly that way.

I hope this is at least fruit for thought when you start your next social media marketing blast party.

 

 

Digital Agenda EU review meeting

Thank you for attending our LIVE webinar today. 

If you were unable to attend or would like watch the presentation again and share it, there is a recording available.

Quick review from the event

* The Social Media Strategy (Goals, Mission, Actions, Resources…)
* Next steps (What needs to be done, who is in, what can you expect…)
* Next Countries
* 2012 / 13 Milestones


 

The deck is also available via Slideshare

 If we didn’t get to a question that you had about Digital Sunrise Europe, please comment or join our group on Facebook.

Conference Review – Digital Agenda 2012 Conference Brussels

Presentation in parliament

The great work finishes with a great presentation by workshop moderator David Smith at the parliament of the European Commission.

The pan European Social Media Strategy was already mentioned as a great effort of the Digital Agenda Assembly in the morning of that day. No question, thinking out of the box and just doing what needs to be done receives more attention than arguing about what others should do. :)

 

Impact

During the workshop and its presentations on Thursday (June 21)  #da12social  was “trending” on Twitter. This is an outstanding achievement because Twitter is recognizing only the most intense discussions. So far no public sector discussion ever reached that level. We grew to 90 Million impressions and reached 20 Million people during the Digital Agenda event (per reported data by the Digital Agenda). A HUGE thanks to Berrie Pelser and all of those power networker, some of the best connected people in Europe and approximately 1,900 people who helped spread the word during that day. You know my mantra: “We may achieve the extraordinary – If nobody notices, it won’t make a difference!”

 

Three major achievements

a) We demonstrated that a highly skilled team has the ability to crowd source important research and then develop a market relevant and success oriented pan European strategy proposal in less time than 6 weeks.
b) We demonstrated to tens of thousands (apparently up to 20 Million people) that Social Media is a serious way to collaborate across an entire continent and allows to achieve results in extreme short period of time at an unprecedented low cost: no travel expense, absolute minimal administrative overhead and on top: next to no environmental deficit.
c) We demonstrated on a broad level that with initiative and courage combined with an open and democratic society – everybody’s contribution does make a difference.

The huge feedback from participants, such as EC members, politicians,  event attendees and people from the outside following our activities, made it very clear: We already made a difference.

 

Execution

Obviously that was only the beginning. During the participatory workshops we explored in total 9 activities from which 5 seemed to resonated most. We will make a formal proposal how we can execute those activities and what measurable results we can deliver:

1) Education
Educate social media professionals across Europe gaining the skills necessary to quickly expand what we started. We trust we can educate at least 2-5 professionals in each EU country that can in turn educate others down the road and lay the foundation for a homogeneous understanding how social media can create measurable business improvements and create new jobs as a result. We have already over 20 applicants from 7 EU countries who are interested in such a program.

2) Growing Export
Create and roll out an initiative that inspires more than 1,000 business leaders across all 27 member countries  expanding their export capabilities by leveraging social media, creating success stories others can follow and new jobs based on the expanded business. During the conference we have so far 5 businesses who would like to benefit from that.

3) Business Competition
Initiate a business competition where at least 500 business leaders compete for best possible customer experience, creating business advocates and inspire other business leaders to follow. It is also essential that we not only help entrepreneurs to start a business but equally important grow a sustainable business operation and jobs.

4) Public Sector Involvement
Involve the public sector, such as local authorities, chamber of commerce, unions, local EC outlets in the above initiatives so that we get additional local support on one side and the public sector is “learning by doing” the effects of social media. Also during the conference we saw interest from participants from the Sweden, Spanish and UK government to participate.

5) Industry Collaboration
Cooperate with large enterprises who also want to grow their business in the mid market and are interested in sponsoring a significant amount of money for a pan European awareness campaign that provides the needed visibility to make as many companies as possible aware of the advantages of a single digital market. We have also here some larger enterprises considering to support the initiative.

 

Commitment

All of the above have very clearly measurable objectives and an achievable execution deadline: Summer 2013. Currently approximately 20 people each day express their interest to join the initiative. The EC officers clearly encouraged us to continue with what we started.

 

Next Step

1) We will document the Social Media Strategy details that we worked on during our preparation meeting and work on a detailed execution and resource plan as well as cost structure over the next few days.

2) We will present all details and an initial time table for going forward on Thursday July 5 Please Register Here. This will include how we can involve other countries (the Swedish and the Spanish team are already constituted), how we can execute the above topics, how we can get funding for the initiative and how we can eventually help creating 2 Million new jobs across Europe by 2016.

3) We will prepare a concrete proposals for each of the five topics explaining how the EC can support our plans.

 

Taking a break

Again, I want to thank all of you who helped us get that far. This was an unprecedented initiative and I trust we can make a significant contribution to the European economy. I  also want to thank everybody from the EC for their encouragement and support for our engagement. It certainly changed my picture about the work of the EC.

For now, take a break, focus on your current priorities and think about to what extend and capacity you can help going forward. I hope I will see most of you at the July 5 online presentation.

AxelS

Social Media Acceleration with Partner Channels

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Expanding market reach has always been one of the biggest advantages of indirect partner channels. And in the Social Media age this is no different. It is actually an advantage like no other if that force can be unleashed.

We all learned, Social Media is not just another channel to blast a message out. Social Media is primarily about Relationships. And one of the biggest challenges is to leverage the new media with existing Resources to be as approachable as possible and build customer Relationships that are valued and lead to Recommendations and at the same time extend the company’s Reach.

Resources – Relationships – Recommendations – Reach

Managing the 4 Rs. The good news is that social media provides platforms, tools and techniques to overcome those issues and help teams to engage and create a customer experience that makes a brand stand out and well received by its customers. Teams respond to requests on Twitter, have chats with prospects on Facebook, share video clips on YouTube, share product photos or screen shots on Pinterest, provide product updates, news and much more across the various platforms and networks to people they are connected with so they can share it with their contacts, colleagues and business friends if they find it of value.

 

Resource Explosion

Now imagine you have a partner channel across the glob. If you can train that partner network and their teams to do the very same locally, in their niches, in their geographies and industries. Your communication power would simply explode. And all it takes are business partners who are open minded enough to give this new world a try. Within most partner networks are “Alpha Animals” who jump on new opportunities and quickly inspire others to follow.

Imagine that news get not only re-tweeted by a handful of team mates but by hundreds or even thousands of business partners reaching their local networks around the world. Comments not only come from a few engaged direct customers but from customers around the world.

 

Partner Training

Helping partners understand the opportunity not only to strengthen your brand but also strengthen the relationships to their local markets is the most important Social Media Strategy a channel focused business can have today. Partners will want to understand the impact of Social Media to their business. It isn’t so much about how to tweet or how to build a fan page but about the purpose and business objectives, about the return on investment and the possible competitive advantage. Partners need to learn to create a sound social media engagement plan that provides an opportunity to grow their business. Over the past 3 years, the Social Media Academy developed and continuously fine tuned a dedicated Channel Partner Empowerment Program that is considered to be one of the best in the world. The training is provided online through a social eLearning platform that allows thousands of partners from around the world to be trained. The program includes partner manager training so the managers know what partners learned and what to ask for.

 

Global Social Media Initiatives

Only best educated partners are capable to jointly collaborate on global social media initiatives. Partner empowerment is not only a “goody” for partners to become more successful but also a requirement for channel oriented vendors to create successful social media initiatives.

 

Most recent awareness initiative – Tweeting #da12social updates

283 tweets generated 3,219,789 impressions, reaching an audience of 802,507 followers within the past 24 hours

 

Top 10 by number of impressions Top 10 by number of tweets Top 10 by number of followers
  1. berriepelser: 1,291,374
  2. axels: 571,389
  3. lorimoreno: 475,550
  4. swissbusiness: 275,952
  5. maritar: 111,314
  6. confluencemedia: 76,914
  7. zaplindasilva: 52,908
  8. henrystradford: 25,792
  9. seodixitbaiju: 22,054
  10. bee_ruud: 20,050
  1. axels: 21
  2. maritar: 14
  3. olafkracht: 12
  4. berriepelser: 9
  5. peterfinney: 9
  6. tzarulnicolai: 7
  7. joclarbh: 6
  8. socialtele: 5
  9. rogerat: 5
  10. serviceplease20: 5
  1. lorimoreno: 237,775
  2. berriepelser: 143,486
  3. swissbusiness: 68,988
  4. axels: 27,209
  5. zaplindasilva: 26,454
  6. henrystradford: 25,792
  7. confluencemedia: 25,638
  8. seodixitbaiju: 22,054
  9. waynehurlbert: 12,721
  10. carlyathorne: 12,260

See More details here: http://www.hashtracking.com/fast-report/?hashtag=da12social
(keep in mind that the stats on hastracking is dynamic and changes every day)

Digital Agenda Conference – Twitter Life Stream

On June 21, 2012, the Social Media Strategy team will present its research and strategy proposal during the Digital Agenda Conference to the EU Commission.  We will try to report as much as possible during the conference and keep everybody up to date.

Please tune into #da12social on twitter or use Twebevent.com/da12social to follow the conversation.

Making #da12social trending on June 21

We’d like to get as broad as possible coverage across all 27 EU countries.  Please let your friends, colleagues, customers know – something outstanding is happening. Unfortunately there is no region called “EUROPE” on Twitter but if we get all engaged we may even get #da12social trending on a global scale that day – JUNE 21

 

This is what it’s all about:

30 strategists, 250 volunteers created 1,000+ pages of crowd sourced research and 1 strategy proposal in 4 weeks#da12social #outstanding
https://twitter.com/AxelS/status/212439249352540160

300 extraordinary volunteers created a plan, 4 1000′s of consultants and 100,000′s of businesses to grow. #da12social http://XeeMe.com/da12social‬
http://twitter.com/AxelS/status/212630243305979905

 

Suggestions & Support

If you have any questions, suggestions or like to help, please get in touch with Berrie Pelser who manages the awareness campaign and is our “Buzz Master” :)