This article was originally posted by Koka Sexton on the LinkedIn Sales Solutions Blog.
Using social networks like LinkedIn have proven to be impactful over the years for sales professionals. Cold calling, though revered by some, is quickly losing its ability to get a decision maker’s attention.
There is a blend of the two worlds that is rarely discussed but needs to be addressed.
On one side is the phone, a tool that’s been used for decades. Probably the single most effective tool for sales professionals, it allowed sales professionals to scale in unprecedented ways until email came along. Phone and email are the tools that traditional sales professionals and leaders have come to trust.
On the other hand, we have social media. Traditionally adopted by marketing, social networks have been used as a broadcast tool and more recently as a place to build communities. When used by sales professionals in the right way, social networks become one of the most effective applications to connect, communicate, and generate pipeline. Social selling is fairly new, but the impact it is having around the world is becoming more evident as companies are able to attribute revenue to the activities of their sales team.
These sales strategies are not mutually exclusive. A sales professional could continue only using the phone and dial for dollars, or they could go all in with social networks like LinkedIn and find some success either way. I am biased as to which one I would focus my energy on, but I know that there is a way these tactics can be balanced to maximize results.
The best of both worlds
The reality is that even though social selling is highly effective, getting your decision makers on the phone is still necessary in most sales cycles. Moving from online to offline with efficiency is the key. With this being true, sales professionals need to become experts in both, and sales leaders need to adopt new applications to ensure the success of their teams.
In social selling, you need to leverage your professional brand to identify the right people and to fill your pipeline by using insights while building strong relationships. It all starts with your professional brand and there is no other network designed to showcase your brand like LinkedIn. This is why having a social selling methodology is so important for sales executives to empower their teams to be successful.
The idea is to use social signals as trigger events to engage with decision makers. By socially surrounding these buyers, your chances of seeing these triggers increases exponentially, as does your proximity to them if you build social capital. The goal of this is to take the online conversations you are having offline to a meeting or call that can further build the relationship and move the sale along.
The science of social selling is knowing the methodology of leveraging both disciplines in a process that identifies:
- decision makers at scale and engaging with as many as possible in social media and
- funneling these decision makers into traditional tactics of getting only the highly qualified buyers on a call in order to maximize your effectiveness.
Building a bridge between social media and your phone should be a strategy all sales leaders focus on this year. Having a team of sales professionals building relationships by the hundreds online without having the process in place to take those relationships through the buying process offline is a waste of energy.
Relationships are important, but they don’t bring in revenue if your only actions are “likes” and “shares.” The winning playbook combines both strategies and coaches sales professionals to use them proficiently.
I’ll be continuing the discussion with Ken Krogue from XANT in a webinar at 11 a.m. PT on Feb. 10 and would love for you to join us. Register here.