Blowback! Social Media and the Next Great Corporate Sales Challenge

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

Sales Challenge

Social media has created a new dynamic in the relationship between salespeople and customers. For organizations still living in the 90’s, embracing this dynamic is the next great sales challenge.

There are many analogies, explanations, laws, theories, concepts and interpretations of karma.

Maybe I’m too simplistic, but I like to think of it as the law of causality (like Wikipedia describes).

In military terms, we’d call it blowback: suffering an unintended consequence due to your actions (or lack of). I don’t think that many corporate leaders today are naïve enough to think that they’re just buying time, imagining they won’t get left behind as the world of business evolves.

Here at Sales for Life, we’ve made some pretty bold predictions. But they’re based on what we’re seeing around us. I’m going to further this by saying that there is a fast-approaching period of corporate blowback that management will soon have to deal with.

Companies that are going on about their business selling like it was 1990 are still the norm. They make minor changes in strategy to feel like they’ve done something, when in reality the marketplace is changing faster than they’re willing to admit.

Worst of all, I think they know this. But as I said earlier, they’re just buying time. We’re all creatures of habit after all. Instead of really hitting the innovation curve hard, leadership is comfortable sticking to the status quo.

And this is where unintended consequences will do the most damage. They come from two sources:

  • Your Clients
  • Prospective Buyers

As the world of business becomes more digital and learning becomes more ubiquitous, your buyers are moving away from the traditional “sales rep-client” relationship. Frankly, they don’t need us the way they used to. As a Hootsuite white paper recently stated, the decision to use social media has already been made by our customers.

Social Media Power

The years of delivering no value and getting away with it are over. The blowback period has officially begun. Its effects may be felt very quickly for some, while for others the effects may manifest more slowly. Either way, the movement has started. The next great sales challenge has begun.

Clients are demanding more than ever and it’s up to all of us as salespeople to deliver in a meaningful way. Are you ready for it? Companies that are too afraid or frankly too lazy to change will get weeded out in the process of natural selection.

Your Sales Reps

As buyers move away, your unprepared sales reps will revolt. It’s already starting. It amazes me how many sales reps call us for information and guidance, complaining that their leadership doesn’t want anything to do with the social media sales challenge.

Two cases in point:

  • A Sales Director from a major publication company (with over 300 sales reps nationwide) told me last week, and I repeat verbatim, “I believe cold calling is the only thing my sales reps need.”
  • A new Account Executive in charge of account acquisition told me that his VP of Sales is so focused on meeting quarterly targets that he can’t find the time to learn about social media.

No Vision

Eventually, corporate leaders will suffer because their main economic engines (sales reps) will find new and happy homes elsewhere. Sales professionals are seeking meaningful employment at companies that are innovative, challenging and able to grab customer mindshare.

The Bottom Line

As a sales leader, you have an important choice to make in the years ahead – you can adopt social media or perish. This is the next great sales challenge. The blowback has already started; it might be in small pockets today, but it is spreading. Now is the time for a course correction and a focus on sales innovation. It’ll be healthy for your company, your sales team and most importantly, your bottom line.

Need to see how first hand how social selling is changing the dynamics of prospecting and opportunity management? Feel free to pick my brain on the next great sales challenge by booking some time in my schedule by following the link below.

To learn more about social selling, check out 10 Steps to Becoming a Social Selling Machine or 9 Steps to a Winning LinkedIn Profile for Sales Professionals.

Amar Sheth


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