On January 2nd, 2002 I joined a hot technology company in Toronto (where I’m based) as an Inside Sales Representative. My job was to man the phones, help prospects and clients, take orders and the like. As my first real job out of College, it was something I’ll never forget.
Within six months, I transitioned into a newly created position at the company called Inside Sales Account Manager, supporting the Field Account Executives in various locations throughout the Eastern USA.
This job marked the first time I actually carried a quota in my life. And so my career in sales began.
The Early Years – All About the Phones
As soon as I transitioned to carrying a quota, panic set in. There were quarterly targets, sales meetings, management wanting to know what I did, how often I did it and the stress started to set in.
One of the key metrics that my manager analyzed was:
- Number of dials per day (50-75 day was the goal)
- Talk time on the phones
- How many connections we made with a live contact
The company I worked at was an interesting one; Field Account Executives were tasked with selling one product line but the job of the company’s newer product line fell directly on us.
And because of this, I had to cold call like a maniac to try and talk to as many people as I could. I’ll never forget my manager’s words, “Never give up on the phones, even when you’re doing well, keep pounding away on the phones.”
The results were great! The internet was hardly in use by the majority of B2B buyers so for every 50-75 dials I made, I had about 10-12 good sales conversations every day (that’s an average). Life couldn’t be better because I had figured out a routine that worked.
Fast Forward to the late 2000’s – Cold Calling Takes a Beating!
As internet usage and adoption increased, more vendors started to do “content marketing.” It became easier for buyers to research us online. People were leaving reviews about us in every way imaginable.
This changed everything. And then came social media to accelerate the buyer transition.
By the time LinkedIn took off like a rocket, and Facebook was such a norm, my buyers would be online, talking to their peers from other industries and bluntly discussing their experiences with us. I clearly remember one buyer smashing us to pieces based on a missed deadline.
This experience taught me that social media would be the game changer that none of us expected. Good reviews could go viral but the bad ones could crush us. This forced us to focus on the customer and make them happy, at any cost. More so than ever before, I might add.
More than this, my cold calling contact rates were incredibly bad! My average 50 dial/day ratio was barely getting me 1 sales conversation/day. My quotas kept going up every year and the number of people I was talking to was steadily decreasing. This doesn’t make for a good recipe to make the number.
Joining Sales for Life – The Path of Prescriptive Social Selling
When I joined Sales for Life in mid-2013, I was very adept and used to social media. But I wasn’t sure if what I did was correct or was making an impact. I didn’t use social that much because no one had taught me – in a formalized and institutionalized program – how social could be used in the overall sales process to effectively drive more pipeline and revenue.
I was immediately hooked!
I resonated with the concepts right away because I understood the necessity of companies aligning to a prescriptive routine that sales could follow to enhance their pipeline building efforts.
A formal cold calling training program was introduced to us at my first company, so organizations inherently understood the value of aligning everyone to a common routine.
Integrating Social a Part of the Sales Process
One of the biggest things I learned – and that I endorse completely now – is that social can’t live in a silo. It’s appealing to sales professionals because it can tempt them from forgetting about cold phone and email outreach, but that wouldn’t be smart.
What I do now is use social to enhance all other aspects of my sales process. I know what to do when I do cold outreach by phone or e-mail; I also know what to do in the middle of the funnel as well. So instead of relying on just one communications medium, I now heavily rely on phone, e-mail and social to increase my probability of helping potential clients.
The Bottom Line
If you’re dabbling in or actively using social, I commend you! But remember, never lose focus on other points of outreach. Why would you want to diminish your probability of success?
Secondly, understand that social is a great avenue as buyers are learning without you. If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will! This is frankly the worst position to be in when you show up to a sales meeting and the buyer has done so much research about you, your company and industry, and you haven’t been able to contextualize any of it.
And lastly, focus on the integration of social into your existing sales process. And I really mean right down to the daily activity. For instance, if a lead comes into your CRM, know exactly what to do, what type of content to share, etc.
Social Selling is a game-changer in sales when used correctly. Have you formally learned how best to apply it yet?
Sound off by tweeting me @AmarSheth or connect with me on LinkedIn here.