Social Selling Haters Gonna Hate (And Why They’re Wrong)

Amar Sheth
Amar Sheth

Why Social Selling Haters Gonna HateIn 1995, Clifford Stoll made a promise about how the internet was just all hype in an article. He argued that telecommuting, better learning in schools, commerce, newspapers, and generally everything wouldn’t be impacted or disrupted by the internet.

Not only did he dismiss the transformative potential the internet would have in our lives, he was quick to question the technology’s scale as well.

This was 20 short years ago.

The journalist has since (rightly) been humble enough to retract his statements about how the internet wouldn’t mean anything to anyone.

The same happened when Steve Ballmer at Microsoft completely dismissed the iPhone and how it would never catch on in business.

That was less than 10 years ago.

This blog isn’t about ever being wrong. Everyone can’t be right all of the time. That’s just life. Rather, this blog is about how people can’t see trends. Or, maybe they just don’t want to.

What Does This Have To Do With Social Selling?

While it took about 20 years for the writer of that article to be proved wrong, I believe it will only take 5-7 years to disprove the myths that the Social Selling naysayers are perpetuating in the world of sales.

The things that Social Selling naysayers say may have been true a few years ago, but not anymore. Social tools, platforms, training, etc. have all evolved. Some of the best minds in the world are working on ways to make the lives of salespeople better and easier. Not more daunting and cumbersome.

I don’t know if the naysayers realize this.

I’ve seen dramatic shifts in technology in the last 2 years. I can only imagine what awaits us in another 5. All that said, I want to explore some myths that Social Selling naysayers are perpetuating.

1. Cold Calling Is More Important

What they don’t realize (or don’t want to admit) is that people are picking up the phone less. Do we still need to call? Yes, absolutely! But why leave anything to chance? You should be Social Selling and calling.

This should never, ever be about one or the other. As my friend Dale Zwizinski says, it’s best to diversify your sales portfolio. The astute sales professional will use social media, with a dash of calling, mixed with e-mail, add in some conferences and trade shows and happy hours to boot.

So while some naysayers say that you should do cold calling before Social Selling, this is far from a strategy based on fact. It’s a preference.

2. Social Selling Doesn’t Drive Pipeline and Revenue

This is simply just not true. Every data point we’ve checked and measured shows a direct correlation between applying Social Selling principles and pipeline and revenue growth.

Companies using LinkedIn Sales Navigator also have seen growth in these two key areas.

Social is just another source that should be captured and measured in your CRM. There are seamless ways to make this happen as well.

Mario Martinez, a sales leader at PGi, says the following to me:

“If you are not adapting to the modern age method of communicating with your buyers and if senior leaders and their sales teams are not incorporating Social Selling techniques, then you have sorely missed the messaging coming from your buyers on how they want to buy from you.”

In fact, PGi is starting to use social media in their sales process and are already seeing some tremendous results. What kind of results? They’ve started to attribute actual revenue to the usage of LinkedIn and have pegged that number to be just shy of $1 Million.

So ask yourself, can you afford to ignore Social Selling?

3. Buying Cycles Can’t Be Learned From Social Selling

We all know how important it is to learn about buying cycles today vs. just following a sales cycle you may have.

One of the first things to know about the buying cycle is that the majority of the buying process is now done online, even before the buyer reaches out to a sales person. In fact, 75% of B2B buyers now use social media to research vendors according to a report done by the IDC.

In fact, by not using social media in the sales process, sales professionals lose a significant advantage. Your ability to find, engage and educate someone online can impact their buying journey.

So while using Twitter may seem unusual to use in sales, smart sales professionals are using it to engage with more potential buyers, nurture deals and more!

4. Social Selling Has No Proven, Formalized and Effective Process

Social Selling is not a random set of activities. It’s a plan, a blueprint, a process, that salespeople can use daily to drive real pipeline and revenue results.

Using social media doesn’t require spending endless hours every day. When done correctly, this should take no more than 45-60 minutes/day. You just need to know what you’d like to accomplish and focus deeply on the social media tools to help you achieve this.

5. My Buyer Isn’t On Social Media

This is a frequent objection. And unlike the other myths, this one could partially be true. Depending on the industries you sell to, your buyer may not be on or active on social media.

One of the best pieces of advice I got from a VP of Sales early in my career was to surround my buyer. After trying to get a CIO on the phone for a good 4 months, he pulled me aside and said that if I can’t get to the CIO, I should focus on other people in his org chart.

Imagine trying to figure out the org chart with the telephone. But, I did it. It took me 2 more months but I was then able to get meetings with some of the CIO’s reports (his VP, Directors, etc.).

What’s the point of all of this? Through meeting these people, I was able to make them my champions. In effect, I surrounded the CIO with two people that had his trust and respect.

Now imagine doing the same thing on social media.

Imagine how effective it is to put together a picture of an org chart. I’ve seen sales professionals do this on LinkedIn within minutes. Imagine being able to see the digital footprint of every single one of these people and calling them with purpose, not blindly.

So yes, while your buyer may not be on social media, are the people that surround her/him on social? Can you work with them to demonstrate value? The answer is quite obvious.

The Bottom Line

Don’t let the fear, uncertainty and doubt of a few naysayers prevent you from knowing the obvious: that buyers are online, using social media and learning. If you want to meet them there, you’ll be better off for it.

In short, why should you be on social media? Because your buyers, supporters, advocates and competitors all are.

Are there are any other myths you’ve read about Social Selling? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @AmarSheth or connect with me on LinkedIn.


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The Ultimate Guide to Social Selling