As a Sales Manager in the digital age, you are at the forefront of one of the biggest disruptions to the sales industry in decades. Because the buyer journey has changed so dramatically, sales professionals now need to be able to engage and influence their audience without overtly trying to sell.
But how does a manager lead such a transformation, when they learned the traditional sales techniques that have stood them in good stead for their entire career?
Recently, Tribal spoke to Lee Welch about the shift in sales leadership behaviour that is needed to embed modern selling techniques. Lee gave us his top considerations for managing a modern, digital sales team:
- Quarterly targets will drive quarterly behaviour. Short-term, quick wins.
- One-off training is not the answer. Ongoing support will embed behaviour change over time.
- There are only so many meetings, calls and emails you can fit into one day.
Tip 1: Get With The Program
As a Sales Manager, there is every chance you have cut your teeth, and earned your crust, using tried and tested sales techniques. While no-one is suggesting that these are redundant, there’s this big digital elephant in the room that, to maintain success, your team needs to start acknowledging.
It’s called Social Selling and it’s the sales industry’s response to that change in buyer behaviour that we mentioned earlier. In the manner of all good leads, if you can bag this digital ellie, your targets are going to look a whole lot easier to reach. 66% easier in fact. According to SBI, this is the increased percentage likelihood of achieving your quotas than that of teams who are still using traditional prospecting techniques.
Start by finding out where you are digitally with our social maturity quiz. This will let you know of any areas that you need to brush up on and you’ll then have a grounding to start sharing your knowledge with your team.
Tip 2: Think Big
Social Selling – also called Digital Selling – is just one element of a business being social. For true success, you need your team to embrace a social mindset. Start by identifying in-house capabilities. You’ll undoubtedly have some champions, natural social networkers, who can help you to spread the benefits and best practice of what they do.
Your organisation should be providing development programs for your whole team, regardless of their digital abilities. In fact, according to Steve Olenski on Forbes.com, a convincing 64% of the workforce see training and development as the most important workplace policy.
Talk to your program leads about some specific training related to your main digital platforms, such as LinkedIn. Demystifying things early on will help reduce any resistance to change that stems from a fear of the unknown – and that will make your life a lot easier. And don’t forget the advice from Lee at the top of this blog: training needs to be ongoing. This is a change program and we all know change doesn’t happen overnight.
Tip 3: Get Collaborative
Seeing your marketing and operations counterparts as allies in this change program will help immensely when it comes to selling it to the wider team. One of the keys to successful social selling is great content and marketing can really help here.
The sales team will have their ear to the ground and be aware of who needs what, when. Marketing will be busy generating campaigns for products and services and keeping the brand profile high. Imagine, if you will, the power behind a marketing and sales joint effort where the potential customer suddenly finds some top-class content covering exactly what he’s looking for, right at this very moment. Check out our previous blog post for more about this.
Tip 4: Take Baby Steps
As with any complex change program, a softly, softly approach is often more successful. People are inherently nervous of changing what they do – and, importantly, no-one is saying that the traditional approach doesn’t work anymore – so you need to bring them along slowly. LinkedIn has an interesting case study about how Microsoft rolled out their social selling program, starting with just 15 champions in a small but highly demonstrative pilot.
It’s key to show people how social selling can work, not just for the business at large, but also for them as individuals. Successful social sellers uncover lots of opportunities as their own profile is raised and they become an expert in their field. Increased personal development, through opportunities such as speaking at large industry events, and increased professional development, such as improved future career potential, are both proven outcomes for those who embrace digital selling.
In the above case study, Microsoft talk about how they created coaches out of those who took part in their pilot study. These people were powerful convincers who couldn’t fail to evangelise about the program after seeing the benefits first hand.
Tip 5: Review And Repeat
A potentially unexpected risk of success is over-enthusiasm. Let’s assume you’ve followed our steps and are in the midst of a wave of buy-in. Your team have become social selling superheroes who can’t get enough of this new way of working.
Great news. But, as leader, you need to keep their feet on the ground and make sure they don’t forget about the basics of the program.
Hopefully, you started with a social media policy which set clear boundaries. Make sure you regularly revisit this, ask people to remember the key points (gamification is good here, with a quiz or similar to keep people’s interest) and ensure they are sticking to them. Enthusiasm is a fantastic vibe to be working with, but you want people to be considerate and controlled when they are posting on social, and stick to the themes and messages that are agreed and supportive of the overall brand narrative.