Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of Bruce Boyers’ interview with sales consultant and sales recruiting expert Jim Keenan. From our Titans of Sales Interview Series.
Part 2: Social Selling and Persuasive Techniques
Can you do all the discovery that you need to do in a cold call?
Very good question—you can’t. The cold call is not designed to sell. There’s a quick video I did that’s on YouTube or you can find it on my site. It’s called The Real Sales Cycle. How do I define a sales cycle? A sales cycle is a series of mini sales. All the rules apply to the mini sale just like they do to the big sale, and many ways they apply even more.
The purpose of a cold call isn’t to sell them on your product—the purpose of a cold call is to sell them on giving up ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, sixty minutes of their time. That’s the sale. I am not focused at all on the end goal. Rather than money for my product, it’s time for information. How do I convince this person that the information I have is worth their valuable time?
Because I don’t know enough about them, in this one instance I try to leverage intrigue. I have to provide them something intriguing, create a knowledge gap. There’s actually some science behind it—it breaks a pattern. There’s a part of our mind that basically filters everything and says, “Okay, I get I get I get I get, I’m just blocking it out so I can just move through my life. Because if I didn’t, if I had all these things coming in I would never be able to get anything done.” But when something breaks that pattern, then it’s, “Whoa wait, that was surprising, what was that?” As salespeople, If we provide information that does that, they’ll pick up their head and pay attention.
There’s three ways to do it. The knowledge gap is the one I like the best. I go out and try to find knowledge or information that I don’t think they have, and send it in an email or put that over a cold call. For example, if I were calling for A Sales Guy Recruiting I could say, “I’m sure that you’re aware that ‘A’ players outperform all other players by 67 percent, and that’s including the cost of hiring. I’d love to talk about how we find ‘A’ players differently fro everybody else.” I would hope he didn’t know that number and that it would surprise him, catch him off guard. He wants to know more about that and why we do it differently.
Another one is through surprise itself, just doing something that they didn’t expect to see. And the last one is creating mystery. If you can do any one of those three things they pick up their head and they say, “What’s going on?” And they have the incurable desire to get the answer to the question.
Are salespeople learning to embrace social selling, or do we still have a ways to go?
We have a huge way to go. They’re not learning at all. Most salespeople see selling as a direct operation. In other words it’s like a mousetrap—if I press this button, that mouse better be caught. Social selling is the circuitous route: If I do this and it creates this and then that happens and then this happens and it’s an elaborate mousetrap. Many salespeople just aren’t going to take the time. It’s like, “Why should I waste my time here? It’s not going to help me this month.” The old sales culture of “What have you done for me lately?” is just so ingrained, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The salespeople who still operate from that aren’t picking up social media.
Salespeople who think that way will probably make it for a while, although they’ll never be the top guys anymore. But in some cases the companies are doing it for them. Think about the rise of insight sales—you’ve got marketing doing all kinds of things and you’ve got inside sales creating all kinds of stuff and you’ve got content marketing going on; so some of these guys are going to be subsidized; they’re going to be carried. It would obviously be better for them if they took this on themselves.
Can you give a couple of examples of outstanding social selling successes that you’ve encountered or been part of?
My entire existence is from social selling, that’s for damn sure—starting from a blog and then moving to Twitter and Facebook. I’m now a Forbes contributor because of social media. I was just talking to a guy a short time ago who found me through a recommendation through somebody I’ve never even met who followed me on social media.
I should qualify this by saying that when people want examples, a lot of times what they want is those really nice tight-wrapped powerful stories. There aren’t many of those because generally speaking social media takes time; you have to participate for a while, you have to build a brand, you have to build relationships, definitely engage with other people. And that takes time.
With that said, this is a story I use a lot. There was a lady, a CEO of a medium-sized business, who Tweeted, “Any suggestions on how to deal with a really pushy sales rep?” The competition of the company with the pushy sales rep called her within five minutes of seeing that Tweet, and set up a meeting with her to talk about business. Afterward she Tweeted about the experience.
Obviously, social selling can be used in prospecting. But talk about how it’s essential in the remainder of the sales process, too.
I think it’s really good for the management of the sale. So let’s say you’ve now prospected, you’ve started the sales cycle, and you’ve learned about the other people on the decision committee. Now you can go out to LinkedIn and follow them—find out what they’re doing, connect with them, find out what their interests are, see where they’ve been. It’s really good for pulling in information. You can also see who they’re connected to, so if all of a sudden you realize John or Bruce on the decision committee is actually two removed from your best friend from college or your best client or your old boss; that’s going to help big time.
Another example could be if you’re following the company as a whole. Somebody out of the IT department Tweets, “I can’t stand XYZ!” or “If we have one more problem with our API…” and whatever you’re selling affects that. You can come back and say, “You haven’t been real honest. You’re having a hard time here—look what I just saw.” So social selling brings you the ability to capture more information about what’s going on inside the organization that you might be able to leverage in the sale.
Any final thought about social selling?
I liken social media to being a fly on the wall. You are now potentially a fly on the wall in your prospect’s business.
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