Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So Sales And Social Media DO Have Something In Common...

I started several years ago when I was “still a banker” teaching a class on sales for the Perry School of Banking at Central Michigan University for the Michigan Bankers Association. When I started, I actually had a partner teaching the class with me… my wife, who at the time was the state sales manager for one of the largest title agencies in the state of Michigan. She has been in sales for 25+ years (yes, she started when she was 12) and I must say I’ve learned a lot from her, not only as a banker, but now that I’m running my own consulting practices sales is a vital part of my everyday life.

Taking the “marital dynamics” out of the equation for a bit (although that was a big hit with the students), we introduced the concept of a sales process that can be implemented at any bank (or organization, for that matter) that broke it down into three main elements. These are setting your Goals and Objectives, identifying the Players that are part of the process and finally the Tools that you will use to implement the plan.

I may go into each of these three areas in more detail in future posts, but for now I want to share an observation that I made after listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel of Twist Image. In this episode (which kept me company while mowing the lawn), Mitch talked with Jeffrey Gitomer, probably one of the best sales trainers/authors today. My wife (as do I) has all of his “Little (Red, Black, Green, Yellow…) Book of (Sales, Connections, Getting Your Way, YES!...)” books. In fact, these are all on the reference list that I gave out at class last week to the students at Perry.

The interesting part in this was when the discussion turned to how sales and social media are really more closely aligned than what people think… well at least the “right” type of sales. In that, I mean sales based on the foundation of relationships, value and building win-win outcomes. All too often sales is given a bad wrap by those trying to do it wrong and “forcing” the sale. It’s for this reason that my class is called “Sales: It’s Not A Four Letter Word”.

What I’ve always said about social networking (done right) is that it takes people down the “Know Me, Like Me, Trust Me” path. Once people get to know who you are, the can determine if they like what you stand for, what you know, etc… Only after this process has been accomplished do people get to the point where they trust one another (and that’s typically when business gets done – and that’s when the money is made).

While in the “traditional” sales process (ie. before social media) that had to be done face to face, through written communication like newsletters or whitepapers to establish and share what you know as an expert and how you can help. Now, however, with social media providing anyone the ability to become a publisher of information instantly (and for free), the smart ones are leveraging this to get their brand out there so others can get to Know them, Like them and hopefully Trust them with their business.

I encourage you to stop by SPOS and check out the interview with Gitomer. He's in his early 60s (solid “Boomer”) and freely admits that he resisted sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for a long time. But, now that he’s embraced what can be done (and how to use them the right way), you’ll hear how he now feels these portals are critical to his success now and in the future. Good stuff for sure!

So, what do you think? Is sales still a four-letter word in your organization or are you getting more comfortable with the process? Chances are you could be doing a better job (like us all) and social media may be just the ticket to getting you to the next level. Who Knows, Likes and Trusts YOU?
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