Demographics Disconnect the Social Selling Model


1602080Adages in sales have existed as long as salespeople.

  • Plan your work, work your plan
  • Inspect what you expect.
  • Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Adages like these are ingrained in the minds of most sales professionals, and many a sales manager rightly employ them as an integral aspect of their professional belief system.

Salespeople and managers alike agree that successful selling is an activity-based endeavor.  Without consistent and effective activity, sales do not follow.  Activity review remains the single best predictor of success for any salesperson, and any effective sales manager integrates some method of activity review as a part of their salesperson dashboarding.

While there is very little room for discussion about the need for activity, there is significant debate afoot about what should be considered as acceptable activity in a salespersons workday, and much of the debate has to do with social media.

Granted, the opportunity for time spent unproductively on social media sites is extraordinary, and it is difficult to differentiate between active prospecting using these tools and the umpteenth view of an angry cat video without micromanagement, but, social media has proven itself to be an effective and efficient means of acquiring information pertinent to any salespersons selling efforts.

So, what’s a sales manager to do?  This is where the demographic challenge of social media starts to reveal itself.

It’s not a stretch to assume that sales managers are generally older than the salespeople they manage.  While this age-gap is not usually considered a hindrance to the manager-employee relationship, it’s a huge issue when the manager doesn’t have a solid understanding of the correct and effective use of social as a part of their salespersons toolkit.  This is most frequently the result of a manager not personally and/or actively participating on these platforms; many managers can coach a salesperson on the finer points of the hugely ineffective cold-call, precious few are able to identify a buying prospect and craft an effective LinkedIn InMail message for their salespeople to deliver, much less determine the appropriate social listening schedule for their salesperson to follow for a target prospect.

Consequently, a quiet bullpen, often the bane of any selling organization, is commonplace more and more often, as salespeople use tools other than the telephone to achieve their activity targets.  When these results don’t equate to revenue, the knee-jerk reaction is to surmise that the quiet bullpen has been the result of a lack of activity.

Until this older segment of sales managers evolve their skill set or are ultimately replaced by younger, more social savvy leaders, sales organizations will continue to struggle with effective activity creation and management, as expecting your salespeople to be more effective by making more cold calls is merely a path that will lead to a merry-go-round of firing and hiring.