Is social media killing our sales skills?

Recently I spoke to an organization that spent a huge amount of time, energy and money on social media to create lead generation. My question to them was, “Now what?” They said, “What do you mean?” I said, “So you have a bunch of people calling or contacting you via web form, email, etc. How’s your closing ratio?” They looked at me like I had three heads.

The issue is simple. Just because we believe we’ve found a new way to generate business, it doesn’t do this by itself. Lead generation is interest; getting people to the door. Are they coming over the threshold and are you closing the door behind them? That’s a very important step. One without the other results in zero revenue.

Between our activities on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook; Google and Bing ads – along with blogs and other things we do to build leads – we have to ask ourselves if they’re really delivering results. If we’re doing all the things we need to do in social media, what is it bringing us? It should be bringing leads. It should bring us emails with contact information, and phone calls. If this is happening, you have reached step one. This is very important, but it is ONLY step one.

The million-dollar question is “Now what?”

It’s important to make sure we know that once people contact us, or when we contact them back, we are using the right process to follow up. Are we setting ground rules at the beginning of the conversation? Are we asking thought provoking, open-ended questions to engage them and truly understand their needs? Do we have a true picture of all of this before we have the cost conversation? Do you clearly understand the next step and what that means, as opposed to just “checking back” or following up with them?

It’s important to understand that when someone contacts you, they are often contacting several people within your industry. You don’t have a relationship built, there were just some low levels of interest that triggered them to contact you. Is it better than you calling out cold? Certainly, but you still need the same attention to process as always. The call is only the beginning.

When we get them on the phone, they typically ask what I call a “Wall Question” that sounds something like this: “Hey, I see you guys sell widgets. Can you tell me if I bought a hundred widgets what that would cost?” We say, “Sure, let me look. What kind of widgets are you looking for?” “We’re looking for widget A or widget B.” “Okay, widget A would be $75,000 for a hundred and widget B would be $82,000. “Oh, that’s a lot of money. “Well, maybe I can do a little better.” You negotiate a price and they say “Okay sounds good, we’ll call you back.” Or, “Sounds good, can you send me a proposal / price sheet / more information?”

We get their email, we send that information in writing and we never hear from them again. We try to contact them, they don’t contact us.

Sound familiar? Of course, it does. The same situation happened before when you did your prospecting more proactively. Prospecting hasn’t changed. Sales and the sales process haven’t changed just because they’re contacting you. In fact, it is more difficult now because when they contact us, we incorrectly feel it is a “hot” lead.

Not only do you need to do a good job with the sales process to close sales, you need to do a better job than ever because prospects have control. They’re calling you, but they’re also calling your competitor. They’ve done some homework, they know who’s out there and about costs. That’s where the sale process comes in. If you don’t have a process, you’re going to fail, whether or not they’re lead generating through social media.?

Greta Schulz is President of SchulzBusiness, a sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of “To Sell IS Not To Sell” and works with fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips go to www.schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com.

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