For sales reps that invest in social media, 64% hit their team quota—compared to only 49% of reps hitting their team quota that don’t use social media (Source: superoffice.com). In today’s episode, we are going to dive into the tectonic shift of social selling with Tim Hughes and explore 2 common social selling objections and mistakes.
Tim Hughes is recognized by many as the world’s leading pioneer of social selling, and he’s currently ranked number one by Analytica as the most influential social selling person in the world. He’s the co-founder and CEO of DLA ignite and co-author of the best-selling books Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers and the book Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing.
Common Social Selling Objections and Mistakes
Here are two of the most common objections people have to social selling, and how to overcome those objections.
“Our customers aren’t on social media.”
One common objection is the belief system that customers aren’t on social media. A specific 55-year-old finance director might not be on LinkedIn, but chances are most business people in the U.S. will be.
Tim is working with a company that sells supply chain software, and they told him there will be 100 people involved in the sale. Of those 100 people, there might be one person who isn’t on social media.
“We’re doing social already.”
When a company tells Tim they are doing social already, they are doing it tactically. They’re posting once every two weeks. So, 13 of those 14 days they are invisible to their client. If their client only goes on social every few days, they’re going to miss their post. If the client goes on social on a Tuesday, but the post is on Wednesdays, the client isn’t going to see it.
Tim sees social as totally transparent. He can see so many things that are going on in an organization from their page. Their page displays their organization’s culture, their purpose, and how they value themselves, their team, and their customers.
It isn’t enough to be on social anymore. Tim teaches his clients to be completely dominant, putting out their competition. Then when people search for that product or service, they are the only answer. That can be done through searching on social or searching through things like Google and Bing.
“It’s not about being on social anymore. It’s about digital dominance.”
How Tim Became an Expert on Social Selling
Starting with Stories
In 2014, Tim was involved in a big sales transformation with a US software company. He was in a meeting when one of the individuals there said, “We always close at the end of the first meeting.” Tim told them they were going to go through a complete transformation of the way they sell.
Over two years, they taught 2,000 salespeople and 2,000 presales people about storytelling and opening presentations with a story. Opening with a story makes such a difference because they’re selling something that’s boring and complex. But, starting with a story really makes us more successful.
One day, Matt Reynolds contacted Tim on LinkedIn, and they ended up meeting for coffee. By the time they finished their coffee, Tim said, “Why don’t we write a book?” Within three months, they had a book deal, and three months after that, the book came out. The book has now sold 5,500 copies.
Because of the success of that book, Tim was able to set up his own business, DLA ignites, which transforms companies using social selling. They started off building the social selling programs, which they now use, but their goal and vision were always to get businesses to use social media strategically. They strip out costs and make organizations more efficient, and he believes they are the only company in the world that does this.
There are people who do social selling, and there are lots of people who do LinkedIn training, but they don’t do social selling the way Tim’s company does. They treat it as a change program, using change management techniques as a method. What usually happens in training courses is the employees listen to the course, say it’s really interesting, go back to their desks, and then do things the same way they were doing them before. That doesn’t work with social.
“To use social to sell, it’s not what you know, it’s what you do.”
What Tim has to do with his students is invoke a mindset change and a habit change. Getting people to do the social selling is not difficult, but getting them to stop posting about their company or their products is. People are usually not passionate about companies, and they are often not passionate about products.
We generally don’t like or trust salespeople, and we avoid them. We spend time looking for things online so we don’t want to go to a salesperson because they tend to try to manipulate us. However, Tim has developed a program in which they use psychology as a way to position their clients on social so people will walk towards them and actually see them as human.
One of Tim’s partners and resellers is a great example of this. Her profile draws people’s attention and makes them want to meet her because she looks interesting. That is the transformation and difference between the way people are teaching social and the way they’re teaching LinkedIn. It’s a focus on people instead of a company or product. If we have 200 salespeople and scale that across our business, that’s 200 salespeople that people want to talk to.
Tim’s business is not a full-service marketing agency. They focus on social selling, digital selling, virtual selling, or remote selling. They don’t go into organizations and sort out sales compensation because they don’t want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none.
COVID-19’s Impact on How We Do Business
Here are a few of Tim’s thoughts on how COVID-10 has impacted the way we do business:
The Buying Process
The buying process has changed, and it started to change before COVID. When Tim was first in sales, customers had to come to him to buy something from his company. There was no website or anything like that for them to purchase from.
Now we can go online and look at brochures, videos, reviews, and demos, and we can buy whatever we want without ever speaking to a salesperson.
Five years ago, Tim was aware of somebody that made a $250,000 accountancy software purchase through watching YouTube videos. They called the salesperson and said, “I want to buy.” The salesperson said, “Don’t you want to demo?” The person responded with, “No, I just want to buy it now.”
COVID has accelerated this switch to online. For those who are in lockdown, they can’t go outside very much, so they buy most things online.
The Vaccination’s Impact
COVID is also going to affect how we do business. We have to think about things like: will a customer want to meet with a salesperson who isn’t vaccinated? Will a salesperson want to meet with a customer who’s not vaccinated? Is the vaccine going to be required for us to go on a flight or on a cruise? Or to go to an industry convention?
In the past, I never closed a big deal without a face-to-face meeting with someone. That was my philosophy, and I would always fly out for those big deals, or meet them at an event. I would invest face-to-face time into that relationship. I interviewed someone recently who took the opposite approach. She had almost no local business, lived in a small town, and almost 100% of her business was from all around the country. She never flew out and met any of her clients, and it worked just fine. She had a great business. Obviously, there is value in face-to-face, but if we leverage technology effectively, we can do it without an in-person visit.
Tim has an associate who was hired during COVID, interviewed online, and has only ever been to the office once. He was living in London but wanted to move to Barcelona because all the work was online.
This kind of thing is more possible now than ever. Why shouldn’t we live anywhere we want to? This is a huge tectonic shift. When I first started my business, video conferences and international phone calls were expensive. Now we can do those things for free, without any satellite delay.
Thank you so much Tim for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
1. The majority of our customers these days will be on social media.
2. If we think we are doing social already, we may want to examine how we are doing it to make sure we are reaching our ideal customers.
3. Don’t use the same messaging from ads, emails, or cold calls on social media. Social media messaging should be used to form organic relationships with customers.
4. Consider opening presentations with stories to engage our audiences.
5. People usually aren’t super passionate about our companies or brands, but they care about how we can help them achieve the things they are passionate about.
6. As we navigate a post-COVID world, we must consider how it will impact business and pivot to take advantage of those opportunities.
Connect with Tim
If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Tim or connect with him, you can find him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothyhughessocialselling or visit DLA Ignite’s website at https://dlaignite.com/.
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