Have you had enough of the tug-of-war between "traditional selling" and "social selling?" Of course you are because, when it comes down to it, there's only good selling or bad selling.
In today's economy there is no room for dogma in sales, it just distracts from the objective. Salespeople should figure out how they can benefit from the best of all practical sales approaches. I use both social and traditional approaches, and succeeded in engaging and winning business by combining both rather than ignoring one over the other. In the end, both camps are focused on the wrong end of the opportunity, leaving many untapped potential opportunities.
Ask the social sellers and they'll tell you that you need to change your sales approach, despite the fact that there doesn't seem to be a massive army of B2B social buyers out there. At the same time, traditional sellers have yet to figure out the traditional buyer. (If they had, there'd be a lot less advice floating around).
Once you get past the noise, you'll find that both methods stuck in what I call Supply Side of selling. They gear their selling activities fulfilling supply, with the assumption that there's inherent demand. This is why you salespeople talking about need and pain, and why you see so many of them running around the country side for problems (because they have the solution). Where there's pain and need there's usually a recognized problem and therefore demand for their offering.
But what about that large segment of the market where there is no demand?
Most agree that a very small part of your market is actively "in the market" at any given time. The real problem with waiting for buyers is that, according to sales expert Chet Holmes, only "three per cent of potential buyers at any given time are buying now."
If only three per cent of your target market are active buyers, let's add a few on the fringe; those not actively looking, but who may realize that they have a need, leaving a major portion of your target market without much demand. This is why one of the most common objections sellers face is "we're good" or "not interested."
This is why continuously successful salespeople work on Demand Side Selling. They excel at creating demand – a crucial skill in most sales, but especially in those sectors moving more and more managed services.
Let's take an example of a salesperson selling IT related products, one with a background of selling equipment, and related applications. This rep usually sell to the people in the IT department of their customer, who are for the most part implementers. Now their employers are asking them to sell services, managed services, to take advantage of the potential offered by a monthly recurring revenue model; steady, predictable, and locked in streams of revenue. This is more a business sale, one that needs to be sold outside of their traditional IT buyers. The sales rep must now engage with parts of the customer organization that actually can create the demand for the applications the IT department implements, meaning the business side of the organization. These are people who directly benefit from the "implementation". The IT team may select and implement, choose the equipment, the integrators, but only in response to demand initiated by the business side, for example finance. The people who most directly benefit from the output of the application can create demand that causes the IT department to buy and implement.
This is not to say that users and implementers are not important – they are – but they do not create the demand. They respond to it.
To create demand you first need to speak a new language. If not, then you will be escorted back to those who sound like you. More importantly, you will need to focus the discussion on how you can help them achieve their specific business objectives; less in terms of how and more in terms of outcomes. Consider how have you positively impacted and delivered measurable results for people in similar situations, and the outcomes and impact. Without that, there is no new demand.
Rather than waste time figuring out if you should social sell, or traditional sell, take time to learn how to create demand for the sale.