To understand the present and the future, we often look to the past. Such is the case in this post, as we introduce deeper understandings for us about The Modern Sales Professional.
The decade-old book titled “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies” published in 2008 by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, is the first book of its kind to make meaning of the digital commercial force that the Internet had already become, and, foretold the tsunami-like impact of social technologies on all businesses, while alerting us to the accelerated rate of change that the Internet would continually have on commerce.
One book endorsement writes this:
“Groundswell is a comprehensive look at the tidal wave of change engulfing marketers. Nobody should attempt to engage the newly empowered and emboldened consumer (emphasis added) without first hearing what Li and Bernoff have to say on the subject.”
If we could take but one relevant idea from a platform of new concepts and ideas introduced by this book and put it into action to move a business forward, it was a worthy gain for the business. Such was the case with “Groundswell’s …” big idea with their endorsement of LinkedIn as a primary social media site for marketing and sales leaders to make new business connections.
While today, this might summon a yawn in the camp of big ideas, we recall that up to this point in 2008, LinkedIn existed as an online job search site and those who had registered on LinkedIn as a user typically did so for one reason – to enhance their job search and expand their job opportunities. This shift in LinkedIn’s site and purpose was seismic – check out the differences in LinkedIn’s site in three short years:
Social Selling With LinkedIn … in 2008?
To be clear, when Li and Bernoff published this book, the ink was not yet dry on LinkedIn’s new mission to be the professional profile of record, for the world. Every sales professional on our team at the time was gobsmacked at the very idea of participating on LinkedIn as a primary prospecting tool. Why? One reason was because their professional profiles had been created as an extension of their resume. Most were uncomfortable reviewing their profiles and connections with their sales manager – boss. It was like the elephant in the room – “yes, I’m making myself available for other job opportunities through LinkedIn.” For some, this was excruciatingly uncomfortable. They felt exposed and vulnerable, no matter the kind of trust environment we tried to create to introduce this new prospecting tool, a little at a time.
But, there was another reason and it would take two more years and more inputs on the topic of social selling before we could confidently get to the heart of their push-back. Read on…
In 2010, I attended the Sales 2.0 Conference, a newly formed conference for the selling profession organized by Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder & CEO, Selling Power Magazine. For our purposes here, Sales 2.0 is simply defined by use of the Internet and Social Media as primary selling tools. Below are the agenda highlights:
- Sales Management 2.0: How Smart Sales Leaders Leverage Technology
- How to Win Friends & Influence People with CRM
- The ROI of Sales & Marketing 2.0
- Social Networking Strategies the Generate Qualified Leads and Revenue
- Best Practices for Creating a Predictable Pipeline
Net.O partner, Joe Schum and I attended this conference together. Afterwards, we both left the conference feeling way behind the proverbial sales readiness eight ball, and, more than a little overwhelmed. It’s one thing to take a new concept, like LinkedIn for sales prospecting, and execute it into a sales process. It’s a different game altogether when you are confronted with the reality that you need to change your entire strategy, execution, training, and development of new skills and habits for your entire sales team.
This realization led us to reflect on why so many sales people in my previous company resisted the changes back in 2008 to use LinkedIn for social selling: While they were comfortable with and had the ability to use LinkedIn as a job site, no one felt equipped to create a profile worthy of calling attention to by the prospective buyers who would be checking them out. They had a resume profile, not a thought leader or influencer profile critical to effectively connecting with potential new customers. LinkedIn began engaging with individuals every time they fired up their profile to give them a vision of what an effective LI profile was and scoring certain areas of the page that could be improved.
Even now in 2018, we continue to see sales leaders and their teams stuck in conventional transactional, product-centric selling methods that are keeping them from performing in their roles in a way that is aligned with how buyers want to engage with sellers.
In 2017, we attended the Sales 3.O Conference. The name change occurred in 2017 as the conference rightly moved to sustain relevancy with the selling world, which was experiencing advances with the use of Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics for customer acquisition processes.
Just seven years later, the changes the conference made in the agenda, ideas and conversations are stunning:
- Training 3.0: Driving Profitable Growth in the Cognitive Era
- Accelerating Sales Growth through Data-driven Sales Management
- Stories – The Most Powerful Tool in Your Toolkit
- How Artificial Intelligence Aligns Sales with Marketing for More Revenue, Faster
- Perpetual Sales Readiness: The New World of “Always On” Learning for Sales
- AI and Selling – the Future Is Already Here
- The Future of Selling – Bleak or Bright? (Spoiler alert … bleak for cooks, bright for chefs)
- The Role of Human Connection in a Networked Digital World
- What Salespeople 3.0 Want From You
- A Crash Course in Winning Negotiation Tactics for Your Sales Team
If you read the conference agenda thinking – “wow, none of this content is aligned with anything I am doing as a Sales Leader or individual sales contributor,” you are in the majority. The reality is that most of us don’t work for companies that are organized around Sales 3.0, yet. More, we find that many organizations, even high growth companies who are scaling their business to an exit event, don’t even have Sales 2.0 practices in place.
The Sales 3.0 conference is a beacon for how fast the sales craft has and will continue to change. (Tweet this). As sales leaders, we can’t ignore the impact that technology and the Internet are having on our buyers and how they buy today. And, if we are falling behind in our effectiveness to successfully get into and win deals, what’s the first move to begin making improvements? Begin developing new skills for sales people, with vision and goals to become relevant and of value to buyers.
The Modern Sales Professional
What does it take to become this Sales Professional 3.0 that Network Orchestrators affectionately names – The Modern Sales Professional?
In the first post of this series, we introduced a super analogy – the modern sales professional is a chef. Not a cook. We love this analogy because the differences between the two vocations, what it takes to be a chef over a cook, holds striking similarities to the higher-level skills, knowledge, habits, and competencies requisite for sales professionals to engage today’s digitally empowered buyers in conversations – that connect, build emotional equity, drive preference, and build trust.
In this second post, we’re introducing The Modern Sales Professional PERSONA. Just as LinkedIn created the first professional profile of record for individuals, we have condensed our wisdom from years of experience and industry insights to create the first modern sales professional profile for the today’s committed sellers.
Also, similar to LinkedIn, we begin with the end in mind – the ideal PERSONA – which when developed, serves as a compelling predictor of an individual’s success in selling to today’s modern buyer. So, we all need a development path to become this.
You’ll discover these areas of development for sales professionals to gain these new skills, habits, and disciplines to be proficient in their role right within the PERSONA. As with all new skills development, sellers will find that with each small change they make towards competency, they will incrementally improve performance and effectiveness with buyers. To be sure, coaching and mentoring by the sales leader accelerates these development cycles.
Check it out – Download this one-page PERSONA here and discover the…