Yeah, just in case you didn't get that, I'll lay it out for you.
In a recent mining of Objective Management Group's data from June of 2013, there was a huge increase in the number of salespeople using social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Spoke, Plaxo and Reachable for selling. The graph looked like this:
I was impressed with this development...but...there is a huge problem with this. For all the attention that these sites get, for all the salespeople who now spend their evenings perfecting their profile, adding people to their networks and asking for introductions, what hasn't changed for the better are these key metrics:
- Calls-to-contact ratio is now over 10:1 - worse than ever before.
- Contact-to-meeting ratio is worse, not better.
- Sales cycle length is longer, not shorter.
- Closing percentages are lower, not higher.
Weren't the social sites supposed to help with those metrics?
Not really. These sites help salespeople connect - in the slightest of ways. Do you even know half of the people in your network?
Your network is like your neighborhood. You know that they are there, you recognize them as they go by, in their cars, on their bikes or while walking their dogs. But, you are only friendly with a small percentage of them. How likely is it that salespeople could improve their effectiveness because of their neighborhood? Well, the same is true of their networks. And the online networks don't work any better than the real networks that they belong to in their home towns. You know the ones I'm talking about. The chamber, the business networking groups, the peer groups, the resource groups, etc. In theory, they're all great, but in reality, how often do they produce measurable business from people who aren't your friends?
Networks provide the framework to connect, but nothing happens automatically. Salespeople must still be effective enough, when reaching out, to convert that connection to a call, meeting, opportunity and sale. And sadly, we just aren't seeing any improvement in the selling capabilities of the global sales population. It's almost exactly the same as it was 10 years ago!
It's time that we stop expecting sales to increase as a result of CRM, social selling tools and email. They are great tools, but none of them replace actual selling, and even worse, all of them serve as distractions, false safety nets and busy work that must be completed before salespeople are caught up and can get on the phone.