Social tools are making sales people less social

Several years ago I joined an internet company as a sales rep, and in about 3 months, I became the top salesperson.  At the national sales meeting, one of the other reps came up to me and asked how I was having so much success.  I responded, “I’m honestly not that sure that I’m ding anything revolutionary.   It just seems that these people are happy to take my call and after explaining the product and how it solves their problems, they are willing to buy.”  He stared at me blankly for about a minute and then said, “…You call them?”

I’m very much in favor of the trend to social tools.  Social tools has given tremendous power to sales people.  LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, etc.  are all great ways to research, network and get yourself into a company in ways that were not possible 20 years ago.   However, there is this trend in younger generation people on the over-reliance on these tools to get the job done.    Its true that many younger people will meet their spouses on-line, and will keep in touch with people on-line, and will continue to interact on-line, but deals get done when people talk to people.

The best salespeople that I have dealt with aren’t afraid to pick up the phone and talk to people – and are especially not afraid to get in front of people.  When I started in sales, trying to get a sale over email was frowned upon, yet today I meet salespeople who don’t leave email / twitter / facebook to try and get 90% of the way to a sale.  Its this over-reliance on the tools that holds them back.

I see start-up after start-up thinking that the magic of “being viral” and the social glue will propel them in sales.  These Sales people and start-up founders think that somehow the magic of the social internet will make their company profitable.  But far fewer companies succeed in this way.  Sales people need to reach out and connect to get the product sold – and cannot be afraid to do so.   The more successful the salesperson, the more likely that person is out talking to people.

In order to crush sales, you need to be a social being.  And that does NOT mean that you have 600 friends on Facebook, 10,000 followers on twitter, and 800 connections on LinkedIn.  It means that you are actually connecting with people one on one.  That device in your hand is a phone – and it has voice capabilities – so use them.  Its very likely that you will see your sales explode.