Guest post by Amar Sheth, vice president of customer success at Sales for Life

In a recent survey that Sales For Life conducted, 43% of organizations found that their sales professionals were dabbling in social selling.  While that number is impressive and certainly much higher than even 12 months ago, this means that many organizations are being reactive to social selling instead of implementing a formal program.

Additionally, it indicates that without a formal program in place, mistakes, flaws and failures are now amplified and scaled.

Here we outline 4 classic examples that are recurring time and again.  These can be avoided with simple training and process.  Read on to see what these examples are and ask yourself if these can be mitigated on your end at the company level.

Not Doing Your Homework

While this may sound obvious to you, many of us in sales aren’t doing enough homework when reaching out to prospects.  

Check out this screenshot of a prospect message I received from someone who wants to sell me something.  This is just the introductory paragraph – the actual message was much, much longer.  If the individual had seen my LinkedIn Profile, checked out my Twitter account, seen what matters to my company, their message could have been far more customized and tailored to what matters to me.  

There are, literally, dozens of ways to find out what matters to your buyers so you can approach them with context.

Sending Cookie-Cutter Sales Templates

Not doing homework is a fatal flaw which leads me to the second point:  sending generic, cookie-cutter sales messages.  Here’s a general rule of thumb to keep in mind; if your e-mail templates don’t excite the user, why would it excite the buyer on social media?

Remember, people are on social media to learn, collaborate and network.  The way most organizations are practicing social selling today has them simply translating what they do in other mediums (like e-mail) to the social channel.

There are many ways to seed buyers with education so as to elicit conversations.  In fact, social media makes this much easier by helping to quickly qualify what matters to buyers.

It’s easy to see why 70% of sales professionals feel their job today is moderately to highly complex (CEB, 2015) given these realities.  Connecting with buyers successfully is a major hurdle that most of us have difficulty crossing.

Refusing to understand that most buyers are doing research online

Hubspot found that 42% of sales professionals list prospecting as their biggest challenge.  The reason for this is because there is a fairly considerable amount of research that buyers are doing without sales people.  While CEB estimates this number at 57% and Forrester at 70%, none of us can really know how each individual buyer behaves.  Don’t take these numbers as hard and fast for your individual prospects, but take this as a new digital trend that’s happening across the board.

Not Sharing Content

To piggyback from the previous point, most sales professionals just aren’t sharing enough content.  And of those that are, it’s minimal at best.  Here’s a quick chart of a leading global brand that is barely sharing any insights on the social platforms where they believe their buyers are.

Sales4Life1

If you believe in sharing content, it should become a part of your regular repertoire.  And it’s not just about the quantity of content, but about cadence and quality also.

Sharing content provides insights, education and conveys your expertise and working knowledge of the subject matter.

Lastly, thought leadership plays an important part in sharing content as well.  Case in point, when LinkedIn commissioned a study to find out which attributes of sales professionals matter to buyers on LinkedIn, 92% indicated that they’d prefer to work with those that are thought leaders.  These are essentially people that have created mini-brands that communicate subject matter expertise, trusted advisory, speciality and more.

In short, all of the things that sales professionals claim to possess today can be translated when we begin to share content.  It does help influence prospects drip by drip.

The Bottom Line

These mistakes don’t need to happen.  They’re small but are happening frequently enough where personal and company brands are being affected.  Like us, buyers are online, learning and being influenced. Check out this eBook: The State Of Sales And Marketing In 2016 which will give you a greater understanding of the modern buyer journey and how your team can strategize in the months to come.

So ask yourself, what can be done to curtail these failures? Tweet me your thoughts @AmarSheth or connect with me on LinkedIn to share.