When discussing the advent of the social business, I always hear questions like “where do we start?” and “what departments will/are most affected by social media?” The answer, to be a bit pat, to both these questions is “everywhere.”
Social is a transformative phenomenon – one that is taking businesses from yesterday’s approach to scale (one-to-many relationships and broadcast mentality) – into today’s world of scaling (or at least attempting to) personalized engagements.
So, where does sales fit into all of this? In a well-thought out article, InsideView CEO Umberto Milletti talks about sales and social in a recent Mashable post. Umberto points out an obvious “near paradox” in the sales/social development evolution: that while many sales people are “not technogeeks” – at the same time “sales has always been social.” (Side Note: I do hope and expect that Umberto will discuss these ideas in greater length during his SugarCon keynote next month.)
So, are salespeople ahead of the curve from a behavioral standpoint? Or are they behind the social media learning curve from a technology standpoint?
I don’t think there’s an answer here, at least not a simple one. For many seasoned sales executives, they probably have the “in real life” social angle of sales nailed down pat: great at cold calling, soft closing skills, relationship management understanding, etc. But many of the new generation of sales people might have some great technology chops: building great online networks, scaling their reach while “keeping it real,” and creating effective outreach strategies to generate interest.
Both of these aspects seem highly complementary – but will one win out over the other? Also, in time might we be in danger of losing old school “sales skills” due to upstart sales people relying too much on social technologies and not actually being “social” in the true sense of the word? It seems a fitting irony, but one with potentially drastic consequences.
Ultimately, people buy from people, and make purchasing decisions for emotional reasons. So, we can scale our reach, foster social channels as engagement platforms, etc. – but at the end of the day, the sales person with the best sales skills (whether they come from instinct or cool tools like SalesView) are the ones who will prevail.