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by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia

I don’t know if you’ve read Our Man Havana, but it’s one of my favourite books. It tells the story of a vacuum cleaner salesman trying to make ends-meet. He lives in Cuba around the same time as the Cuban missile crisis. At that time all of the intelligence services are trying to find informants to give them the edge of their foreign counterparts.

So James Wormold, our man, decides that he will sketch parts of his vacuum cleaners and sell them to Mi6 who believe they are snippets of amazing military inventions being developed by the Cubans/Russians. He is recruited by Mi6 and as the plot unfolds Wormold gets in to more and more trouble as he realises that he needs to keep-up the pretence of being a spy in order to keep getting paid.

Which brings me, rather obliquely, to social selling. In our travels we see dozens of companies that have tried to implement social selling amongst their salesforce but they haven’t been able to. Why? Because the people they have engaged to do it have, like Wormold and his sketches, stumbled upon a way of making money in social selling but, don’t really understand what it means. They, themselves are not practitioners, they have little in the way of the behaviours that they are supposedly teaching. They transfer knowledge to their “students” in the hope that the students will apply what they’ve learned…but they won’t, because as is usually the case, the end of the training heralds “back to work” rather than the dawning of a new age.

The key points that we have discovered by working with organisations are:

  • you will NOT update your profiles after the training. You have been on LinkedIn (or whatever other network) for a decade and you haven’t completed your profile so why should I assume that you will complete it after today’s training.
  • you don’t have the confidence. Writing compelling content about yourself is VERY hard to do because you’ve probably not done it before. It’s unlikely that you have the fundamental belief that you can say something about yourself (that’s who you are as opposed to what you do) that people might want to hear.
  • changing your behaviour won’t happen after a 1, 2 or 3 day event no matter how much I want it to or you promise it will. Nothing will be different when you get back to your desk.
  • people slip back in to old habits. Great you’ve written blog. It was great and people started to take notice. But will you write one next week, and the week after, and the week after…

Why are all of these things true? Because we regularly have the following exchange with clients:

  • Client: You’re not showing us anything that we don’t already know.
  • DLA: You’re not already doing ANYTHING that we’re showing you
  • Client: {silence} [blushes]

Being a good social seller is not rocket science. It doesn’t require you to develop loads of new skills. It does require discipline and perseverance and tenacity.

We at Digital Leadership Associates provide the processes, the governance and the inspiration that maximises the chance of you and your team to actually DO what you know you need to do.

People who read this post also read these:

6 Lessons I learnt leading a Social Selling programme

How to Roll Social Selling Across an Organisation – How to make it Stick!

Why you might choose the wrong company to develop your social selling programme…


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