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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

Kodak designed the first digital camera, but they were so terrified that this would cannibalise their business that they hid it in a cupboard.  Myspace didn’t seem to grasp that social media is ever evolving as it matures, more people use it etc.  Nokia actually had iPhone like phone, but when they did market research with the public, the public hated them.  Wouldn’t the screens break?  Wouldn’t the screen get finger prints on them?

If we look at other innovations, Uber, wasn’t started by a taxi company, AirBnb was not started by a hotel company, Shazam was not started by the music business. Whereas Amazon after becoming the leading book selling, set about disrupting that business model by creating the Kindle.  Amazon knew that if they didn’t create the Kindle somebody else would, killing the book selling business, Amazon had created.

Innovation and maybe survival in today’s age, rests with you, but this is not about efficiency or inside-out thinking, which is what you get from traditional management consultancy, it requires outside-in thinking.  And often thinking the unthinkable.  As leaders we have to create the culture and empowerment of our people to challenge.  So often we see a workforce that is scared to say the right thing and certainly cannot challenge.  Or there is no culture of challenge.  We so often hear the term “I’m scared …”.  So if you are scared this article is for you.  If you are a business leader, maybe your employees are scared?

I’m Scared To Explain to my Management About Social

We often have conversations with people where they say to us, “we would love to do social, we see the old ways of marketing, cold calling, email, PPC etc reducing and we have to have something to take its place.  But management would never agree to it”.

We see this all the time, it’s a sad indictment of the way business is run.  As a social transformation company we actually have a program that helps C-Level people understand the strategic imperative and business case of social.  As all of us here at DLA www.social-experts.net are have worked in a corporate environment we understand and are comfortable working at C-Level.  The key to success of any program is that the senior people are engaged and also lead from the front.

I’m Scared That Our Sales Leaders Don’t Understand Social

Often we see in a business organisations implement a social program but “pussy foot” around because they are scared that they might annoy somebody or disrupt the status quo.  How many articles have you read where people say that today we need fresh thinking. We ran one workshop where previously a “dancing around handbags” social selling program had been implemented that had generated pretty much nothing in 18 months.  The feedback from the sales leadership at the end of our session was “why didn’t we do this 18 months ago?”  Because we didn’t think you would agree to it the Sales Enablement team said.

I’m Scared I Might Post the Wrong Thing

So often social selling is seen as a tactical program.  “Let’s give everybody a tool!” or “Let’s get everybody on a webinar!” or “Let’s do some training”.  Social is a change of mindset and a tool, a webinar and some training won’t change anything.  At my previous company, social was taught by webinar.  The people that were interested watch the webinar, probably about 20% of the people.  While the majority, 80%, had the webinar on, but did email, read the newspaper, ate their lunch.  So many times after the webinar people would come up to me and ask questions, because they were too scared to raise them during the webinar.

There is difference between sales coaching and sales training, after all “Common knowledge is not common practice”.  Training gets us common knowledge, the leaders job is to get us to common practice. CEB has research that shows that training will give you a bump but training with coaching will give you a 4 x yield.  We see so much social selling training, which is based on cramming the students with facts. In his book “Brain Rules”, John Medina points out that the memory is really bad at memorising facts, it is most efficient when it memories experiences.  The concert you went to, you might not remember the set list, but you remember the pyrotechnics were amazing.

So What?

Accenture came out with some research last week that since 2000 41% of the S&P 500 have been acquired or gone out of business, but worse than that the predict that 50% of the current S&P 500 are predicted to meet the same fate within the next 10 years.

As a Leader

As a leader you must create a culture where people are not scared to approach you. Ask questions; “what could we do to help us meet the threat of digital disruption?”, ‘How can we sell better?” etc. You must provide the leadership, environment and culture that you are approachable and expect new ideas.  Scary I know but it could be a matter of life or death for your company.  Spare a thought for your workforce that know change is required but are too scared to approach or choose the best solution.

As an Individual Contributor (IC)

As an IC this does not mean you cannot show leadership.  If you know that something is right for the business you need to stand up and say it, or to be honest, maybe you need to work somewhere else.

We write in a blog about a venture capital (VC) company that fires the whole of the marketing department whenever they buy a company.  Their view is that if a company has not embraced digital marketing today, they never will so fire the lot and get a new team in.

In 1964, Bob Dylan sung “Times are a Changin’” never more so than they are today!

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