Hiring Salespeople who Understand Social Selling
By: David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Sales & Service (Wiley, 2014)
The old model of a successful salesperson was somebody who was very diligent at dialing for dollars. That person had to be tenacious and able to tolerate many people saying “no” (some with rudeness).
“Our best people get on the phones and build trust as step one,” says HubSpot’s Mark Roberge, who has hired hundreds of salespeople.
So when hiring salespeople, what do you look for in order to differentiate those who act like good doctors?
“A couple of decades ago, it was someone who was just smart enough to be able to memorize the 10-page sales playbook and display the aggressiveness of a varsity football captain. This was someone who could get pummeled to the ground 10 times but never failed to get up, and worked tirelessly to make it happen,” Roberge says.
“We’ve moved away from that. I’ve had management consultants come onboard as salespeople. I’ve had
MBAs come onboard. I’ve had engineers come onboard. They have a higher degree of business acumen. They have a quicker learning curve. They have a higher level of intelligence. And they can come near the status of a consultant or advisor with the buyers that they are speaking to.”
Social Media Meets Sales
The other significant attributes of a successful salesperson are social media skills and an existing network of contacts.
Greg Alexander from Sales Benchmark Index says a person’s network of online contacts is a new set of competencies that should be considered during the hiring process. He calls this someone’s social personal branding: the ability to create and perpetuate a digital brand that portrays expertise.
“If you are a salesperson trying to open up a new account, expect the decision maker at that potential new client to Google you before the initial appointment.
What’s your online brand? Previously you didn’t have to care about that. Why? The way you made a first impression years ago was you wore a blue suit, white shirt, and red tie; you shined your shoes, brushed your teeth, and combed your hair, and you had a shave. You had a firm handshake, and you looked somebody in their eyes, and this made your first impression. That first impression today now happens online.”
Creating a First Impression Online
Because of that new competency, Roberge and Alexander advocate that organizations clearly define that making a great first impression online should be a requirement when hiring salespeople. What social personal
branding attributes should you research before considering someone for a position?
Depending on the type of company, you should consider LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers, content creation via social platforms like blogs and YouTube, and more. If you run an existing sales team, you might benchmark a prospective new employee’s social personal brand against the salespeople who have achieved the greatest success through social selling.
Alexander says social personal branding is so critical today because of the nature of sales referrals. Because of this, it is essential to hire people with the largest potential referral networks already in place.
“I might say, ‘Hey, Joe, I noticed in your network that you know Mike Smith, who works at this company. We do work for companies like that. Mike might be experiencing these problems. We have expertise in these areas, and we would like to meet him. Would you be kind enough to provide an introduction?’ That’s social referral generation. That’s a whole new set of skills required by salespeople. The organizations that are doing that well are producing phenomenal sales results.”
As critical new skills become important in the new social selling model, you need to ensure you’re hiring the right people.
Over time, you might need to consider if your existing people are right for the new realities. Are they able to adapt? What about the team that manages the salespeople? Are your sales leaders the right people to carry your company forward?
David Meerman Scott is an internationally acclaimed marketing and sales strategist whose books and blog are must-reads for professionals seeking to generate attention in ways that grow their business. He is the author or co-author of ten books, three of which are international bestsellers. The New Rules of Marketing & PR, now in its fourth edition, has been translated into 26 languages.