Technology adoption tends to follow a pattern. Years ago, I was fortunate to see Geoffrey Moore speak in Silicon Valley on his concept (and 1991 book) entitled Crossing the Chasm.
Moore’s insight was that in the adoption cycle of any new technology, there comes a time when there is a significant lag between the early adopters and the early majority. This is the chasm. The cool kids have embraced the tech. Mom and Dad have not.
Analyst firm Gartner was undoubtedly influenced by Moore’s work when they created the Hype Cycle curve, with which you may be acquainted.
While there are those who challenge some of the Hype Curve particulars, there seems to be little doubt that many techologies follow the pattern of high expectations, some kind of lull in adoption rates, and eventual acceptance by the majority.
Take cell phones as an example. Despite its massive popularity upon release, the iPhone experienced its own Trough of Disillusionment, or Chasm, in its first year, going from 270,000 phones sold in its first quarter, to a peak of 2.3 million in its third before bottoming out at 720,000 in its fifth. Ten years later, Apple has crossed the chasm/trough for good, with 78 million iPhones sold in Q1 2017.
But what does this have to do with social selling?
Plenty. Recently, we’re seeing lots of naysayers out there harshing on social selling’s vibe. There have been significant detractors for the last two years. In fact social selling company Sales for Life even spoofed the haters in an April 1, 2014 post.
But the haters have it wrong. Social selling isn’t a fashion. It’s not a fad. It’s not going away, because the way B2B buyers buy has changed. Forever.
Just the fact that buyers now have a wealth of information about your product and your competitors changes the game. Add in the fact that most buyers don’t like receiving cold calls, and you can see that, if social selling isn’t the answer, something very similar to its approach will be.
Social selling is maturing and now faces tons of skepticism. Frankly, lots of the skepticism is coming from people with an ax to grind: sellers of non-social sales systems and training; technophobes who are threatened by the idea they might have to learn how to sell online; and just the normal folks who insist that their tactics have worked forever and will continue to.
All these people might be right. Social selling hasn’t made it out of the chasm/trough yet. But just check out the results: According to LinkedIn, social sellers are 51% more likely to hit quota and get 45% more opportunities than traditional salespeople.
Is Social Selling a Technology?
Actually, no. Social sellers use technology to do a relationship sell. This ancient sales technique is supercharged by all the new ways of finding out about your prospect, and for them to find out about you.
Beyond that, social selling adds another dimension to the relationship sell: personal branding. When your prospects find out that you know a terrific amount about their problem space, and that you are recognized as the go-to person in your category, and are known as a solver not a pusher, your credibility skyrockets.
Social selling sales reps need technology. They need to jump the chasm/trough. They need training. But most importantly, they need tools to simplify their use of social selling techniques and technology.
That’s what we’re building in our social selling mobile app, SalesMVP™. We’re just starting the development effort, but if you want to track our progress, follow us at NextPhaseSelling.com
So what do you think? Is social selling just the flavor of the day, and past its freshness date? Or is it just the start of a revolution in the way salespeople sell?