There is a lot of content out there about how "sales is changing, sales is changing" often with the passion and vigour that we imagine Chicken Little had when he exclaimed "the sky is falling, the sky is falling". We disagree, “Sales” is NOT changing.
The job that effective and successful sales professionals have today is the same. Successful sales professional have always focused on providing value and have:
always become trusted experts to their prospects and customers guiding them to the right solution for their needs (even if it wasn't a solution they could provide).
provided intelligence and insight that isn't easily found on their company website or via web search.
taken the time to scour news papers, newsletters, and industry vertical publications for information and insight on prospects, customers, and their businesses.
eagerly shared, without expectation of getting something back the insight they have garnered.
Successful sales people know it's all about the relationship, and they know it is hard work.
But the how, when, and where sales professionals develop those relationships is changing. For these professionals, social selling is not some scary new way of selling, it's what they've always done but with new tools. And the new tools may actually make their job a little easier.
Unfortunately for average, and under-performing, sales people who: depend on sharing brochures; case studies and product demo's to do the work for them; recite feature-based information about their product; fail to listen; are not subject matter experts; and who follow-up on leads with a "set-it and forget-it" mentality...well then, yes for them, “sales” is changing.
And it's getting harder. For them, thanks to changing buyer behaviour, not only are the tools changing, but the rules and stiff processes are too.
Social selling is NOT new, it's just the new term for relationship development.
Thanks to web-based tools, and social media, sales people can now easily share (electronically via LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Blogs, or email) articles, insight, and information that is pertinent to their prospects or customers (1-to-1 or 1-to-many).
Social selling helps to start relationships and lessens the need for—even warms up—cold calls. Tools like LinkedIn (InMail, connection requests, groups conversations, customer-centric profiles), Twitter and Google+ (following, and engaging with, prospects and customers), Google Alerts (which have been around for years), and other existing and in-beta technology makes it much more efficient for sales people to gather information, develop insights, and share.
And with the use of technology that has been around for a long time, like CRM, they can easily keep track what interest their prospects and customers so they know what information to share with them.