Selling is hard. It were easy, anyone would be able to do it. For a sale to come together, a lot of things need to line up. When you add the complexity of multiple decision makers, higher dollars at stake and political risk/reward, making a deal happen is somewhat of a miracle. When you’re able to make multiple sales in a month, quarter or year; that is not an accident.
Sales people who continually “make their number” aren’t lucky, they’re good. There is always an element of luck in every deal, but relying on luck cannot be a strategy.
In any sales cycle that involves even a little bit of complexity, there is an ally these sales people all (consciously or subconsciously) rely on. And that is the Social Equity they create in an account.
Social Equity has a number of academic definitions. I’m defining it as the brand you build during the sales cycle. Your brand is what your prospects think about you, your product or service and your company (relative to the business problem they have at the moment) when you’re not around. This is how they overtly and casually talk about you, your product or service and your company.
In the consumer world we see it all the time. People talk about their experience at a restaurant or with a product or service. Good news and bad news travels fast across the social sphere which is why these firms look to control and direct the conversation. Every brand wants to enhance the positive conversation share, aka, its Social Equity.
Now, take that concept down to the sales rep and sales cycle level. The more Social Equity you build up in an individual account, the more comfortable they feel with you, your product or service and your company. That means they will be more willing to meet with you initially and listen to you more closely in every stage of the sales cycle.
CEB’s well-publicized study indicated that the average deal now involves 5.4 decision makers. CEB also said that this group of 5.4 people is highly dysfunctional. The main reason is that prospects go through an evaluation, but never decide how they are going to decide. Sure, they put together criteria, but what if 4 out of 5 want your solution – does that mean you win? Well, maybe and maybe not. If the one dissenting voice is the CFO, you may have a really big problem. The sales person needs to get the group all on the same page and build a consensus.
There are many sales methodologies out there to help you navigate and build consensus. Creating Social Equity is not a substitute for a good sales approach. It creates the environment that makes it easier to execute that sales methodology. When those 5.4 decision makers look at you, your product or service and your company as a trusted brand, they share more information about what is happening behind the scenes and are more apt to promote your solution even when you’re not in the room.
In subsequent blogs, we’ll further define Social Equity, talk about how to create it from the Prospecting Cycle through the Sales Cycle. Most importantly, we’ll talk about how to measure its effectiveness.