Monday, 5 May 2014

Sales Matters in EdTech: Being Social

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This series of "Sales Matters" posts has come about as I wanted to participate in some of the PD inititives that are currently taking place in EdTech. Today I want to discuss an area that I am not too qualified in... but it sure is a big area with my own Professional Development which is: Being Social.

Selling Change & PD to Salespeople
But it's OK that I've not much experience here because, as Jerry Blumengarten suggests;
The sales process is changing. It's changing so much that some inbound Marketing experts predict that cold calling will be a thing of the past in 3-5 years... great news for people who don't like being interrupted with unsolicited calls; but not so good for a profession which according to Philip Delves Broughton;

"[Sales] is the single largest function in business. Millions more are employed in sales jobs in America than in manufacturing, let alone marketing, strategy, finance, or any other business function"

 What are the implications to with any changes in the sales process for any organisations and individual sales people who don't re-skill? Ask HubSpot.
Inbound: PD for Sales People

Creative Disruption
In my "Ineffective EdTech" post I highlighted that anyone can be susceptible to blind spots. Is the sales process an example of this in EdTech? We hear EdTech companies talking about how "inefficient" education is, how it's not kept up with the pace of change with technology etc... but; 

Have EdTech companies spotted any inefficiencies with their sales efforts? 

Have Sales Directors kept up with the pace of change with technology & sales? 
Companies: Get Social!
Race to the Bottom
Whether educator, student, sales person, in fact everyone everywhere needs to read Seth Godin's Linchpin and listen to his views on the economy at the moment and the future of employment. This is perhaps more important for students and sales people given how saturated the job market is, and how competitive things are likely to get. If you don't have time to read this book then here is a video where he explains why we are in a "Race to the Bottom"  

Thank Goodness for Social Media and my PLN!
I am extremely fortunate to have found the people I have to help me appreciate some of these changes. There are too many people to thank here, but I am grateful to each and every person who has spent time with me to provide the benefit of their experiences.

Whether through a book, a chance encounter, at conferences & workshops, one-off interactions on Social Media or through regular discussions with my PLN in Twitter chats... THANK YOU! (I've detailed my journey in "One Small Click for a Digital Immigrant"). 

PD in EdTech Sales is easy - Social Listening 
"Ask 100 successful salespeople the secret of their work, and 95 will say "listening." Listening is selling's golden rule. It's about what the customer whats, not what you have. Life's a Pitch

This is probably the single greatest thing I get out of joining the edchats that I join regularly (#EdTechChat, #EdTechBridge and #ukfechat). This is also the reason I collate and trawl through the Twitter data from conferences... and why #EdChatModerator is still on my radar - there are so many great ideas are confined to a fragmented EdChat archive system. 

I knew that "Inbound Marketing" was the future before #EdTechChat was established but, after following the chat in the first 6 weeks, I saw the extent to which a quiet revolution was taking place in the edchat space: 40 EdTech companies were mentioned 400 times in the chats... and the companies were not even present! 

This was a year ago and Educators selling through word of mouth is really gaining traction. I could tell you how, but I'm not going to... Everything I've learned has been from following Twitter EdChats. So, if you are in EdTech sales, go join some EdChat and lurk, listen and learn. 

What Educators Want
While Philip Delves Broughton advocates listening to customers and catering to their needs, he highlights that the very idea is something of a contradiction. 

Have your customer's interests at heart and you can sell him/her anything. But contained in this advice is one of the biggest challenges in sales: How can you realistically claim to be serving a customer's best interests when at least half your brain is calculating how to extract the most money possible for what you are providing? 

The simplest response is just to say you have a product that serves your customers best interests... but this is rarely the case. Few salesman can honestly say that what they sell is an upgrade to their customer's life, rather than a means to the salesman's own enrichment" Life's a Pitch

Now take a look at this statement and think of an organisation that is changing the landscape of EdTech? Sorry no prizes for guessing the answer, because it's obvious. Now compare EdSurge's Vice President of Sales Tweet below with the comment above;

Alice joined #EdTechBridge on Wednesday and saw on her profile that she was an author and checked out the name of the book Alice wrote, which is Social Media for Sales People. What?! The Vice President of Sales for an organisation that is universally admired by both educators and EdTech startups has written a book about the future of sales! Wonder how many EdTech companies have got copies of this for their staff? This went straight to on the top of my book list!  

Mixing with Different Tribes... Social Selling
If you check the #socialselling hashtag you will notice that Alice has written some really interesting articles and has experience in a number of industries. An well as being established author on sales, she also contributes to the SalesForce blog... which is an extremely social company. 

In the "Managing a Tech Community" #Cmgrhangout Salesforce's Community Manager, April Kyle Nassi (@thisisnotapril) discusses this. One of the reasons I enjoy #Cmgrhangout is because of the different sectors that people work in, but come together through the shared interest of building communities by being sociable... This is how I have met lots of remarkably social people... including; 

Cometh the Social Selling Hour... Cometh the Social Selling Man?
I've met so many fantastic people through #Cmgrhangout and other #Cmgr forums, but there is someone that I need to give a special social shout out to, and here's why: Go take a look at Brian Fanzo's Twitter account (@isocial_fanz) and;

1) Don't look at his Twitter profile (If possible)
2) Check out his Twitter stream
3) Try to find out what he does for a living based on his Tweets, then
4) Check out how influential he is in his communities (and he's involved with lots of them!)

 I've never seen any "sales Tweets" for any of the services that he works for. The only thing that I've seen him advocating on any social media platforms are the tools that he recommends because he likes using them.

But here's the thing... if I'm ever in the market for what his company does, I know the first company I'll be going to... And I won't need to be "sold," I'll be buying. Brian's personal touch has done all the selling through giving up his time to providing great advice and building a relationship.
I want to know more about how Brian, Rachel Miller (@rachelloumiller) and others have managed this so effectively, which is why I pay close attention to the chats that these people involved with;
  • I joined #Tchat for the first time last week, which focuses on organisational culture (Wednesdays at 7pm ET/12am GMT). 
  • Social Selling Hour (#SSHour) the inaugural chat is today at 4pm ET/9pm GMT)
I'll be attending this session to listen to the experts from various industries to get some tips about engaging and ethical sales... I wonder if many other EdTech sales and marketing people will be joining me?

1 comment:

  1. Great post William. It just goes to show how true social selling can get the job done with more value and (gasp!) less obvious "selling" techniques.