Social media increases need for great direct sellers

The ease of access to product or service information means face to face time with customers has to be even more meaningful, at a personal level. When discussing the elements of The Five Abilities™ with business leaders, it’s clear that a lot of focus is being placed on methods to create VisABILITY, CredABILITY and ViABILITY via social media. These methods are necessary if you want your information accessible to today’s business population.

However, in business to business selling, the enhanced ability to share information with your target audience through social media, accentuates the need for direct selling. Because product information is so easily studied online, the time you get with decision makers has to be more focused on the personal side of decision making. As great sales professionals know, this is the most complex part of the sales process.


Don’t mistake my comments to mean that sales people don’t need to know their products in depth. That is a given, and the uncertainty in how social media will create the visibility you want, means you always have to be ready to educate customers on your products. (See Stephanie Chandler’s Forbes blog to understand how difficult it can be to make your content visible in the ways you intend via social marketing)

That said, I’ve seen too many sales people, including myself, take the easy route in meetings, by pulling out the PowerPoint deck to deluge decision makers with features and benefits. There was a time when that was the best way for decision makers to get the necessary product information, but that time has passed. Now, more than ever, direct selling is about the decisions you’re asking people to make, not companies, and your time in front of customers has to be focused on addressing the personal reasons to choose you.

Front Line Accountability

Sales people have always had the front line accountability for understanding decision maker’s motivations better than anyone and also being the face of CredABILITY and ReliABILITY for the companies they represent. In today’s social media world, the importance of this role becomes even more important because customers have so much more information coming at them. But you can’t learn what drives each individual decision maker and they can’t decide if they trust a seller via social media. Even with the great advancements in communication technology, trust and confidence are still built through personal connection. Facebook and Twitter won’t invent an algorithm that will change that in business to business selling where people’s jobs and millions of dollars of profit and loss are at stake.

My Experience

I’ll close with an experience that will be familiar to many readers. We were on the verge of a major product launch and I was having dinner with the number two person of one of the largest companies in the world. He had to decide how much resource his company would invest in working with us, versus our competitor. My team had scheduled the meeting because they were having difficulty convincing this customer to commit to our new offering.

We were having a very pleasant discussion about industry events when the third course was served, causing a natural break in our discussion. After the server left, the senior executive leaned across the table and said “Rick, I want to discuss a very difficult decision I have to make.” I leaned forward and said “Sure.” He said, “For many years we’ve bet on your company and now I find myself unsure if I can do that anymore. Can you convince me that I should continue to bet on you?”

Honestly, my team probably remembers my verbal response better than I, because I knew my words weren’t the important message. The customer wanted to see my physical reaction. He wanted to see if I was confident that his company would be OK if he chose us. He confirmed that when I saw him months later. We got his business and it wouldn’t have happened on Facebook or Twitter.

Using The Five Abilities® methodology will help you ensure your personal connections augment your social media. We’d welcome the opportunity to share our tools with you.

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