Gary Vaynerchuk is a social media expert, wine aficionado and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Since the release of his first book – on wine – in 2008, Gary has published two more books (‘Crush It!: Why NOW is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion’ and ‘The Thank You Economy’) with a third, ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy World,’ due to be released later this fall. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Gary on a wide variety of subjects, including how the sales landscape has changed, the importance of social media and his advice for sales reps.
Q: What does the future look like for salespeople?
The world has changed for sales and it will never be the same again. There is also a lot more information today about you and your product that your customers can learn without ever talking to your salespeople. This is totally different than it was five or ten years ago.
This means that salespeople have to change. They must learn to bring a lot more value to customers to earn the right to have a conversation. Customers who are making critical decisions are much more informed than ever before, which means that just being a good salesman is probably not enough and is less valuable than ever before. Smart customers know more about you and your competitors and they are aware of your flaws and that knowledge is changing the landscape.
Q: What should sales reps do in 2013?
Salespeople in general need to reverse engineer whatever they are trying to achieve. They were trained differently for what worked in the past. But, as I said, the future is different. There is now far more information on people with so many people sharing all this information about themselves socially and salespeople should be using this information to their advantage. If you know someone who likes golfing or red wine or movies because you are following them [ on a social media network], you should use this information as a connection point.
Q: Does social selling work?
Well, does knowing more about your target buyer help you connect with them. Of course! Knowing more about your customers helps you build relationships and sell to them. I love selling and I find it very surprising that so few people use social media to sell. But you must use social media to sell only if you do it authentically, in a positive and truthful way, and only then will you succeed.
There’s a reason that old car dealership sales guy jokes exist. I learned through social media that good salespeople sell value and social media becomes the best place to find this value because of its transparency.
Q: Do you use sales metrics and do you analyze your business’ sales and marketing efforts?
Yes, I like metrics for sales and for marketing. We track the key metrics. I also think it’s important to have emotional intelligence (EQ) combined with your data to gain the biggest results.
I never put myself in a position to let the numbers dictate things too much in the short term because I care a lot more about the long term. I have the patience to get the win in the long-term and that is all about people. I’m very people-driven and I care about forming deeper relationships – data has always shown that the ROI is always in the long-term relationships.
Q: What is the best advice you can give salespeople today?
Selling in the past has meant that salespeople should be acting like pitchers. But the future of selling involves being a catcher. In my upcoming book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,” I will reveal how to establish a relationship first, bring value and then go in for the close. Most people treat social media as if you are trying to get married after a first date. That’s what most salespeople struggle with: patience. Patience is key for selling with social media.
And you have to start by telling a story to make people care.
For example, take some of your content and make it more accessible and relevant to people. Then, go on Twitter and search for keywords related to your business. Respond to the conversations that you find and to what’s being said about those keywords instead of starting a new and unsolicited conversation. Be helpful and responsive and bring value first and foremost. Otherwise, you’ll have a far smaller chance of winning.
Q: How do you convince sales managers to let sales reps be active on social media?
CEOs need to be convinced first and they don’t necessarily have the time to be patient, but patience on social media is critical. Sales managers are getting pressure from above – they might understand the importance of patience and social selling but they might not have the luxury to do so unless they ‘sell’ the CEO on its value.
More about Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk is a 36 year old New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling author who is also a self-trained wine and social media expert. Gary does not claim to be a ‘techie’, but in 2005, he began video blogging and is known as a true social media trailblazer! He has close to 1 million followers on Twitter and was included in BusinessWeek’s list of the top 20 people every entrepreneur should follow. Gary has appeared on countless programs from Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Ellen to MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and NPR. He was also notably featured in Decanter Magazine’s 2009 Power List which is a list of the 50 most influential people in wine and named Innovator of the Year at Wine Enthusiast’s 2009 Wine Star Awards. Additionally, Gary was one of Askmen.com’s 49 Most Influential Men of 2009.