Social Selling Differences in the UK and the US: An Interview with Lee Bartlett, Part 2

Here we are again with the second part of the interview with Lee Bartlett. He is a sales leader, author and blogger on high-performance in sales, and has enjoyed a highly successful sales career working for a variety of tier 1 institutions. He has held roles in large US, UK and European-based corporations, and sold extensively across most countries in these regions, as well as in Asia. With extensive experience selling to the financial sector and C-suite executives, Lee has built multi-national sales teams, been co-founder and CEO of a tech start-up and has recently authored his first book, The No.1 Best Seller. He shares his personal sales methodology and experiences in his book and blog, both of which discuss the mindset, strategies and processes of top salespeople.

Tamara Schenk: In part 1 of our interview, we discussed some of the highlights you discovered in your recent research paper on the impact of social selling in the UK versus the US. We ended with the cultural differences for global organizations. Now, what do these differences mean for multi-national organizations? How should social selling strategies be adjusted for different regions? What should be global, what needs to be local?

Lee Bartlett: There must be an alignment of sales and marketing. This alignment is more than simply becoming better friends. There must be agreement and continuous collaboration around three areas:

– The changing customer journey

– The company mission statement and all forms of communication to the customer. This message must run through all sales and marketing communication, including content creation.

– The sales team must keep the marketing team up to date with the needs of the customers, and the marketing team must streamline the process of content creation and targeted campaigns. A consistent message must run throughout all efforts.

More than ever, selling is a team event, especially selling complex B2B platforms. Theses aspects should be adjusted by region to match the difference in buying habits as mentioned above.

TS: I couldn’t agree more, especially to your point on alignment and the need of consistent messaging along the entire customer’s journey. And that’s more than a marketing job. Often, sales force enablement teams are in a better position to orchestrate the messaging approach throughout the entire customer’s journey.

TS: You’ve written, “The days of the lazy salesperson, who rides the crest of product and market adoption with little effort, are over.”

Comparing high-performers five years ago, and what high performers do now, what is different, five years later?

LB: Five years ago you could join product with potential, sit back on a couple of decent relationships and win enough business to exceed your targets. However, lower barriers to innovation, an excess of information in the market, a tightening of budgets and rise of a more systematic approach to procurement has increased the number of stakeholders in a buyer committee. This dilutes prior relationships, exposes poorly conducted sales processes and extends the sales cycle. A more professional, structured approach is now required with deeper insight into customer buying habits. Salespeople must be able to add value at every stage of the customer journey. Also, more than ever, vendor confusion is driving inaction and salespeople must be able to cut through the noise on behalf of the client and overcome this objection with a deeper understanding of their business challenges and solve these problems with their products and services.

TS: Any additional thoughts you want to share?

LB: I am frequently asked by salespeople how to balance the time spent on social networks with time spent direct selling. My response, having created content and embraced social selling myself, is to spend little time doing it. I could never have done what I do now carrying a multi-million-dollar quota. However, I would be working more closely with marketing and helping them to target my clients with content. I would also use social networks to share relevant content to my customers, look for trigger events and find reasons to get in touch from their public new feeds and mutual connections. I would also use technology to automate and aggregate information. Digital networks help identify opportunities and using them can be done while commuting, or in a 15-minute time block at the beginning of the day. In my mind it’s a long-term strategy that can be very powerful in the right hands. It also helps to collaborate better with other areas of your sales organization. However, it does not replace direct selling activities and is not the answer to pipeline woes.

TS: Your findings and experience match pretty well with our data. The more aligned the social strategies are between sales and marketing, the more focused and the more effective salespeople use social media tools and processes. Focus, speed, integration, and adoption are the key success factors we have seen in top performers when it comes to social selling. And I think your last sentence nails it: social selling does not replace direct selling activities.

Thanks so much, Lee, for sharing your insights!

You can download Lee’s research paper on US versus UK social selling on his website.

Twitter: @No1BestSeller 


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