Why Reinforcement For Social Selling Leads To Sales Outcomes

January 12, 2016

If you’ve read the book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell, you know the story of Wayne Gretzky, and how he became the greatest hockey player of all time. Every day after school, Wayne practised hockey on the rink that his father had created in their backyard. The book also talks about renowned musician Yo-Yo Ma, who spent hours practising his cello. What do these two have in common? They spent countless hours honing their craft, which is the catalyst to the 10,000 hours needed to become an expert at anything.

In truth, sales professionals won’t wait for 10,000 hours to become experts at selling! But like Gretzky and Yo-Yo Ma, the reality is that for any behavioral change to exist, there needs to be constant reinforcement and repetition. As Zig Ziglar said,

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So as a sales professional, why would you treat your sales practice any differently?

If you’re a sales enablement leader, you have to recognize that Social Selling is a massive behavioral change from how your sales force is selling today. Some of your sales professionals have been selling the same way for many years, and you can’t expect that they’re going to take a process that’s tried and true to them and shift overnight. According to Aberdeen Group research, companies that are “post-training reinforcers” achieve better business results. The companies that use post-training reinforcement have seen 34% more new sales hires achieving the quota designed for them by their leaders. This is why reinforcement is critical. And it has to adopted in bite-sized chunks.

At Sales for Life, we learned this the hard way. When we first started our business, we tried to make digital transformation happen overnight. We crammed too much information into the minds of our students, and predictably, the learning didn’t stick.

How do you create behavioral change? By following this simple sequence.

Sequence for behavioral change

1. Creating awareness that a problem exists.

2. Backing up that problem with facts and figures that a person can relate to which pushes them off their status quo. We call this priority shifting. If you can push them off their status quo, they’ll be willing to listen.

3. Showing them a prescriptive process (or formal sales methodology) to making that change that complements the way they are accustomed to selling, so they can clearly see it’s an additive but simple process to change.

4. Having them practice it as a daily routine. For every deal every day they’re working that account.

5. Testing that change.

With this simple sequence, you’ve drawn a baseline in the sand and made an incremental change. It’s now simple to measure how well this is progressing, because you’ve only made one mechanical change. And you can test that a learning behaviour has changed into a sales outcome that your sales professionals can now indoctrinate into their sales process by adding one extra step. That’s what great reinforcement does – it changes one mechanic, tests it, and then improves it. This is why reinforcement is critical.

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