Guest Column | September 29, 2021

We Don't Hire "Digital Native" Salespeople. Neither Should You.

By Jay Valentine, ContingencySales

Hand holding magnifier glass hiring recruit

Some concepts sound good until you think about them a bit. Hiring a “digital native” salesperson living on social media is one of those things. It is absolute nonsense if you think it through.

Let’s experiment. You go first.

You are the buyer of a critical product. It will, if properly implemented, deliver a significant competitive advantage. You will, if it works as promised, get out of the dreary cubicle and into an office with a real door.

We just described about 95% of the thought process of the B2B tech middle management for B2B products sold and bought today.

You crave that office with a real door. It means freedom, a step up the mediocrity ladder to one day being in charge.

You are in search of that widget that can deliver a benefit recognized by enough people in your firm that your work cannot be obscured.

What do you do?

Let’s do a second experiment. This is you, again.

You post issues on social media hoping to attract responses from that anonymous universe of strangers inhabiting LinkedIn or Facebook.

Within minutes, you receive all kinds of “likes” for your post. Several comment on how insightful you are. Such notoriety is so pleasing to a cubicle-dweller.

Within 30 seconds, your “messages” tab lights up. Wow! Nobody ever messaged you except the franchise sales reps and life coaches.

The messages are from “transformations consultants” or “thought leaders” with a best-selling book on just the widget you may be seeking. They have precisely the answer on which to bet your career, that bet which if successful get that office with a door, but if not, you may get fired.

Tell us, please. Are you really going to “crowdsource” your solution to strangers on LinkedIn, Facebook, or other platform and invite them to meet your management to hear their great transformation stories? Well, are you?

Of course not. You examine their profiles.

They are all sales reps. Most are the age of your middle child. Most had 6 jobs in 10 years, averaging about 18 months or so. Will you make a career bet they have the answer that gets you that office with a door?

This is what the buyer sees when being harassed by digital natives on some social media platform. If that buyer is not a cubicle-dweller, but a Chief Technology Officer or a CFO or a CEO the differences are starker.

People, nobody buys anything of consequence via meeting strangers lurking on social media. Nobody. Ever. Forget it!

Companies are being scammed by mostly Australian and over-the-hill American social media sellers that they should hire people who can fail in this way. Don’t believe it.

OK, so what would you do?

You want that office with the door. You know the system you are trying to replace is really screwed up. Everyone does but many are afraid to say it.

It may be your ticket. Fix this system and you may be free!

You meet with friends over coffee and reach out to old pals at other firms. You describe the problem. Many say it is something they know nothing about.

Then, one day, a friend you have not seen in years tells you a story.

His firm had precisely the same problem with their billing system. Their customers were enraged. The CEO was firing people who could not get it done.

Then they brought in a certain technology that solved the problem in less than 90 days.

You do the visit; just you and your old pal see that this product is likely to work at your challenged company.

You engage directly with the vendor.

Competitors call you but there is no way you are taking your eye off the ball. You want this win, and this vendor did it for your pal’s company.

So, who got the business?

The armies of social media people did not. The one vendor, selling via a trusted advisor got the deal. And you, you got the office door.

Trusted advisor selling. It works.

Skip the digital native stuff.

About The Author

Jay Valentine is the CEO of ContingencySales, bringing disruptive technology to market without early venture capital.