There’s a lot of hype surrounding social selling and with that hype comes a hefty amount of misunderstanding. The enthusiasm that is surrounding social selling is admirable, but these new selling tactics must be understood before sales representatives start tweeting their hearts out. Business leaders need to have a clear and concise grasp on what it is they are getting involved in. What follows is an attempt to push aside the hoopla and hype in order to explain what social selling is and what it is not.
Social selling is, essentially, a way to share content. Since content sharing is usually a job for someone in the marketing department, the assumption that some companies make is that it is just another job for that particular division. This is incorrect. Salespeople must do the work themselves. How else are they supposed to connect with, and build trust with, potential buyers?
Don’t attempt to automate social selling. If all salespeople have the same assortment of shared content, consumers will easily spot the ruse. This method is lazy and comes across as inauthentic and contrived. Social selling is also a continuous endeavor. It is not a game of one post/tweet and done. Salespeople need to learn to be vigilant with social media sharing and must make it part of their everyday routine. This is essential, especially if they expect revenue to be positively impacted by social activity. Furthermore, social selling is not a sprint to the finish line. It is more akin to a marathon, in that salespeople must not make the mistake of assuming that fruitful results will be seen after the first few days.
A common oversight is the belief that social selling is all about selling. You are making a critical error if you are approaching social selling with the same tired and archaic hard-sell tactics on social media. Social selling is more about building and nurturing relationships and less about the repetitiveness of cold pitches. The idea is to connect with your buyers, not bore them to tears or scare them away. When implemented correctly, social selling is about the creation of palpable relationships with people. There should be no tricks up your sleeve; subversive and unethical techniques need to be thrown away and forgotten.
Social selling should not be used as a glittery new replacement for spam. If you are using Twitter or LinkedIn to mass-send your cold pitches, you are making a huge mistake. Spam is spam. It always has been and it always will be. Nobody has time for it. Also, while we’re on the topic of the unnecessary; social selling is not cold calling. It can be a lot more fun and useful than cold calling ever dreamed of being.
With social selling, knowing your audience and their tolerance for information is paramount. Nobody likes a blabbermouth and the same is true on social media. Being garrulous and long-winded on social media can mean your downfall. Social selling is about listening to your buyers, as well as taking the time to learn and understand their interests and goals. This type of thought leadership is what builds trust between a buyer and a salesperson.
To piggyback on that last point and to be perfectly clear: Social selling is not a replacement for face-to-face interactions. Meetings between people, in person, will never lose importance. Even with social media, salespeople need to strive to be everywhere their potential clients are. This extends from an online presence to being physically present at trade shows and other events. Furthermore, social selling should not replace email and phone outreach. It is simply a complimentary tactic.
It’s important to remember that social selling is not a miracle cure. It will not transform a bad product or service into a good one. It cannot be used to mask faulty or broken commodities. It would be ludicrous to expect such a thing.
It’s also imperative to show a sustained interest in potential buyers. That being said, one must steer clear of wandering into stalker territory, where every single tweet, post, video and blog is liked and commented on. Use good judgment, as social selling is not intended to be creepy.
Never forget that social selling is primarily about being “social.” Connecting and networking with people should be every salesperson’s modus operandi. One should not get involved with social media for the sole purpose of being seen online. This is absurd and counterproductive. It’s also not a sound strategy for success.
Lastly, social selling is not for everyone. Believe it or not, there are still buyers out there who are not on social media. Again, the goal is to be wherever your buyers are. That’s the key. Whether they are on social media, sitting in a boardroom or someplace else entirely, the salesperson who wishes to succeed must search them out. Social selling is just another way to be seen and heard.