Listen “sales”, – There is no such thing as Social Selling!

No doubt this statement will bring the wrath of those “social selling” experts who have arisen over the last few years.
Don’t get me wrong – there is an incredibly powerful and commercially viable way of selling by leveraging social platforms, so let me explain.

First, I have a problem with the phrase “social selling”, mostly because it gives the impression that if you jump onto a social media platform, you will immediately be able to sell something. You won’t, at least not straight away. Using social platforms as an additional channel requires a strategy and one that teaches you to move from a day trader to a long term investor and builder of relationships. Yes you may be stumble upon an update that says ” I need to buy [your product], please contact me” but this is an exception and not the rule.

I also struggle with calling a sales person a “social seller”. Does this individual now only sell on social platforms, or more importantly are they a seller who not only utilises the traditional methods of selling but also blends in the benefits of using social tools to add tremendous value to those traditional face to face and telephone meetings?

Social selling does not work when detached from traditional sales methods. I want to share a strategy that will enhance those traditional methods and if done correctly may even negate the need for cold calling.

Now that I have sorted out the jargon lets look at how the commercially viable Social Sales teams do it. The rule is; create the social wrap.

Below is a suggested approach to blending your traditional methods of selling to enable or influence a purchase decision. Here are my five tips:

1: Build your brand.

2: Contribute to discussions.

3: Network

4: Provide relevance through thought leadership.

5: Practice the law of reciprocity, always.

Build your brand.

Building your brand is key and should be the foundation of any great sales person. You are researching your clients and gaining insights to their personality, interests and business synergies. It would be naive to think that your clients are not similarly checking you out. Right now the strongest platform to convey and market your expertise is LinkedIn, but that platform may not be the only one! Yes you are in marketing now, the marketing of your value and credibility.

Contribute to discussions

Participating in discussions is not just about listening to what your clients are saying or understanding what they are listening to. It is about adding your point of view to the conversation. Don’t sell your product; instead offer advice, strategies, coaching on things to consider, how to guides. Add value to a discussion, and in so doing become the authentic helper.

Network

Network and connect with people. Whether you met face to face or virtually, if you feel that reciprocal value can be achieved then invite them to be part of your network. Top tip; always personalise the invite, because not doing so shows a lack of professionalism and integrity.
Utilise your network. Earn social credit by connecting people to others that will add value and benefit them. By doing so you will increase your network in size.
Also use your network to influence, for instance Twitter is business networking on steroids. Surround your self with people you want to influence and provide them great content, relevance and value.

Provide relevance through thought leadership

You need to understand your network. Two important question you could ask yourself are: What types of information would they benefit from? Where and when are they seeking it? This will help you ascertain which platforms will benefit you the most. Consider blogging, as this will become a huge asset to your branding and thought leadership. As your network increases in size so will the diversity and quantity of your content.

Practice the law of reciprocity

Trading favours is a huge part of doing business in the social world. If you are already utilising your network and introducing people to others, you are already practicing this law. Read more at Wikipedia 

So those are my top five tips for creating a social wrap.
It is all about building a brand, sharing your expertise, offering your helpfulness and building relationships and influence that will enable you to sell more using social media.

Share your best practices and tips below on how you are using social tools to help sales. And don’t forget to practice the law of reciprocity now

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Posted September 23, 2013 by Ben Martin - Social_Ben in category Marketing, Relationships, Sales, Social Selling, Strategy

About the Author

I am a gadget man, a film lover, Husband and proud father and not least proud to be an IBM'er. Currently working across the globe helping seller to create better connections with clients through the use of Social Media. Please feel free to contact me if I can help I will. (my opinions are of course - my own)

4 thoughts on “Listen “sales”, – There is no such thing as Social Selling!

  1. Hugh

    very pragmatic article Ben, it set’s out clearly how social tools and techniques add to the sales process, complement it and do not act as an alternative. I would be eager to see how many of the experts and gurus in the field react to your article were you to post it in a #socialselling conversation stream. Is the term #socialselling a social wrap in itself ? When one breaks down the messages they all share the common themes of developing a personal brand, listening to client need, engaging and building relationships, ultimately to become a trusted advisor that helps buyers buy,

    Reply
  2. BrandonUttley

    Ben, these are excellent points.

    I agree that there’s a misperception that “social selling” can lead to instantaneous sales, whereas in most cases it will actually take a long time–perhaps months–to develop true rapport with someone via social media that leads to a sale. Also, most people use social media to simply “be social” and relate to others like themselves–they aren’t there to be “sold.” That’s why it’s imperative for anyone to take your advice to heart and be useful first and foremost. Consumers are smart and can spot a fake (i.e., a hard seller) a mile away…that type of approach can easily backfire on social media.

    Reply
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