I present this diagram to you to visually illustrate what social selling is and what it isn’t. If social selling can be broken down to its most logical functions, I believe this is largely it.
What’s the goal of all of this, of using social selling, in the overall sales process? It’s simple – it’s the same as sales overall: to build relationships that drive revenue. But then why are we making social selling so complicated?
Why are all of us in the social selling “industry” making it sound so complex? I submit to you that we’re not – it’s still largely the overall unawareness of social tools that’s contributing to overall adoption.
Should You Practice One or More of These?
So as you look at this diagram, you may be wondering do I need to do 1 OR 2 OR 3 or 1 AND 2 AND 3.
Practicing all three is much better but doing one at a time isn’t bad, either. All except in one case. Let’s start at the top – which in this case is at the bottom of the list, # 3 Communication.
When we think of social selling, to no fault of our own, our immediate thoughts swirl around communication on social media. That is, sending messages and InMails on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. to prospects to bring them into a conversation with us.
The challenge is that we haven’t learned that social platforms are different by their very nature – they require us to modify our behaviors slightly. Not because the platforms are different per se, but because we need to understand why buyers are there in the first place.
If someone is there to network, then they necessarily don’t want a sales pitch, right? Here’s a great visual example of a really bad LinkedIn message one of my colleagues received. On a side note, check out this blog to see more examples of bad social messages.
From our observations in the market, through many conversations, many salespeople are using tools like LinkedIn to build databases of prospects that they can then sell to in the same old, cookie-cutter way that they’re used to.
In fact, I’ve talked to hundreds of people that have purchased LinkedIn Sales Navigator for their sales teams to, ultimately, help build these prospect lists faster. Is that the best use of LinkedIn?
Now, here’s a question for you all: what’s the response rate on bad emails? I’m sure you’ll anecdotally believe that it’s low. Some would argue that it’s between 1% to 3% at most. So then why would it be different on social platforms?
The thinking we have when we do this can be described with the following statement:
Let’s not change what we say, even though it hardly works, but repeat it in a different place.
In short, communication is simply one aspect of social selling. It’s the part we think is the responsibility of sales people. But how about the other parts? Let’s explore.
2) Collaboration & Networking
Collaboration is something that sales professionals are doing…but in small doses. Networking with prospects and existing buyers online is treated like kryptonite, even though it isn’t.
Networking with people on social media is, singlehandedly, the reason FOR social media platforms. Likes, comments, shares, tweets, retweets, favorites, mentions, etc. are us expressing favor (or disfavor) about what someone is writing.
It’s one of the easiest ways for sales professionals to get top of mind with new prospects and existing customers online.
Why aren’t we doing this more?
It’s a habit that we need to build.
1) Research & Preparedness
By far, this is the most important step in social selling. Knowing things about our buyers is not only important, but a smart business strategy allowing us to correlate the benefits of our solutions to their pressing challenges/pains.
In fact, in today’s challenging and competitive business environment, knowing thy buyer is an absolutely necessity. This is not something you can afford to do without.
Make those dials, send those emails, knock on doors, set up those tradeshow booths, do what you must…but know your buyer! It is, quite simply, one of the best and easiest ways to differentiate yourselves versus your competitors (internal and external).
Now ask yourself where you’ll do this research. From the phone book and library or from online?
There is a mountain of knowledge online about buyers, their companies and their industries. And, there are easy ways to get the information that matters in seconds, enabling you to have very targeted and deliberate conversations quickly.
The Bottom Line
Social selling isn’t one of these aspects described above, or the other. It’s everything.
Start slow if you must but remember that research and preparedness is ultimately going to be a major differentiator for you.