The term “social selling” means different things to different people. As a result confusion often arises when this topic comes up for discussion particularly when the conversation is between individuals with different types of experience with sales and social media.
For our purposes, social selling is defined as the integration of social media tools and practices with your sales process in order to increase sales productivity. Based on this definition, let’s talk about what social selling is not.
1. Social selling is not substituting charisma or a pleasant personality for sales skills and product knowledge. While relationships will always be a key part of the sales process, as well as for any business interaction, today’s buyers have more choices, are better informed, more skeptical and less loyal than their predecessors. Buyers, especially in B2B transactions, demand some form of business value from vendors before entering into a relationship that may eventually result in a sale.
2. Social selling is not using social media platforms purely as another channel to push out sales and marketing messages. Before the advent of social channels which facilitate two way communication, sales professionals relied on distribution channels like advertising, TV and radio. There was no way to easily share content or interact with the originator of the message. Today’s buyer is inundated with sales messages and tunes them out through technology if possible and mentally otherwise. Social channels are great for raising awareness, sharing relevant, helpful content that is not sales oriented and initiating non-threatening relationships that may eventually move to a phone call or meeting.
3. Social selling is not a substitute for in person meetings and phone calls. Social channels are ideal for researching individuals and organizations, finding business intelligence, monitoring brand reputation, initiating relationships and building communities. In most cases, however, these platforms are not the best place to have the in depth conversations that deepen relationships and close sales. While there will always be exceptions, in most cases phone calls and live meetings are best for the parts of the sales process that involve answering objections, negotiating and closing sales.
Due to the growing importance of social media, it is now the #1 activity on the internet, smart sales professionals and organizations are incorporating these channels into their sales strategies. Research by Forrester Research and the Aberdeen Group shows that salespeople using social selling consistently outperform those who have not yet adopted these practices.
Please share your experience with social selling – have you started yet?
Stan Robinson, CEO of SHR Marketing, LLC, helps businesses and professionals grow revenues and advance their careers using social media and content marketing. He specializes in helping clients use LinkedIn to showcase their personal brand, develop new business relationships, and generate more sales.