I said it. I am over social selling. Totally. Over. It.
Given that I’ve been evangelizing the integration of social media into your selling process for years, you might be wondering why. In a word… noise.
And not just noise, but noise specifically coming from a whole new crop of experts, as well as companies who are looking to capitalize on what they perceive is a hot SEO term. Each camp then goes about finding a way to put their own self-serving spin on the subject. It has become nauseating.
As someone who loves the profession of selling and has worked hard to elevate the perception and professionalism of our industry, it riles me up that this new breed of social selling noisemakers only drag the profession down. These experts don’t actually talk about what it takes to successfully sell today. They can’t. They don’t know how to sell. Oh, they can copy and repeat what others have already said for years and act like they are the first to tout such profound wisdom. They are good at bragging about how many Twitter followers they have or how high their Klout score is. They will beat you over the head that it’s “all about content”. On LinkedIn, they want you to know they have high SSI (social selling index) scores, which supposedly means the higher your score, the higher your sales opportunities will be. Except for one thing. Scores, followers and sharing content have zip to do with the ability to sell.
Let’s talk about selling, shall we.
I love social tools, if put into the hands of those that have been trained in the art and science of core selling skills. –Miles Austin
Anyone with any REAL SALES BACKGROUND already understands that social channels are nothing more than another set of “tools” that you can avail yourself of to reach potential buyers. We know that buyers block cold emails and phone calls, because they just don’t trust vendors to do much more than waste their precious time trying to pitch them.
We also know that as a result of easy access to information, buyers and their teams go online to research companies, solutions and people to get a sense of who will make their short-list when they have a problem to solve. But the latest noise would have you believe that content is all that drives buying decisions. Yes, content is important, but content IS NOT going to close that B2B, highly complex sale. Content may win you the opportunity to have a sales conversation, but from that point on your consultative selling skills better be top notch, because that’s what wins business. I have said this for years, and I’ll keep saying it until there is no more breath left in my body.
This graphic I put together illustrates how I think about the sales process. From my point of view, using social channels (social selling) fits in those first 3 steps you take to connect with and engage buyers in order to secure the sales meeting. You can also use social channels to keep up with ongoing support and the nurturing of your client relationships. But what about those stages in between? Qualify the opportunity, propose a solution, negotiate the terms of the deal, close the business and deliver the service? I can think of few situations where those steps are happening using social channels. These activities are happening when you are actually engaged in the art of selling. You know…when you are talking to and meeting with potential buyers.
Yes, absolutely, integrate the use of social media into your sales process, but I’m asking you not to believe anyone who would suggest that’s all you need to successfully compete for business. You must have great sales skills and understand your buyer’s decision making process well enough to align your approach to theirs.
Being a great salesperson doesn’t rely on cheap social selling tricks. Your success depends on taking a strategic sales approach, great selling skills that focuses on solving problems for buyers and a process that you consistently execute against. You can follow the social selling noisemakers who can’t go further than clicks, likes and shares and believe their hype, or, you can get the training you need and do the work it takes – throughout the entire sales process – to be great at selling.