Relationship Marketing

Social Selling: Everything You Need to Know

Twenty years ago, there were two things that everyone believed were going to revolutionize commerce and industry: cell phones and e-commerce.

First came the mobile revolution- mobile technologies significantly impacted how we interacted, shopped, and banked. Next came e-commerce, with the predictions that brick and mortar enterprises were about to be displaced with “click” and mortars.

Did this all happen? Yes and no. Mobile phones indeed became the fastest-adopted consumer technology of all time. And online shopping is now a convenient and cost-effective route for buying stuff.

But we didn’t change what we do, just how we do it.

How Social Selling Changes Business

These revolutions simply added another tool for doing things we were already doing anyway. We are still communicating and shopping, and likely always will be. What we and our customers are doing isn’t changing, just how we’re doing it.

Social selling is similar in this regard.

From vendors of social selling apps and social networks to industry analysts, experts, and pundits, everyone by now has caught onto the fact that social selling is big. If you don’t believe me, just read Hubspot’s article “Why Not Being Active on Social Media Is a Huge Mistake For Salespeople” for a few good reasons why you, too, should be selling with social.

Social Selling Isn’t a Bandaid

But social selling is not a cure-all for your sales woes. It won’t magically make you or your team any better at the bread-and-butter aspects of selling: connecting with buyers, uncovering needs, demonstrating impact, overcoming objections, and presenting compelling solutions to name a few. All of these things are still just called “selling,” and they’re vital skills to have.

Social selling author and expert Barbara Giamanco makes a great point in her article “Why I’m Over Social Selling,” stating that “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.”

Social Selling Augments Prospecting

Social selling is not the “new” selling, and it’s not going to displace anything, besides perhaps some aspects of prospecting. Great sellers will build relationships well before they meet up with buyers through sharing valuable content, expressing their opinions and expertise online, and standing out in a crowded space. Social selling will allow both sides (buyers and sellers) to gather intelligence about each other and come to the table more informed.

And in five year’s time, we’ll just call that a part of “selling.” The thought of picking up the phone and dialing a perfect stranger with hardly any preparation in an effort to secure a meeting will be as alien to us as the idea that once we were actually “dialing” on a rotary phone.

Social Selling… And Sales

True sales success isn’t built on how well you are able to connect with decision makers on your favorite social media platform, how much time you spend answering questions on forums, or your follower count on Twitter.

Sure, those things all contribute, in their own way. But they’re not what’s going to close the deal. Not by a long shot.

Social selling has its place in the early phases of the sales cycle in prospecting and building thought leadership. Everything that follows still requires solid sales skills like educating your buyer with new ideas and perspectives.

Follow ups and referrals will always bring more business than anything else. Learning how to follow up and gain referrals effectively will be the hidden skills in the future, where social selling is king.

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