There’s a lot of danger in using catchy phrases to describe something that everyone defines differently through the various solutions they offer. The term Social Selling is no different; nobody really knows what it is when a wild array of Social Selling toolsets are built to look Social; but don’t really get the job of selling done any better. Let’s just keep in mind that tools don’t do the selling for you. The organization, the processes, and the people performance are what really matter; with the right technology thrown in to support them.
At the heart of selling, a fairly static set of things need to be accomplished. Below, I’m representing it as a very simple process in the form of a job map:
This is high level (like a Level 1 capability) and there is certainly a hierarchy of things that hang off of something like this. It’s also probably missing a few things. But, for the sake of a simple blog post, let’s start by really understanding how value is perceived by the folks who are trying to sell products or services. They don’t have time to get all confused about some new concept that is completely irrelevant. Nor can they afford to invest the time and money in products that shift attention to a shiny new concept; at the expense of the fundamental truths of their work – selling.
Terms like Digital and Social are really just an attempt to wrap our minds around how needs change over time. Understanding the full portfolio of needs that consumers / customers use to evaluate a product or service is critical if a) you want to monitor the shift in the value chain over time and b) if you want to understand when to, or not to, invest in the latest buzz phrase. If you can align features to your newly prioritized needs without losing table stake needs, then you can make the switch. If not, then that product will fail fast (I mean really fast!)
Here’s what Social Selling looks like (kinda, sorta)
Social Selling represents a shift in what consumers of selling tools value as new capabilities surface in the environment. Social Selling isn’t a new thing and I contend that continually pitching yourself as a social seller, or a social selling platform is silly. You’re still just selling…
If I were to blend in Digital I would have highlighted “Close a Sale” and “Deliver the Product” since areas around payment delivery have certainly evolved a lot over the past 10 years. The point I’m trying to make with this simple depiction is that dormant outcomes have emerged as salespeople reassessed how well a step gets done given a new set of capabilities in the market. These capabilities have…
- Reduced the time or even increased the ability of people to build networks
- Made it easier to find information about prospects (and friends) no matter where and when you are
- Changed the way we establish and maintain relationships – from in-real-life interactions to digital interactions (and also IRL interactions)
- Increases the number of channels Customers can access to raise issues and/or solve issues together
There are many other outcomes that are being sought at varying levels of importance and satisfaction. What these emerging capabilities haven’t done is change a simple fact…we’re still just selling. It will be interesting to see how the next wave of concepts impacts this simple map. I can assure you, the map won’t change; but outcomes that had just been sitting there, ignored, will emerge as the new must haves.