All The Hype Around Social Selling Really Concerns Me


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hypeFor those of you who don’t know me, I’m a social seller. Certainly not to the extent that some of the social media superstars out there are, but enough so that I don’t have to deploy any other means to generate demand. Add that to inbound from referrals and repeat business with past clients, I’m in pretty good shape.

I get how social works, the do’s and don’ts, the platforms, the upside, and the downside.

This is what concerns me: Social selling isn’t for everyone. Not for every buyer and not for every seller. And social selling doesn’t have an on-off switch. It’s not binary. There are degrees to which it can facilitate making contact, enable you to enhance relationships with potential customers, provide value to those customers, and generally get buyers closer to the point where they will buy from you. It’s not all or nothing.

If the industry into which you sell has not made significant inroads into using social networking for research, gathering insights, and connecting with potential suppliers, you are not going to get them there.

Everyone in sales should have a complete, up-to-date LinkedIn profile. The profile should list, for each position, the value that person delivered to their customers. It should not be an online resume, unless you’re looking for a job.

How much further should you, your company, and your salespeople go with respect to using LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and other social platforms? Here is where some well-meaning social selling experts and I diverge.

Social selling is not a universal elixir that will magically overcome a multitude of ineffective or non-existent selling practices. Social will only get you so far. And in some cases, not very far at all.

Even with the increasing wave toward social during the past five years, sales reps still need to be competent in many areas to be effective and efficient. Which of the capabilities in the list attached to the link above are you willing to give up in place of social media skills? And those are only basic selling skills. The list doesn’t include those capabilities that enable experienced salespeople to consistently win business, such as financial acumen, political selling skills, and competitive strategies and tactics, to name just a few.

There is no question that social selling can be extremely effective in some—even many—situations. And I know that social selling will become more and more of a required competency for sales people to succeed going forward, once all the social laggards get on the bus. But for right now, please objectively assess your need for your salespeople to blindly spend time social selling at the expense of what may offer a much higher return.

Finally, if you have assessed the adoption of social within your target market(s) and have determined you need to be there, be very strategic and deliberate when it comes to where and how within your established sales process(es) social should be applied. And, if it’s at all possible, measure that impact.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Stein
Dave specializes in helping his clients win critical B2B sales opportunities as well as helping them hire the best sales talent.Dave is co-author of Beyond the Sales Process. He wrote the best-selling How Winners Sell in 2004.


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