What’s All This About Social Selling?


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There’s a lot of talk about social selling. When you peel it back, it’s a lot of talk about technology–choose your favorite; Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, and so forth. In theory, we’re all supposed to be Chattering, Yammering and Jiving. But is this what social selling is really about–technologies?

Or is it about our customers? Is it about engaging customers in improving their business? Is it about helping them grow, improve, achieve their goals and dreams. Is it about creating value for them in every interchange? Is it about challenging them, getting them to think differently? Is it about earning their trust, consistently reinforcing and building it?

I think we’re confused about social selling. Too many think it’s about the technology. Meaningless rushes for “likes,” klout, kred, numbers of connections, focused more on numbers but not on improving the quality of our ability to connect with customers. Then there’s the gaming of social selling–buying followers or likes to increase social media scores—as it means something to real customers. It seems these technologies tempt us to increase the volume — read quantity, and volume —- read noise, each of which escalates beyond meaning and understanding. Yet in the rush to get our messages out and to drive social connections, we lose sight of what we are trying to achieve.

Every day, I’m pummeled with “social” requests–that is, I’m deluged with meaningless garbage from people leveraging technology to reach out to me. I get 100?s of emails each day–most of which are unfocused, meaningless and end up in my spam folder. I’m pummeled with connection requests, seems everyone wants to be connected, or friended. But then, without knowing who I am, they follow up with selling pitches—some even incorporate these pitches in their attempts to connect.

Just because we use the technology, doesn’t mean we are being social. It just means we are pissing prospects, customers, and strangers off in every increasing volumes—read quantity and noise.

When I’m confused about things, I go to the dictionary for clarification, so I looked up “social.” I got things like

“denoting or relating to human society or any of its subdivisions.”

“of relating to, or characteristic of the experience, behaviour, and interactions of persons forming groups.”

“relating to, or having the purpose of promoting companionship.”

“Attitudes, orientations, or behaviors which take the interests, intentions, or needs of other people into account…”

These definitions of “social” had to do with how people engage people, how people interact with each other, how they create value in the engagement process. I was particularly struck by the last phrase–imagine taking the interests, intentions or needs of other people into account—what a novel idea!

None of these definitions talked about technology. None of them said “to be social you have to be on Twitter. None quantified what social means in terms of likes, followers or re-Tweets, Klout, Kred or any of the things that tend to come up in many discussions I see about social and social selling.

See social selling is not about the technology. It’s about the principles by which we want to engage people, exchange interests, ideas, and create value in the engagement. It’s about connecting–not in numbers of connections, but in meaning and value.

Social selling has been with us since the very first conversations between two human beings.

Technology gives us alternative channels for commuting. Just because we leverage technology doesn’t mean we are being social.

So when we talk about anything social, let’s be very clear about what it’s about. Let’s be purposeful in being more social, in creating greater meaning for those we are being social with. In leveraging technologies, let’s keep them in perspective, they are means of enabling social engagement–not the ends.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


  1. Dave: I’m so glad you posted this. Social media has fostered imitations of relationships. case in point: “click to connect.” I’m sure a dictionary review would reveal a similar warping of the word connection.

    I wrote a bit about this in 2009 in a blog titled “Cheap Date: Do Free Social Connections Create Hidden Costs?” The irony back then, as it is today, is that the most essential requirement for creating a personal social network is a computer and an Internet connection – not friends, associates, or colleagues. Knowing people is helpful, but most people can establish and maintain a “network” with total strangers. I find that idea strange, though it’s possible that many don’t. Maybe it’s because I was born before 1960.

    Here’s what I propose: since Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social sites face consistent revenue challenges, how about monetizing connections by charging each party $1.00 per connection, and the same to “disconnect.” That might prevent so many unsolicited requests to connect, and would certainly keep the numbers of Facebook friends my kids have below 1,000 for each. And they wouldn’t have to endure my occasional incredulity, “how can you possibly know that many people?”

  2. Andy, the only modification to your proposal would be for the USPS (and associated non US postal services) charge something like $0.40 for each external email 😉

    I might be had with a bulk email rate as well.

    Sure would help me solve my inbox problem;-)


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