Social sales is definitely the buzzword of the moment in the sales world. I’ve been seeing more articles about social selling strategy sprout up online than ever before over the past few weeks, and for good reason; social media platforms, when used correctly, can be the key to finding thousands of new prospects or, with any luck, to thousands of new prospects finding you.
Written by salespeople with decades of experience of the traditional sales game and posted on more-than-credible business websites, many of the articles look great at first glance.
Worryingly though, a lot of the hints and tips I’ve seen written within these articles have been completely off kilter and relatively misleading, which brings me to wonder how much time salespeople and marketers are wasting using dud social media strategies that are going to get them nowhere any time soon.
What many of these ‘experienced’ salespeople write about is a mystical place online called LinkedIn. In this magic domain live thousands of perfect prospects, many of whom can be sold to online.
These experts talk about how to craft InMails, which you’ll send to thousands of people at once, all of whom are members of specific industry groups, and, as a result, have a professional interest in what you’re selling.
These well crafted, tactically astute InMails will render a great response rate, a large amount of interest in what you’re selling, and create a network of people within your target industry talking about you, your products, and getting in touch with you to find out more.
This word of mouth should then spread as you offer good post-sale service, and, as you slowly make a name for yourself over time, your sales continue to grow.
While I admittedly don’t have as many years of traditional sales experience under my belt as the writers I’m talking about, I do have quality experience of social marketing and sales which has given me great working knowledge of the major social platforms, and I can tell you for a fact that social sales is an entirely different ball game to the traditional sales game that some of these articles seem to describe.
The truth is that you’ll probably struggle to sell anything directly through LinkedIn, and you’ll definitely struggle if you’re writing generic InMails. You see most people are wise enough to know when they’re being sent a personal message and when an InMail is being sent out in bulk. For the majority of the time, it’s completely obvious. The InMail says that you and the sender haven’t met before but share a LinkedIn group, and that the sender can offer you something of value.
The main thing that most of these ‘experienced’ salespeople fail to write about though is how different social selling is to traditional sales, and how much the nature of prospects has changed over the past 15 years.
Simply put, selling traditionally involves pitching to somebody, building a relationship with them, and then working your magic along the way to ensure that at least one sale is made.
What social platforms like LinkedIn have done is flip this process on its head. Salespeople can now speak to prospects and learn exactly what their problems are before they pitch, meaning pitches can be filled with solutions to problems, making the product or service on offer seem extremely valuable to the prospect. It goes without saying that this seriously increases the chances of a sale, not to mention the opportunity for cross-sales and up-sales due to the fact that the salesperson in question actually knows the challenges the customer faces.
In essence, what social selling allows a salesperson to do is make somebody realize that they have a problem, and then, using this information, offer them a solution.
For any salesperson that wants to stop wasting time cold calling and start using social media to create warm, well-informed calls that result in long-standing sales relationships, check out our free whitepaper – Sales Strategy Secrets of a Social Ninja – in which you’ll learn how to properly research your prospects, maintain your relationships once prospects have become clients, and choose the right time to pitch.