“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie
So, you’ve heard about this thing called “Social Selling” and you want to immediately drop what you are doing and put it into play. It’s going to be great… you’re going to get active on various social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and you’re going to light up the skies with your sales efforts. You’ve found the answer to your sales woes and this latest and greatest strategy is going to have you rock your way to the top!
This is great, right? Not so fast. Let’s break it down. Social Selling is widely regarded as the strategic process of developing Relationships as part of your sales process. Yes – we sometimes forget that Sales is a process, which mainly involves having to build Relationships. I know that might sound scary for some – taking you out of your comfort zone, but the days of sending out mass emails with random, non-targeted, generic messaging that doesn’t resonate with those it’s intended for are over! At least if you want to be Social Selling, they are.
Building Relationships… Sounds simple in theory, right? But in reality, investing in a Relationship takes time, energy and effort. It is hard work! Just what kind of a Relationship are you looking to build? One that is based on being thoughtful and one where you are actually interested in the other person and helping them by being generous and providing value? Well, if that’s the case, then Social Selling is for you! And the best part is that you will clearly stand out from everyone else who typically communicates like this; “Hi, I’d like to add you to my network” or “Hi, We have the best Technology for….”. Because that is not Social Selling! Not only is that not Social Selling, that’s not even good old fashioned Selling from a time and place long before Social Networks had us spending most of our connected moments surfing them! Relationships are the baseline for collaborating effectively. Trying to ‘transact’ with someone without investing in them will have you fighting an unnecessary uphill battle to get to your Sales goals.
So, with that being said, let’s dive deeper on what it means to build Relationships as part of your Sales Process and how you can successfully build the foundation of what it means to be practicing Social Selling. There are 3 Rules that I like to closely follow and here they are…
Rule #1 to effective Social Selling is to Be Generous. Think of how you can help that person. How you can add value to their life and how you can make them better at what they are doing. It’s a process. See a great article about their industry that they might want to read – share it with them! See something that one of their competitors is doing that might cause concern for them – reveal those insights! Give of your time, not because you want them to learn about your latest and greatest bright shiny new object, but because you want to learn about them first. Why? Because you want to help them. Yes you want to help them!
Rule #2 to effective Social Selling is to build a Relationship with the person. Do they like their job? What projects are they working on? What are their career goals and where do they want to be in 5 years? Get to know them and you will uncover so much more than if you didn’t. Oh, and by getting to know them it will dramatically reduce the extremely high odds that if you just push something on them without getting to know them that you will be rejected. But it takes time to get to know people! You might have to have a coffee with them or go for lunch or spend time hearing about what they do and maybe even about their favourite recipe for vegetarian lasagna. You may have to meet-up with them several times and who knows when all of this courting will actually lead to a sale, right? Right. Getting to know them does take time. Relationships take time and there is no short cut here. Sorry!
Rule #3 to effective Social Selling is to Add Value. I bet you thought I was going to say to ‘Pitch them’ right? Wrong. I’m so sorry to disappoint, but I want to remind you that we are talking about Social Selling here. There are loads of ways to add value. You can suggest something for them to use that will help him or her greatly. You can inspire them to take action and even lend a helping hand in doing so. You can show them how you’ve done something and how it’s made a dramatic impact on your business and how they may benefit from it as well. You can invite them to an event you are going to. You can provide a new perspective like I did the other day with someone that was wondering how they could solve an issue with one of their Marketing Partners. You get the idea, right? You can help and helping is only helpful if you add value.
So… OK… Now we are ready to Pitch, right? No we are not! What? No Sales Pitching? No long-winded emails about how great our solutions are and how they are going to take their business to the next level? No proactive hard-selling and chest beating about how we are the largest in our category and have industry leading technology that will transform their current operational infrastructure into a fully optimized digital platform that their competitors will envy? No. You see, when you are engaging in Social Selling effectively, Pitching becomes unnecessary, because at some point in the conversation while you are doing this thing called building a Relationship which involves being generous, getting to know them better and adding value, they will indeed want to learn about You! And when they become curious about what you do, how you do it and how it may benefit them, they will ask, discuss and converse with you and that’s when you can share how you’ve helped your Clients to date and all the great things you are up to and why you love doing it so much. The Relationship you will have built will have a little thing baked in by then called ‘Trust’ and that will go a long way in you taking it all to the next level. Not only that – you might actually start to enjoy yourself and the process.
The Rules are there for a reason and I’ve seen the pool of conversations, relationships and opportunities steadily climb upward when they are effectively applied. It’s well worth it.
So… what do you think? Are you Cut Out for Social Selling?
Contributed by Ron Kunitzky
Co-Founder & Advisor, Reinvate Inc.