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Social Selling as the New Sales Skill

Posted by Trish Bertuzzi on Wed, Aug 24, 2011

I have a confession to share – I have gone through the full 5-stage Kübler-Ross coping model with the buzz around Social Selling.

Here’s how it went:

  • Stage 1: Denial
    Oh brother, another prospecting upgrade that trashes everything that came before it. This can’t be happening again.
  • Stage 2: Anger
    Are you kidding me?!! “Social” doesn’t sell – people do.
  • Stage 3: Bargaining
    I actually like what Nigel Edelshain has to say about Social Calling, maybe we can take the best prospecting tips and leave the BS Bingo behind.
  • Stage 4: Depression
    Who am I to fight the tide of the next great buzzword? 
    -and finally-
  • Stage 5: Acceptance

As you might imagine, I was very interested to come across a recent SiriusDecisions brief on the topic. I found this bit particularly interesting:

The primary goal of social selling is to transition the prospect from a social relationship (1:N) to a human interaction (1:1) via email, telephone, video or in person as soon as possible.

So you use social to bait the hook, but then execute traditional methods to launch the sales process. Am I splitting hairs? Maybe, but I’m the one doing the accepting!

My biggest concern with the rush to social is the same as it is with any other must-do prospecting methodology. You have to understand your buyers and how it delivers them value - before making any investment in adopting the approach.

(For example: texting a prospect may be highly effective at getting your messages read, but if it annoys or angers prospects in the process, is it really a win?)

Social Selling: The Newest Sales Skill

The brief (Social Selling: The Newest Sales Skill) goes into 4 competencies that Sales Reps need to develop.

  • Social presence- Buyers are researching Sales Rep as much as they are researching products & services.

    What do your Reps’ online presence look like?  Are they professional or are they better suited for friends and family only?  Hiring managers are using social profiles to qualify candidates in or out before they even interview them. So too will buyers.

  • Search- Where do Reps gather the information they need to engage buyers in interesting & relevant conversation?

    SiriusDecisions mentions data sources such as ZoomInfo/Hoovers/OneSource and LinkedIn/Facebook as public social sites.  The idea is to go beyond “collecting the data” towards leveraging the information for improved sales conversations.

  • Monitor- Knowing which trigger events or announcements create compelling business eventsfor your solution and can open the door to a sales conversation.

    But, SiriusDecisions warns, “Building, monitoring and maintaining a list of qualified suspects, along with identifying triggers can be time-consuming without a monitoring process in place.”

  • Approach- So you have spent time in developing a presence, searching & monitoring - now what?

    Hey, here’s a thought, pick up the phone and use the information to engage with the buyer.  Nobody wants to be a wall flower and to be part of the dance you have step out on the floor.  Once again to quote SiriusDecisions, “teaching reps tactics for executing and gauging the impact of these (outbound) approaches replaces random cold calling with a structured method."

At the end of the day, it isn’t the medium as much as the emotion that matters. You have to believe in what you sell and you have to care about your industry.  And that, my friends, will be true for the next sales buzzword, bright shiny toy & beyond. Thanks for listening.

But what do you think? What are your teams with these Social Selling skill sets?

(Photo credit: catskillsgrrl)

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Great feedback. You provided a well structured approach in few words.

posted @ Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:05 AM by Gordon Folz

Recently, I 've been getting crushed by LinkedIn messages from Sales Reps and really dislike it. 
It may be better for them - but not for me. To your point, it all comes down to weighing the benefit to both parties (seller & buyer).

posted @ Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:12 AM by Matt Bertuzzi

I support 100% everything you said. 
Social networking is a new communication tool in our tool box to gather in combination with Search tools: 
- intelligence about key targets and contacts faster, 
- create an initial link built on a possible value proposition, 
- if received positively, build a 1 to 1 HUMAN relationship. And there, nothing replaces voice and the interactivity and emotions a phone conversation provides to move to the next steps (mutual discovery dialogue). 
Nothing new under the sun ...

posted @ Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:17 AM by Michel Lavergne

Many people are still trying to figure out exactly how to leverage social media to support business objectives and rightly so: hard to ignore the numbers and adoption rates, but clearly there are a lot of things that could go wrong with a harried rush to join the fray of social selling just because everyone's talking about it.  
I like your statement:"You have to understand your buyers and how it delivers them value." This should be the bottom line for any activity we engage in business: Is social media where YOUR customers hang out? Why are they there? Is there any valuable data to collect there that supports your sales process or creates opportunities? and most of all, can you prove it? 
Nicely done, 
Don F Perkins 

posted @ Thursday, August 25, 2011 12:46 PM by Don F Perkins

i like the definition here: The primary goal of social selling is to transition the prospect from a social relationship (1:N) to a human interaction (1:1) via email, telephone, video or in person as soon as possible. 
leveraging social media to convert into huge sales opportunity is definitely one of the best marketing technique. 
Need a voicemail number for business? 

posted @ Friday, August 26, 2011 4:06 AM by peterw

After all was said and done, a call was made. That's what salespeople do: they call on prospective buyers. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even 40 years ago we tried to get as much information about the prospect before we made the initial call; we're still doing it, just somewhat differently because the tools of interaction have vastly improved. Excellent piece, well written.

posted @ Friday, August 26, 2011 6:36 AM by Robert Terson

Great blog post Trish. Sorry I'm late to the party but your insights on social media's place in the sales environment are very helpful and help move the conversation of social selling forward.

posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 12:29 PM by Koka Sexton

I have found that understanding your potential clients needs can only be done through forums based around your niche. You have to be a really good listener not a "teller".

posted @ Friday, November 04, 2011 10:33 PM by Colin Cooper

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