What is social selling? It’s one of those terms you probably hear a lot but may not be able to define. At Sandler Training, we define social selling as: “Using online networks and resources to add more prospects, opportunities, and information to your sales pipeline.”
Many confuse social selling with social media marketing. They think it's about getting thousands of online followers, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter followers, blasting out messages, and getting people to buy based on the call-to-action in those messages. While it’s possible, it’s an aspect of social media marketing -- which isn’t very scalable if you happen to be in a company with 500 salespeople. It's unlikely that 500 individual salespeople will each be industry experts with thousands of followers. Expecting them to generate business from total strangers by leveraging the power of a compelling tweet? Not very realistic.
What is possible, however, is using social media to add people, opportunities, and information to your network. If you look around, you’ll see that’s what the most accomplished sales professionals are doing today.
Tap into the Limitless Potential of Social Selling
What I love about the three elements we include in the Sandler definition of social selling --prospects, opportunities, and information -- is they're virtually unlimited. There is always somebody else whom you can meet. There is always another selling opportunity. There is always more information that can help you qualify or progress in those sales opportunities. This definition reminds us there are endless resources that we can tap into via social media to help us sell more and sell more easily.
Your knowledge, relationships, and attention are the infinite resources that you can trade to get those other infinite opportunities back, the ones that help you sell more and sell more easily. And here’s the good news. This part is scalable. Every salesperson, no matter how skilled they are with technology or how long they’ve been in the business, has relationships, attention, and specialized knowledge they can use to secure more people to talk to, more sales opportunities, and more information. This concept is the theory behind social selling success.
To put it into practice, start giving your attention to your prospects by liking and sharing their posts. Start giving your knowledge by writing interesting and helpful posts or curating and sharing industry articles. If you want more referrals and introductions, start making them for other people and leverage your relationships and network to meet more people.
Keeping a One-to-One Focus
We believe the key to social selling success lies in recognizing that even though you can blast a message to a lot of people on social media, ultimately, you are trying to develop a one-on-one relationship with a prospect. Salespeople need to generate more one-on-one conversations that result in sales opportunities. Whether it's LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, what you’re doing is using a one-to-many medium to support a one-to-one sales approach.
Your company can build an audience, brand awareness, and lead generation funnels. That’s Marketing’s function, not yours. It’s going to take a long time to build an audience and a personal platform large enough to generate weekly opportunities, and if you’re like most salespeople, you don't have that time. Most likely, you need a sale this week. Your goal shouldn’t be to write a blog post that gets more “likes” than anyone else in your space. Your goal is simply to add prospects, opportunities, and information to your existing sales pipeline, and then leverage those to start a single conversation about a legitimate, qualified sales opportunity.
Social selling has blurred the line between marketing and sales, but as a salesperson, you need to redefine it for yourself. Are you getting paid to build an audience, or you getting paid to open and close sales opportunities?