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Social Selling – Everybody’s Talking About the New Sound

There is more and more talk about social media and its impact on selling. They’re calling it social selling. It isn’t hard to tell that I love the tools and that they have been very good for me in regard to sales—and lots of other opportunities. But I am old enough to remember the failed promises of both customer relationship management and sales force automation; both were going to revolutionize sales but neither improved sales performance–at least the performance of those salespeople who didn’t work to be great salespeople to begin with.

So before we get carried away with the new tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and whether or not salespeople should be writing a blog, let’s take little step backwards and answer a few questions.

Funny, But Its Still Rock-N-Roll To Me

I am going to say this pretty plainly, and it isn’t going to be popular.

If you are not a person worth buying from without social media, you are no better with social media. The clothes, in this case, do not make the man (or woman). Without the strong character, the honesty and integrity that are the table stakes for playing the game, no tool is going to make you effective.

There are no tools that replace the need for the attributes that we call character and that are the foundation of success. These include self-discipline, optimism, competitiveness, initiative, resourcefulness, determination, caring, empathy and EQ, communication, and influence. (Link to these attributes)

Bluntly, there sure as Hell better be somebody worth doing business with behind your clever tweets.

Trust me when I say that this is going to be more and more true as the tools are more widely adopted. The tools may bring you attention, but you have to be somebody worth buying from when you come out from behind your screen.

Is social selling going to be a revolution? Yes. But it isn’t going to change some things. The tools are going to amplify who you already are! This is true whether you are somebody worth doing business with, or whether you aren’t!

Same Old Story, Same Old Song and Dance, My Friends

As a profession, we in sales have always sought an edge, and we have always gravitated towards the next big, shiny, new trend. I wouldn’t give up PowerPoint as a useful tool for telling a story or conveying a picture. I wouldn’t give up sales force automation, either. Both are extremely valuable.

But if I had to choose to hire a salesperson who was proficient at Twitter, Blogging, Facebook, and LinkedIn or another salesperson who had spent some time seriously working on learning to close and ask for commitments, to differentiate themselves, to prospect like it is an art, with the business acumen to know how to help their dream clients, with the ability to diagnose and understand their dream client’s needs, to tell a story that paints a picture, that can negotiate a great deal, lead change, lead a team, and own and manage an outcome, I am going with the later. (Link to these sales skills)

The attributes and skills that lead to success make the tools effective. The tools by themselves do not make the salesperson effective. Period.

The attributes and skills that lead to success make the tools effective. The tools by themselves do not make the salesperson effective. Period.

There is no typographical error here. I typed that twice.

Where Now?

Should you adopt the tools? Should you learn about social selling and begin adding it to your toolkit and your personal repertoire?

Hell, yes!

But if—and only if—you make a much greater effort to improve yourself by focusing on developing the attributes and skills that succeeding in sales requires of you.

The big sell will be that these tools alone will revolutionize sales and selling.

You are going to be told that social selling skills will supersede the need for all of the attributes and skills that have always been required of success and of selling well. Don’t buy it!

These things are not mutually exclusive; you don’t have to choose between them. You can develop yourself in all of these areas and learn to use the tools at the same time.

In the future, those that succeed with the tools of social selling will be those that would have succeeded without the tools. Those that would have failed without social selling tools will fail still with them.

Questions

Would you buy from someone with a great Internet presence if they did not possess the character that is built on a strong foundation of honesty and integrity?

Do the tools of social selling remove the requirement that you first be trusted?

Do the tools of social selling remove your need to possess all the common attributes of successful people, like self-discipline, the ability to listen, the desire to care, and to be a person worth following? Is it possible that they amplify whatever you already are?

Do the tools eliminate your need to be skilled as a professional salesperson? Will you still need to differentiate yourself? Will you still need business acumen? Are not still going to manage change?

What is your plan for improving and using the tools?

Comments

comments

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  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    That’s right it is about a bringing value to the market place (your company or employer and your customers/clients). Social media, IT, latest gadgets (iphone, ipad, blackberry,etc) are tools, you still need to learn, drill, pratice the fundamentals of selling or let’s say – serving others. Selling is a profession that requieres technical, social, people, and knowledge- more importantly is the ability to serve others.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed!. Thanks, Juan!

  • http://twitter.com/wpgsbestmtg Daryl Harris

    Good correlation of selling skills to #SM

  • http://twitter.com/sparker9 Steven Parker

    “The attributes and skills that lead to success make the tools effective. The tools by themselves do not make the salesperson effective. Period.” That is a great insight. In fact, I think it applies to marketers as well as sales people. Everyone thinks sales is from Mars and marketing is from Venus. But if one understands the points you’ve made, and how they apply to both, then that’s pretty solid common ground. At my blog I try to point out marketing fundamentals … things that don’t change when we change tools. You’ve made a very strong case for some sales fundamentals that your colleagues should seriously consider.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Steven. I’ll check out your blog. You and I are cut from the same cloth; what’s most important is what doesn’t change . . . even though you need to understand and utilize the new tools.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/basketsbybonnie Bonnie

    A better term for “Social Selling” would be “Social Networking”. Social Media is a helpful tool for relationship building. It’s about having the “right audience” and engaging them. Listening and responding can be more effective than clever “broadcasts”.

  • R_baccari

    very well articulated. You can become efficient in all social media sites, but if you do not have the knowledge, experience and character to answer questions, and close business, then you have just illustrated the difference between activity & productivity… Getting the word out there, and attracting the attention of prospective clients is all for nothing if there is nothing behind the efforts….

  • http://twitter.com/Miratel Miratel Solutions

    Very well explained and completely true. I often need to explain social media and try and focus on the very poignant fact that without effort and discipline the tools will only create an initial layer of interest. As you say something substantial has to back that up to take those contacts to the next level.

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  • http://www.talkingmediasales.com Ben Shute

    Nice post again Anthony. I think social sales can also be flipped the other way – using the tools to gain insights and knowledge into client challenges and finding opportunities.

  • http://twitter.com/CoachLee Leanne HoaglandSmith

    Valid points. Yet I see the same potential problem in that social selling is in all honesty social buying. When salespeople leverage their talents and attributes to be a better buying partner, they will have greater success. For years many have indeed become buying partners, but this repositioning was always called being a great salesperson and then the focus was directed on specific “sales skills.” Finally there still is much confusion between marketing, selling and the overall sales process since the words are used interchangeably.

  • http://twitter.com/ujjualaditya Aditya Kumar

    That was a nice article, but as I am from the social media, I cannot leave without putting a few points in favour of this new concept and making a few things clear. Let me answer your questions straight away.

    Ques: Would you buy from someone with a great Internet presence if they did not possess the character that is built on a strong foundation of honesty and integrity?
    Ans: How do you figure out if someone has the character. On Linkedin, I would look out for recommendations, recommendations from people that I know personally. Same on all platforms. Just like in the real world, you cannot pitch to a stranger. Just give them a reference and they are ready. Similarly here you have to talk to people who you know about this new guy, whether he can be trusted or not.

    Ques: Do the tools of social selling remove the requirement that you first be trusted?
    Ans: No, certainly not. In fact that’s why Linkedin has that concept of recommendations that I discussed in the above point. In every other platform, you can ask people both of you know mutually about how much can they be trusted.

    Ques: Do the tools of social selling remove your need to possess all the common attributes of successful people, like self-discipline, the ability to listen, the desire to care, and to be a person worth following? Is it possible that they amplify whatever you already are?
    Ans: No. As you said, a bad salesperson cannot be a good salesperson only because he is proficient in the new age tools. Consider this as just another medium, like a telephone for making sales calls. You cannot have an automated calling machine to substitute the sales guy.

    Do the tools eliminate your need to be skilled as a professional salesperson? Will you still need to differentiate yourself? Will you still need business acumen? Are not still going to manage change?
    Ans: A big NO to your first question and a big YES to the others.

    I hope the answers were useful. 

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