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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?

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