Subscribe
    Subscribe to The Art & Science of Complex Sales

    You call it “social selling” - but is it really?

    New Call-to-action

    What is social selling, really? The term has been around a while but if you Google the definition, you will get a different answer on every site that pops up.

    Some sites say that social selling is the practice of developing relationships with potential customers through platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Some say that it’s using a brand’s social channels to “connect” with potential customers. Salesforce calls it a “lead generation technique” in which salespeople interact with their prospects online.

    If you look up the history of social selling, you’ll find plenty of blogs talking about how social selling existed before the Internet. Pre-Internet, “social selling” meant doing more than just picking up the phone to call prospects. It meant building relationships and showing up to socialize at networking events and so forth.

    Personally, I never heard it called “social selling” until the advent of LinkedIn and other online social networking platforms. Now it is widely applied to refer to any interaction that companies or salespeople have online in spaces where their prospects may exist.

    And, I would argue, it’s not really selling.

    Why social selling isn’t actually selling

    Not too long ago, I joined a social selling group run by a training company. The group is designed to help businesspeople, from CEOs to marketing assistants, how to use social selling to drive sales via LinkedIn.

    In attending one of the workshops, what struck me was that the way many members interpreted “social selling” isn’t actually selling. Very often, there’s an assumption that if you are active and engaged with prospects on LinkedIn, this activity will naturally generate sales.

    That’s a dangerous assumption.

    Most of what companies and salespeople do on LinkedIn is more accurately classified as marketing, not sales. In marketing, you create content, you provide value, you create visibility for your brand, you get people to engage with your content, you show the market that you are an expert in your area. All of that is good and important.

    And if you’re lucky, someone will reach out and ask to buy whatever you’re selling.

    But that’s not sales.

    Producing good content does not automatically get people knocking down your door.

    What I see happening in this world of social selling, is that people seek to become good at marketing, expecting sales to take care of itself, without actually engaging in the craft of sales. They put out content, engage with readers, comment on other people’s content, show videos and photos, and build followings.

    But are they actually converting all that activity to sales?

    There’s a gap between social marketing and actually making sales

    Social awareness, social branding, social marketing - these are all things we have learned to do - some better than others. But they’re not actually social selling, even though we call it that.

    Producing good content does not automatically get people knocking down your door. Especially not today, when the market is absolutely saturated with content.

    It’s only social selling if you can close the gap between awareness and purchase.

    Social marketing may be opening doors. I certainly engage in plenty of it myself - this blog is an example. I produce this content and share it on social platforms, in part, to connect with the people who may be good partners, customers, team members, and promoters of my company’s product.

    But once the door is open, we have to have the process, skills, and systems to help folks to want to buy from us to improve their lives. That’s sales.

    So, when you take a look at your team’s “social selling” - what are you doing to help your salespeople move from “awareness” to active prospecting and sales? Do you have systems and processes in place to turn all that content and engagement into buyers and partners?

    Do your salespeople have the skills to execute on your process?

    Is your social selling actually selling?

    Subscribe
    George Brontén
    Published June 1, 2022
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn