There is so much being tweeted, blogged and shared about social selling right now that I have great sympathy for those organizations who are tying to figure out how, when and if they should make the transition. Like any approach to selling it is never “one-size fits all” and those of us who contribute to the debate on social selling are doing a disservice if we create the impression that you simply have to start getting connected, sharing information and engaging in conversations and it will all flow from there. If that impression is propagated then there is an inherent danger that social selling becomes synonymous with social SPAM.
Traditionally there has always been a significant section of those in sales who advocate that it is all a numbers game, that higher levels of activity according to the law of percentages will result in better quota performance. This has often been codified and institutionalized within organizations where pipeline management practices are based on some essentially arbitrary multiplier of the target being used as a barometer for the health of the business. So as you can see we have an ingrained sales culture that celebrates more is more. Now as we all know conventional wisdom is a dangerous thing and the reality is that the best performing sales organizations actually operate with a less is more strategy where opportunities are rigorously qualified and pipelines routinely scrubbed. This approach, however, requires a significant level of discipline, focus, and proactive management.
It is far too easy for social selling to fall into the numbers game trap and indeed social platforms and tools make it a very seductive proposition. Think about all those connection requests you can send out and all it takes is a nanosecond to hit that “Connect” button or what about InMail? Think of the people you can reach without even knowing the other person’s actual business email! Or even how easy it is to increase your visibility by non-stop tweeting and constant sharing. Let’s face it, this is the numbers game on steroids! But just like steroid use in real life, you can get big quick but it doesn’t mean the rest of the world likes what it sees. So just like the best sales organizations take a less is more approach, I would advocate you do the same with social selling and approach it with discipline and purpose.
The first step is to talk to your customers and find out how their buying process has evolved and how they would like their buying process to be enabled by sellers. Ask them what information they value and how they like to consume it. Next reassess your sales process and see if it supports their buying process and if not, adjust it immediately.
Secondly make sure you have clearly defined your target buyer(s) and influencers and make sure that your sales people focus their social engagement activities on finding them, understanding their needs and earning the right to engage with them in a value-creating way.
Thirdly make sure your sales people contextualize anything they share with prospective buyers or the communities they frequent. Have them add value to it rather than simply curate content by infusing it with some of their own unique insight.
And remember, above all turn the numbers game on its head and go for quality over quantity and as a result you will immediately increase your likelihood of becoming a successful social seller and reduce your chances of becoming a social SPAMMER.