Social Selling May Be Wasting Time

Helping buyers buy is where the action is. The goal of the modern B2B seller is to get into conversations earlier — help buyers get ready to buy, consult with clients, become a trusted source of knowledge, support the decision-making process with expert guidance. So why is facilitating buying conversations not a part of your “social selling” program?

content marketingThe goal of the modern B2B seller is to get into conversations earlier — help buyers get ready to buy, consult with clients, become a trusted source of knowledge, support the decision-making process with expert guidance. So why is facilitating buying conversations not a part of your “social selling” program?

Why is starting qualified discussions with customers superseded by sharing valuable content, creating a personal brand and sharing insights on LinkedIn?

Does ‘Social Selling’ Exist?

I put quotes around “social selling” because it does not exist. When honestly examined, there is nothing new involved … outside of the online context. Listening, engaging, sharing insights: None of these concepts are new to sales.

In fact, they are characteristics of “old school” sales excellence.

Social selling is a term invented to sell (oddly) marketing concepts. The thrust of social selling is encouraging sellers (hunters) to behave like marketers (farmers).

Post, share, comment, repeat. If that sounds a lot like marketing it is!

Is farming effective at generating new client conversations? Is pushing content, liking, sharing, commenting effective at keeping sellers emotionally confident, mentally tough?

Is Social Selling Weakening Your Hunters?

Social selling isn’t truly representative of anything new … and de-values vitally important practices. Specifically, prospecting. Hunting.

Worse, I’m seeing social selling increasing frustration of otherwise challenged sellers. I’m seeing it have negative impact on motivation and focus. Social selling programs also reward relatively ineffective behavior patterns. LinkedIn itself rewards activity and encourages gamification of it Social Selling Index.

This can be poisonous to rep productivity.

How Social Selling May Be Wasting Your Reps’ Time

Driving interest on social requires different skills as compared to driving interaction, says Mark McInnes of Sydney-based Sales ITV. Most of what reps engage in these days on social wastes time.

Creating a client interested in you, your products or service is difficult compared to creating interaction with them. McInnes lays out a compelling argument against traditional social selling training:

  1. It’s much easier to drive interaction.
  2. Interaction is rewarded with dopamine blasts from your brain, fueling a desire for more of the same activity. Lots of likes or views make you feel good. (Just like the lights of a slot machine do)
  3. The quality of your sellers’ network needs to reflect the desires of your business objectives; most sellers’ network simply doesn’t.

“What exactly are you going to do with these 142 Likes, 53 Comments and no doubt 3000+ views? Nothing. Because they are absolutely worthless,” says McInnes, who boldly proclaims this is interaction, not interest.

Here’s the danger: Sellers see these view counts, “as positive reinforcement of their ‘social selling’ activity. As they inevitably look to drive more views through content, they stray away from the main message, more towards focusing on the level of interactions,” says McInnes.

Thus, “with each post, they strive for more views, more likes, all in an attempt to validate (justify) the time they’ve wasted on social. No wonder so many of senior managers seem to be ‘allergic’ to social selling programs.”

Tune in next week as I share the one tactic social selling training programs don’t teach, to provide further food for thought about social selling.

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

9 thoughts on “Social Selling May Be Wasting Time”

    1. Really, you’re looking for “social proof”. Meaning showing your customers that they aren’t alone. You wouldn’t notice the musician playing on the street, unless there’s a crowd.

      That’s truly the only benefit of hitting those vanity metrics & it must be used carefully.

    2. Sorry, Bart. I offered a lot of thoughts. Not sure what you’re asking here. What about what? B2C with social is relatively the same. You can chase metrics that don’t matter — or you can use a communications methodology (eg. copywriting) to drive actions/outcomes that serve seller & reader.

  1. I agree with the premise and that generating interest is a FAR more difficult process than getting clicks or likes. I think the article falls a bit short though in stating something so “anti-social,” but not recommending ways to do tackle it more productively with better results for hunters.

    1. It’s mainly just simple shifts. From choosing the proven formats of your posts to peppering subtle (and not so subtle) direction.

      Women’s Health Magazine does an amazing job at this that would be interesting for you to study.. check out this post of there’s here and tell me this isn’t an ad (check the url) but it’s entirely disguised. —> notice how they relate with their audience from the beginning & drive the benefits.

      You should also note: This is content FOR the buyer on the edge, but this is also the smallest sector of the market.

    2. Hi, Julie. I have an entire business built to help with that (for free and paid)… but also give away TONS here in my other posts — that are actionable. The first step toward taking action is to break away from popular thinking on this. Seems to me. I’m allowed to argue right? And tease (the next part which might address you directly)

  2. Awesome post. It’s so, dangerously, easy to get lost in what doesn’t matter. Really stemming from caring what people think. And it’s interesting to think how many promotions even ‘I’ have glossed over, and dismissed due to the lack of “social proofing”… I think I’ll even be revamping a “Go Viral” course of mine to include this warning and clearly explain the difference.

    Vanity metrics are good for the soul, but so is waking up to enjoy ocean views, travelling & the greater things that come from being able to AFFORD to do so.

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