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?
Why is starting qualified discussions with customers superseded by sharing valuable content, creating a personal brand and sharing insights on LinkedIn?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:
- It’s much easier to drive interaction.
- 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)
- 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.