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Why is starting qualified discussions with customers superseded by sharing valuable content, creating a personal brand and sharing insights on LinkedIn?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

Why You Must Stop Believing Social Selling Exists

“You need this revolutionary new social selling now or you’ll be left behind. What? You don’t know how to use [insert new technology] to zoom sales? Buy my book, attend my keynote. I’ll show you the way forward!” Revolution they cry! Problem is, the sales revolution they’re selling is marketing — broadcasting on an interactive platform, the Internet. There is no revolution, only evolution.

Who Moved the Sales? Why marketing attribution is so crucial to track, yet so hard to doSocial selling does not exist. Believing it does trains you and your sales force to fail.

Sure, LinkedIn and countless self-appointed “social selling experts” say social selling is a wave — catch it.

But have you noticed their tone lately? Many of these folks talk down to you.

“You are not doing it right, you are not taking it seriously enough.”

Or perhaps more accurately:

“You need this revolutionary new social selling now or you’ll be left behind. What? You don’t know how to use [insert new technology] to zoom sales? Buy my book, attend my keynote. I’ll show you the way forward!”

Revolution they cry!

Problem is, the sales revolution they’re selling is marketing — broadcasting on an interactive platform, the Internet.

There is no revolution, only evolution. Believing there is a new selling paradigm risks your team’s ability to adapt.

Are you willing to risk it? Are you risking it right now?

We Should not Name This a “New” Strategy

There is nothing new about sales — other than customers having better access to information, more quickly and easily. There is no need to invent a fancy new name for sales as it evolves.

“But Jeff, you’re wrong: Giving this new strategy a name could help explain this new skill set in sales operations internally, to management. Especially if the company is still a bit behind in evolution when it comes to sales approach.”

But are you behind? Behind in what? Knowledge of how to work the tool?

Working a new tool like LinkedIn or Twitter is not making anyone successful — despite the marketing claims of companies and expert gurus who have a stake in the game.

Using the term “social selling” is, so far, most helpful to those selling tool-focused education or rah-rah cheerleading fodder themselves. These are the instant experts whose qualifications rest on “I use LinkedIn a lot.”

Literally anyone can be a part of this club.

Here’s my beef with this situation: In the end, I’m witnessing less emphasis on sales techniques that work for sellers, and more emphasis on how to use tools.

I suspect this is because the people involved don’t have (or practice) good, traditional sales skills!

The result: A lot of sales people practicing marketing on LinkedIn. Farming with it. And failing to start conversations. They’re pushing posts, updates, comments, etc.