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.

Social Selling Success Isn’t Success at All

Successful sales pros are successful because they know how to find, qualify and close sales. They consistently experience success because they are superior researchers, diligent workers and excellent communicators.

By the way, they rock on the phone. Yes, the phone.

Says the “Sales Hunter,” Mark Hunter:

“Recently I was coaching a large national sales team selling to IT departments and we had huge success by integrating the telephone, email, social media and even in-person meetings together. The sales reps who had the most success were the ones that used the telephone the most.”

Mr. Hunter admits there were reps who claimed the phone didn’t work. In fact, they fought it.

“But it was a short fight,” says Mr. Hunter, “because their results were so poor. The phone worked because it was used in conjunction with other prospecting tools.”

Success has less to do with knowing how to use any social or digital tool, and more to do with an effective communications technique.

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator Worth it?

Investing in LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be smart — but only if you have a means to convert the tech tool into business. This requires having an effective prospecting technique.

Sellers I work with are pulling buyers on social. They’re starting conversations with buyers by hunting them, then attracting them to a conversation. They’re plumbing LinkedIn’s database, discovering effective ways to start conversations.

They’re sparking curiosity and starting discussions rather than trying to set meetings.

A recent customer, Dan, emailed me explaining why he was happy to meet me:

“I don’t just want the ‘how to’ of the tool. I want to know what to do with it. LinkedIn can teach you how to use their ‘wrench’ but I want to know which bolts to turn and how, so to speak.”

Smart. Do you see the difference?

Most social selling training courses encourage unproductive behavior. The result is that many sellers are selling “socially” by being as anti-social as you can imagine. They are usually:

  • Automating LinkedIn outreach using software tools LinkedIn prohibits
  • Applying “push” prospecting tactics that have never, ever worked
  • Spamming potential buyers even when they know it’s ineffective and damaging
  • Not learning what does work: “pull” communications tactics

The worst part: If you’re investing in LinkedIn, your company pays a premium to achieve these horrors! Many organizations are spending between $10,000 and $250,000 on Sales Navigator.

All to access the tech tool — while overlooking the what to do with it.

We Are Undervaluing Technique

I think we see many pushing the term “social selling” because they have a product to sell, a tool. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But here’s the issue: price versus true expense. Trade-offs.

That same customer, Dan, also said to me,

“I mentioned to my boss that I’d found some training that I thought would help move us forward with starting conversations that led to appointments on LinkedIn. He was supportive. But I guarantee you he was thinking of something I’d put on my expense report for a couple hundred bucks.”

Are we taking digital seriously enough? Yes. Very seriously, actually. But are we taking the tools more seriously than effective sales technique development?

My students often tell me: “We come to you for the piece LinkedIn doesn’t give us — the communications methodology.”

In fact, I have LinkedIn sales people attending my workshops! They are in search of a better way to start conversations about selling LinkedIn Sales Navigator licenses to large corporations.

As to giving sales new names as it evolves? Well, I don’t see this as a new course in sales operations. I don’t see it this way because everything I experience tells me “back to basics” works on these new digital platforms.

What do you think?

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.

3 thoughts on “Why You Must Stop Believing Social Selling Exists”

  1. Really good review. I agree that many sales people abuse LinkedIn sending unwanted messages with the hope the reader might bite. It’s easy so why not.

  2. The term “social selling,”using the latest social media tools to know more about your customers and prospects so you can be a more informed salesperson, is like Simon Sinek rebranding “vision, mission and values” as “start with why.” Everything old needs to be rebranded to break through the noise. It’s sad, but effective.

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