Social Selling is for Everyone

By Kevin Hurley in Social Selling

Social selling has been one of the hottest topics within the marketing and sales world as these teams work together to create a well oiled, cohesive machine. If you’ve been following the top sources that cover social selling, you’ll notice one thing…it’s all about “selling”. When a new trend in the social world has any word related to “sales” in it, we immediately see a backlash.

I suppose this isn’t much of a surprise, however I’d like to think that social selling is a smaller component of a larger trend that is highly overdue. Look back to when social networking was actually about “networking” with like minded people. What ever happened to those days?

After a quick search on Google Trends, it’s immediately clear that there’s a growing trend around “social selling” as searches increase and headlines continue to drive interest.

 

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(Source: Google Trends, “Social Selling”)

It’s Time for a Change

The time has come in our overly connected world to put the human touch back into social networking and there’s much to be learned from this new world of social selling to guide the way. I strongly believe that if we don’t pivot the direction of digital communications soon, we will continue to feed the beast of “reach” over “engagement” or “connections” over “relationships”.

The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection. – Robin S. Sharma

It’s no mystery that the world’s most successful leaders are also incredibly effective networkers. You too can learn how to grow the right relationships and build a powerful network by leveraging social media. There’s no excuses anymore. We all have access to the same tools that allow us to reach people that would have otherwise been impossible in the physical world.

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Social Selling is About Listening

One common pillar of social selling is listening. In the digital world, listening revolves around your ability to follow news, blog posts, individual updates, social trends and more as it relates to your network, passion, or professional background.

You’ll notice social selling pros have become experts at filtering out the noise while extracting incredibly valuable information that’s both timely and relevant to their contacts, on an individual basis. When getting started, it’s best to start off simple and follow content like personal and company mentions which are usually the easiest ways to spark a conversation with someone new.

This takes time to learn and requires a systematic approach to ensure you never miss a beat. If you can imagine the waves of information flooding the web each day, it can be a challenge to do this manually. Don’t be overwhelmed, there are tools available to help you with this process and the more you develop this skill set, the more valuable you will become to your network. The world is giving you reasons to reach out, just listen and take action when the time is right.

 

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Social Selling Forces You to Give

So you have found a way to filter content thats interesting to you and your network, but before you have time to react, it’s no longer relevant. A an infographic by MBAOnline back in 2012 indicated that 2 million blog posts hit the web every 24 hours and today that number easily climbs to over 3 million – you can actually count the posts in real time at WorldOMeters.com.

This is why social selling forces you to share timely and relevant content to your connections before it becomes stale. The best time to share content is typically as soon as the news hits the web so that you’re recognized as someone with their finger on the pulse. Think about it, wouldn’t you love if someone shared an update about your industry before you saw it hit your news feed? Wouldn’t you feel delighted that someone took the time to help you out?

The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity. – Keith Ferrazzi

This is a trend that I would love to see catch on outside of the sales world as it puts a human interaction back into the aspect of sharing. Top social selling professionals know how to leverage the right content, at the right time, to the right people. Imagine the network effect of doing this gesture 3-5 times a year with contacts you want to build stronger relationships with.

 

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Social Selling Encourages Authenticity

You’ve followed the path of a successful social seller to filter out the noise and hand pick content that your network will love. As you sit down to share that awesome piece of content, you notice yourself composing a message that sounds like something your grandmother would write. Why do we all seem to loose our sense of personality when we write emails to someone new?

Let’s face it, we all have bad days and when starting this process you may be a little rusty. But as you connect with more people, you’ll begin to learn what types of messages get a response. The more consistent you are with your own voice online, the better your chances are to building authentic relationships.

If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you. – Zig Ziglar

Social selling encourages you to be authentic across all of your digital communications channels. You should be using the same voice on Twitter, LinkedIn and in emails. Although you may need to tighten messages up on social, being authentic is the only way you’ll grow trusted relationships. Be the voice you feel comfortable sharing with the world!

 

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Social Selling Builds Your Personal Brand

Personal branding was a hot topic when social media hit the mainstream and was adopted across the greater population back in 2009. Again, I love using Google Trends because it sheds light on the larger search trends of the internet which may be often overlooked. It’s interesting to see that “personal branding” hit the highest point in 2009 and is now just starting to see some action again. There’s a reason for this.

 

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(Source: Google Trends, “Personal Branding”)

Personal branding goes hand-in-hand with social selling. Think about it this way, you are your own brand (you know the cliche) and as a salesperson in 2015 you must build your reputation among the industry you’re trying to reach. That said, nearly every single professional already knows the power of having a personal brand. In a world filled with profile pictures and standard bios, your personal brand must stand out.

“I actually think every individual is now an entrepreneur, whether they recognize it or not”.  – Reid Hoffman

I love that social selling emphasis the importance of having a personal brand because we are all marketers, we are all selling something…opinions, lifestyles, brands, services etc. There’s a ridiculous amount of services and tools available to help you build your personal brand such as a website, social media, branded profiles, content creation and many others. If you want to be heard online, you need to have a recognizable personal brand, no matter what you want to share with the world.

The Future Gets Personal

These are only a few of the reasons social selling is so important for everyone. If you don’t see how these characteristics are relevant to your profession at this point, there may be no hope. I’m only kidding. As an avid social media user, I’ve experience the benefits of being online, connecting with the right people and making a voice for myself. It’s great to be able to share this information as I believe it can have an enormous impact on both your personal and professional success. As we move forward in a digitally driven world, I hope that you start to see how important it is to grow the right relationships to ensure you have a powerful network of “strong relationships” and not just “many connections”.

Which elements of social selling do you think are most important to building a powerful network of strong relationships? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Kevin Hurley
Director of Marketing