The question came to my mind after reading a few articles that are out there on the topic of this new sales trend we call #SocialSelling. Is this methodology so new or revolutionary as to spring a whole new way of doing business? Ask anyone at LinkedIn and they will say “Yeah! Absolutely!” in a heartbeat. Ask anyone else and they’ll take at least 1 full second before answering. Some, like me, will stop to think and then echo LinkedIners. And there’s a why to that.
I had to stop for more than 1 second to answer that question, to be honest. I’ve been in sales for the better part of my professional life. I know how to sell, and I happen to know how to market too. I’ve always loved doing demand generation as well. What’s there that’s so new or that I was doing so wrong, that #SocialSelling could come and fix for me? It just didn’t sound right.
Luckily for me, I had Liam McLaughlin, current Head of Customer Success at LinkedIn Ireland right in front of me. I made my case to him and he listened carefully, took each one of my points in, he paid attention, put his thoughts in order and answered as precisely as he could: you need to try and see it for yourself.
It’s been around 2 years since then and I’ve had more than enough time to check for myself, compare my past experience to my new ones and get to a conclusion, which was something like this:
#SocialSelling will burn a whole in my sales numbers. It’s that hot.
Of course, the statement is biased and utterly subjective, but it’s coming from a person who has spent the past 2 years learning and collecting data. Instead of writing a whitepaper with my findings, I’ll give you this: if you are in sales, you are already equipped to start doing #SocialSelling. The reason is very simple: the four pillars on which LinkedIn has built the whole concept are already part of your day-to-day life as a sales person! Here, let’s take a look:
In a nutshell, this is about how good your LinkedIn profile looks. The simple truth behind it is something that you as a sales rep already know by heart: your credibility starts, the same as with food, with how you look. It has nothing to do with “your looks” in terms of beauty as a concept. It has to do with how you construct your “sales-self”, or your “sales-persona” if you will.
Let’s put it this way: who would you, as a buyer, buy from? A person that looks nervous, maybe a bit doubtful and not very sure of himself/herself? Wouldn’t you rather buy from someone that irradiates confidence, knowledge, and patience? You learn this simple concept quite early in your career in sales: you are your own brand. Your customers are not buying from the Company you work from but from you, and you want to keep it that way.
This one takes more practice as a sales person, but anyway, what LinkedIn really means is: find and connect to the right people. This is about prospecting, finding leads and converting them into real sales opportunities. It all starts with this simple concept: you need to a) know who you’ll be selling to and b) how to find them. It’s not just about knowing the “buying persona” or who the decision maker is for any given deal. It has more to do with connecting to them and building your little black book, you know the one: where you write down the name of those contacts you brought to the company or the ones you want to keep to yourself. Finding them means you’re paying attention to what you are finding and learning from it. Isn’t that what basic prospecting is all about?
If you’ve been in sales long enough you know for a fact that a salesperson that doesn’t know what he or she sells or who they are supposed to be selling to will quickly become, well, not a salesperson anymore. This pillar LinkedIn is referring to is simple enough: know your stuff, know your customer and most importantly, share. How will you become that telltale “trusted advisor” if you can’t be trusted, if you don’t know your customer’s business? Would you buy a car from a salesman that says he would rather ride a bike? Or from a person that instead of asking why you want the car and what for decides to push you into buying what they want you to buy? Customers want to be acknowledged and a great way of doing it is sharing with them.
Ah, the dessert and the cherry on top. We don’t need LinkedIn to tell us that building relationships is to sales what chopping onions is to cooking: a skill you must learn. If you are asking yourself why, you are probably not too far into sales yet or what you sell does not require that you connect and get to know your customers. If you have been around long enough you know that sometimes a cliché says it all: people buy from people, and people like to know who they are buying from. The more you connect with them, the more you can potentially sell to them. It does make sense, doesn’t it?
There’s a lot more to say about this but before I get deeper into it let me close this post with an acknowledgement: #SocialSelling is not just hot, it makes perfect sense because it is based on what I already knew and it offers me a way of doing it better and faster than I ever did. There. I said it.