Sales reps take advantage of social media to the extent that I delete more LinkedIn invitations than I accept. They invite person after person to connect using the same old standard invitation, and then immediately blast sales pitches to anyone who accepts.
This bad behavior is not completely the reps’ fault. Sales leaders recognize that relationships drive sales, yet they measure their teams on the number of connections collected, calls made, and emails sent.
The problem: Just because someone agrees to connect on social media does not make that person a sales lead. Qualified prospects are actually interested in your product or solution. They want and expect to hear from your salespeople. Otherwise, sales reps are merely using social media to cold call, which is both bothersome and unproductive.
Social Selling Isn’t About Selling
That’s why I resonated with Christy Pettey’s Gartner article, “Why Social Selling Should Focus on Engagement, Not the Hard Sell,” which explains why social selling is not selling at all.
“Social anything” is about developing a mutual relationship and requires give and take. When considering whether to establish a relationship, salespeople should ask themselves if they can offer this contact something of value over time, rather than a one-off transaction … Content curation is a great way to start or join conversations. Identifying relevant content, then sharing it when appropriate, provides real value for participants.
As engagement deepens, the opportunity to move toward more of a true selling focus may arise. When it does, it is driven by the engagement and understanding that has developed between the customer and the social seller.
Pettey’s viewpoint—and Gartner has research to back it up—reiterates what I’ve been saying for years: Social media is the place to initiate a conversation, to start a relationship. It’s not a place to sell.
She also quotes Derry Finkeldey, research director at Gartner, who explains how social selling and referrals link. As Finkeldey puts it:
It is natural to ask the customer if there are others they know that would be interested in the discussion. Those connections present new opportunities to prepare, engage and then sell—if appropriate. Best of all, these introductions start from a referral, which usually increases the willingness to connect since a context for engagement has already been established.
Simply put: To convert a stranger into a sales lead, sales reps must first demonstrate their value and build genuine relationships. Then, and only then, do they have any chance of turning connections into prospects.
When The Time Is Right, Call!
My advice for social sellers: Remember to bring your best self to your online interactions—and then take your relationships offline and have real, live conversations. Actually talking to people strengthens connections in a way that just doesn’t happen when we’re looking at screens.
Of course, the best way to get a qualified sales lead is to get a referral introduction from someone that person trusts. When reps have that kind of “in,” they don’t have to mess with social media at all.
Originally posted on nomorecoldcalling.com at http://www.nomorecoldcalling.com/a-social-media-connection-is-not-a-sales-lead/
About the Author:
No More Cold Calling’s founder, Joanne Black, began actively consulting with clients in 1996 when she developed a system based on the premise that building relationships and getting referrals generate sales faster and more cost-effectively than cold-calling. Joanne’s sales, management and training experience spans decades and crosses multiple industries. Her hands-on and no-nonsense approach to the business of sales has made No More Cold Calling a respected and sought-after partner for clients in business-to-business sales.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.