Sarah walked into the networking meeting, a bundle of business cards in her slightly sweaty hands. Her new consulting business was only weeks old and she needed to grow, and grow fast. ‘Go and network’ was the advice she kept hearing, so she registered for a local chamber’s mixer.
She walked in and scanned the room. Huddles of people talking, laughing and drinking coffee. She sat down at a table and stayed there. No coffee, no talking. After 15-minutes she stood up and walked out, the bundle of business cards still clutched in her hand.
What Is Social?
Would it be surprising to you to discover that Sarah’s business didn’t last? That without a constant source of new clients she decided to fold her business and go back to corporate America?
The word‘ social’ has take on new meaning in the last few years, especially in business and in sales. Social has become the nickname for various social platforms and our activity on said platforms. It’s like when you ask for a Kleenex- what you’re really asking for is a facial tissue, but no one says that. They say, “Hand a me a Kleenex.”
Let’s remember what social really means (I’m not trotting out dictionary references here): to engage with other people. When I say engage I mean talk, interact. Now, that can be done many ways: in-person, via phone, via text, via email, via virtual call, via direct messaging, via snail mail. In the example above, Sarah was ANTI-social- she was unwilling to engage with other people.
So when you hear the term ‘social selling’ what comes to mind? As you can probably guess by the title, I submit to you that ALL selling is social selling, that it’s not this subcategory or separate methodology, but part of a larger picture of strategies to use when engaging our customers and prospective customers.
Today when we talk about ‘social’ in the sales world we can be tempted to only think about our social media outreaches on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & TikTok.
In fact, there are trainers out there that will say that ‘social’ selling is the ONLY way to reach the ‘modern buyer’ (another phrase we could chase down a rabbit hole defining) and any attempts at ‘old fashion’ techniques won’t be successful. I should know, I used to be one of them!
Here’s what I discovered when I actually slowed down and had conversations with actual sales people that were selling products and solutions in the real world- cold calling was working, InMail was working, email campaigns were working- all in differing levels of success, but they were, nonetheless, working.
This realization brought me to a startling conclusion: we have to be open to use the strategy and tactic that gives us the best possible chance of success with a particular client. For example, utilizing a social media platform to engage a client is great- IF that client uses said platform. Another example played out during the pandemic- trying to cold call companies when no one was at their offices but were working from home.
Think about each and every means available to communicate (be social) with a client or prospect as being a golf club in a golf bag. In a regulation bag there are 14 clubs. The longest is the driver which typically hits the ball the farthest. The shortest club is the putter and is typically used to strike the ball on the green to cause it to roll to the hole with accuracy (unless you’re me and you hit and hope and pray!). The other twelve clubs have different lengths and designs to help move the ball toward the green depending on the situation.
I don’t think anyone would ever hit a golf ball off a tee with a putter. Nor would they use their driver when on the green. The situation determines the club.
And the same goes for how we sell socially to clients and prospects. Each client is unique. Each medium of communication is unique. When we try the ‘one size fits all approach we’ll have limited results. If we treat our clients like individuals I think we stand a better chance of connecting with them and discovering the best way to communicate with them.
Once we determine that, we have to work on strategies and techniques to engage them in conversations, not pitch to them. This has to also be done across mediums and platforms- if you’re like Sarah and are afraid to talk to people, that’s going to hinder your ability to communicate. So much about our communication is based on tone of voice, body language and facial expressions which you’re not able to convey through typed text, no matter how many emojis you use! 😂😀🤣🤪
Which Club Do You Need?
The bottom line is that yes, the environment we now sell in has changed which means we have to change. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that there’s just one silver bullet to fill your pipeline or convert your leads. Engage with your clients across multiple mediums and then find out what way works best for them to both receive information and discuss that information. Then, make sure you’re having a conversation with them to find out more about who they are and what their goals are.
You have a number of clubs to use for different situations you find yourself in. Don’t fall for a one size fits all mentality when it comes to engaging with your current clients and/or prospects!
Do you want to dive deeper into this topic? I invite you to a complimentary coaching session with me where we can peel back your sales goals and how you can better engage with your current clients and your prospects! Click HERE to schedule a time for us to talk!