Social selling is the new sales because it utilizes all the techniques and tools that we’ve always enjoyed as sellers in order to help us build better relationships.
Although nothing will ever replace the face-to-face relationships that sellers have with their clients, social selling is a valuable tool. Today Carson Heady shares what he has learned over a 17-year sales career about prospecting and relationship building and how social selling helps with it.
Social media can help you find the right person to talk to that can help you connect with the right people, get a meeting, and stay top of mind. It’s a great compliment to the business relationships we should already be forming.
Social selling isn’t a replacement for the things we’re already doing. It’s the application of the tools that enable us to get insights or see what customers and their organizations are thinking, doing, and talking about.
When I first started using social selling, I was guilty of blasting a bunch of messages on LinkedIn and pitching people there. I quickly realized that wasn’t social selling.
Social selling equates to brokering relationships but you’re doing it online. It isn’t sending mass emails to people sharing everything that you have to offer.
Salespeople are interested in results, and Carson said that after studying reports about social selling, he has determined that it amounts to standing apart, being unique, and finding a way to differentiate.
Social selling is a very targeted and specific effort to cast a wide wide net to reach maybe 30 people in a single organization in hopes that you’ll land a single meeting. That effort resulted in one of the larger deals in Microsoft.
Carson suggests following business journals and using Sales Navigator to help in your efforts. Following the trades to stay aware of new C-levels that join the organization.
Last year, Carson was the first to the table when a new C-level joined a company he was connected to and now Microsoft is helping to drive change within that organization because of the relationship.
The relationships drive the deals forward, and those relationships wouldn’t exist without the strategic utilization of social selling.
We’re all just trying to do something different. We’re trying to get a response or a meeting by setting ourselves apart from the others who came before us and failed. We aren’t just sitting on the phone reaching out to people.
We have so much technology at our disposal that we have to be careful to be focused and tailor our efforts. If we don’t, we’ll likely suffer from diminishing returns.
Our past approach of “spray and pray” doesn’t work anymore.
You have to embrace the probability of success. In the past, people were willing to send out hundreds of notes with the understanding that they wouldn’t get a whole lot of reception.
If you want to connect with a C-level at an organization, you don’t just go after them. You’ve got to start a few levels below where you’d like to end up. Once you’re able to talk to someone who is receptive, you can use that momentum internally to get in front of the right audience.
But you must be consistent in your approach. Prospecting never ends. You must revisit those prospects.
Not surprisingly, many clients don’t reply immediately like you’d like them to. Be persistent and reach out to the same folks, but change your messaging.
Offer a compelling reason for your prospects to respond.
Be aware, too, that you may catch someone on an off day. The prospect may be sick or he may have missed the email. He may be busy.
Be adaptable with your process. There are a lot of things that we believe are good philosophies as sellers, but when we try them for a bit they don’t work the way they want to. So we discard them. We tweak things a bit and we adapt.
Sometimes we send long elaborate emails in hopes that we’ll get a reply. Truthfully, sometimes we get the best responses from emails with only one sentence. People are busy and they don’t have time to read a 3-paragraph message. If you’re specific and you offer a single task, they can more likely respond.
Emails are not intended to close the sale. It helps you grab attention. Don’t try to sell an enterprise solution within a few sentences of an email.
Trying to sell in an email amounts to skipping steps in the sales process. You’re jumping straight into the second or third date without wining and dining the prospect.
When you’re seeking to connect with multiple people in an organization, your approach will depend on what you’re looking to accomplish. It will also depend on your unique connection to that person.
If you’re searching for a job, don’t reach out with questions about a job or an opportunity within the organization. Instead, try this: “I saw that we have mutual synergies and I’m looking to parlay my experience into your industry. I’d love to sit down for 10 minutes to pick your brain and get some advice.”
Determine your unique connection to that client and then approach using that angle.
When Carson reached out to 30 people in a single organization, he got replies from about 11 of them. Of those responses, he got one response that pointed him to a certain person in the company. He pursued it and landed one of Microsoft’s larger deals.
Your chances of getting a reply are small to begin with. Make sure you put your best foot forward. Reach out to all of the people who have a vested interest in what you’re doing.
Our process exists for a reason. When it goes awry, and when we get overzealous, we skip steps and we put too much information out there initially.
Sometimes your connection can just be to share an article and engage in a real conversation rather than always sending a message about “following up.” You can also share or retweet the other person’s content as a way to engage.
There is no single bullet that fixes all. Be cognizant that there are a lot of tools that exist that will help you succeed.
The sales process is vital, just like it’s vital that we only use social selling to get a meeting.
Stay top of mind so your connections continue to see you. If the prospect knows that he owes you some information, it may stimulate the conversation to continue. It’s a non-threatening way to follow up.
Relationships are everything. If you lead with the goal of adding value you never have to worry about your sales numbers.
“Social Selling Is the New Selling” episode resources
You can connect with Carson on LinkedIn or Twitter, and you can grab a copy of his book, The Birth of a Salesman: The Transformation of Selling in America. You can also check out his blog, The Life and Times of Carson V. Heady.
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