This week I am introducing an incredibly relevant topic, and that, of course, is social selling. To many, social selling sounds like an oxymoron, because when we think about socializing, we do not think about socializing and selling together.

And in fact, when we do think about socializing and selling together, it often comes with a negative connotation like, I don’t want to go to that party or family gathering because Auntie Susie’s going to come and try and pitch to me again and try to get me to go to that group meeting – am I right? That is what we think when we hear about social selling?

We have this idea that we do not want to be schmoozers and do not want to just be out there to constantly push our agenda, but that’s not what social selling is.

As we begin to unpack the topic of social selling, undoubtedly, you’re going to get to a point where you think oh my goodness, this is quite demanding, how am I going to rise to meet the demands of this challenge while still maintaining my sanity?

Blurred Lines

Be prepared for blurred lines – I do not know about you, but I seem to be working much longer hours. Some of us have not had any work at all, and many of us are in different places, but what I am seeing is that there is seems to be a blur between the weekend and the week.

So, increasingly, we can find that working and selling is going to spill over from the weekdays into our weekends, and some of us are doing work outside of our time zones which again, leads to the lines between what our work hours and our relaxing hours are, becoming increasingly blurred.

However, the onus is going to be on us to determine our own boundaries, and to set up our business and our sales process in a way that will allow us to respond to this massive shift.

This movement, shift and massive blurring of the lines is not going to go away, nor should it necessarily go away. So, if it is not going to go away, then those of us who are able to find the best ways of leveraging this shift and of leveraging new technology had better start to embrace it.

The reason social selling is so effective is, it is because its what customers want. And so the sooner we’re able to meet our customers in the place where they are, the greater our success is going to be, and the longer we wait to get there, the more it’s going to take in effort, time investment and financial resources.

I really want to encourage you, if you feel like it is a long road or it is a steep learning curve – you are in good company, because it is.

Resistance is normal

If you feel resistance to all of this. It is normal. Do find someone to talk to if you can – be it a trusted friend, or a business coach – just do not get stuck in resisting this change. The fact is – this is a train that has been coming for a long time, no doubt it has been accelerated by COVID and has produced the need for us to work the way we are working. But be that as it may, it is not going to go away. So, let us make that change sooner rather than later.

Now, before I go into this, I always want to start with a caveat, I don’t always get this right, there may be people that have sent me a Facebook message that I have not responded to. So, I am going to confess that I am finding it overwhelming.

Incoming Leads

There are communications coming to me on LinkedIn, on WhatsApp and Facebook. I’m talking about first contact messages coming to me through people that I don’t necessarily know, and if you have been in sales for a while, you will know that if you want to be successful, you need to make sure you manage the leads you have very well.

Yes, of course, we need high-quality leads, and we are always on at marketing to provide us with those leads. But what we do with those leads and our response time and the relevance of our response is really critical to our ability to develop that relationship to a point where it actually concludes in a transaction or in a sale.

Why do we go straight to WhatsApp?

When there are messages that, I have just confessed that I am not responding to, it does not reflect well on my brand. It is also an opportunity that I may miss, all together. What I do find is, people tend to go straight to WhatsApp, they do not do a telephone call, or try and make contact via email.

For example, if I have a famous person’s contact details and I wanted to get some face time with that famous business, say, the CEO of ABC bank – I have all of his contact details. The way I was schooled I would never dream of sending him a WhatsApp as a first contact. I would first attempt a phone call, then send an email, with a follow-up email and another email, and if I were unsuccessful and I now have nothing to lose, I may resort to a text.

What we are finding now, is that increasingly text and WhatsApp is our first port of call. And while we may find that overwhelming, again, even I have realized that is not going to change.

If you think about social selling as people trying to sell to you in a social setting, while you are trying to relax and they want to do business and you find that annoying, then it’s interesting to note that LinkedIn research states that 78% of social sellers outsell in comparison to competitors who don’t sell on social media platforms.

It is in the Approach

So next week I will be talking about the first contact approach, what do you do on that first connection and what is best practice for that first connection with the client? You do not want to come across as too pushy and going too hard too soon, but you do not to be too vague. How do we get that right?

Here is what we do need to know. Firstly, this is where our customers are, this is where the customers are doing their research, and this is where customers are buying. When you think of social media you think of Facebook, right? (Depending on your age, industry, and your preferences, but for most people it is Facebook.)

Well, there is an interesting little fact that buyers think that selling on Facebook is creepier than selling on any other social network!

So we do think about Facebook, but there are many other channels in terms of social selling and we’re going to be expanding on what those channels are, and what kind of customers, you’re going to find there and what it is that they’re looking for.

Things are virtual

Think about this. You are being introduced to a new prospect or customer to form a professional relationship. Your first contact is digitally, and you now have to develop and nurture that relationship to form genuine rapport and sincere trust, so that you can demonstrate to them your authority and your credibility.

How do you get to demonstrate your trusted advisor skills when the first contact and the only contact you ever have with your customers are digital and you have never seen them except for online?

To add to this, our designer that we’ve been working with for four years, Nicole Barrett, who is originally South African but now lives in Texas, she’s responsible for the brand and the website that you see, we have done incredible work together, we have bonded and debated and disagreed strongly with each other.

We have celebrated and shared an incredible journey over the last four years, I have referred her to countless people and yet we have never met face to face, not once!

We have built a relationship without sitting at a lunch table together or sharing our tastes in music and movies, all the usual things that you used to use to build rapport over.

Yet nothing has changed

In the next few weeks, we are going to unpack, how do you find and develop that relationship, over time, using these social channels – it is completely possible. When you get it right, it can be a great leveraging at the end of the day, it is all about connections.

One of the oldest sales lines in the book Is that people buy from people. It is still true. People buy from people, and they buy from people that they know, and that they like, and that they trust. They buy from people that they believe are not only competent and organized but are also able to deliver the deliverables.

None of that has changed. The psychology of why we buy and how we buy has not changed because people have not changed. You have heard me say this too before and I want to say to you again – please do not be overwhelmed by the technology.

I know that there was a lot of pressure right now, whether you are in South Africa, or you are in the United Kingdom or the USA. There is a lot going on right now, and this could feel like one more thing.

I encourage you to relax and breathe. Human beings are getting bolder in acknowledging what we want and designing the kind of life that we want to participate in. But we have not changed and wanting to like people and trust them and work with people and collaborate has not changed.

The vehicle has changed, but that does not mean that the people and what drives and motivates them has changed. Learning how to show up in those spaces, and that might feel a little bit overwhelming, but give it a little time and soon you’ll be comfortable, and it won’t be a requirement to become somebody that you are not, you can still be who you are and you can succeed in social selling.