Freedom is nice. Rigid cold call scripts usually feel claustrophobic and fake, for both you and your prospects, which is one of the biggest reasons that 78 percent of social sellers do much better than their peers. Social sellers are warm and personable, the kind of people you want to do business with, online or offline.
Some people shy away from social selling because there's too much freedom. The lack of hard and fast rules in social selling might make it sound like the Wild West, but there are limits. While you have the freedom to outline your own methods, some actions make it harder to build and nurture the kind of relationships that form the backbone of social selling.
Below are seven behaviors or practices that are deal-breakers for social selling. Abandon all egos, ye who enter here. Read them and sin no more.
1. "I didn't make networking a priority."
Your day is already packed with meetings, travel, administrative work, publishing content, etc. You know networking is important but it's somewhere way down on the priority list. If it's just below "binge watching the new Netflix series," you may have a problem. You need to network relentlessly to cement the links between you and your clients. Did you know that 90 percent of consumers trust their networks over an unknown source, no matter how trustworthy that source might be? It's up to you to become a reliable link in their networks and become the source they trust.
2. "I was boring."
In the past, sales reps tried to be everything to everyone. They could be astonishingly talented actors who took on the characteristics of whoever they were selling to, then switch entirely the next minute. However, you are now a social selling rock star, with billions of potential leads in the pipeline. Your social presence across the networks where you publish should be unique, consistent and compelling. Brand yourself and tell your story through the content you create and curate. People want to buy from people that educate them, not robots.
3. "I shared way too much."
This is actually not a fatal sin, unless you shared something inappropriate. Although nobody wants their newsfeed clogged up with chatter about irrelevant subjects, the majority of sales reps don't share enough of the right information. Remember that social selling is not about sharing blindly, but really listening to people and responding to their needs with practical content. You need to "be where the puck is going to be" by publishing lots of useful content on the networks that matter most to your prospects. Just remember to hold the chatter and use social media's easy design tools to make your online image attractive and valuable.
4. "I ignored questions and comments about my company that didn't apply to me."
With all the responsibilities and demands on your time, it's easy to say, "that's not my table," and move on. Social selling doesn't work that way, however. You are no longer a cog in a giant mechanism. To your contacts, you are now the face and voice of your company. If social listening reveals that a prospect is having a problem, figure out who can help them and broker a warm connection to someone responsible enough to handle it, then follow up to make sure it is resolved. This converts you into a live resource and primes your contacts for further interactions down the road. People never forget who helped them get through a significant roadblock. In one sentence: Help always in all ways.
5. "I never connected with sales prospects on LinkedIn."
Just as there's no magic formula for social selling, there's not one right tool for prospecting. However, when it comes down to the mechanics of social selling, LinkedIn is such a versatile resource that you ignore it at your peril. LinkedIn "allows for subtlety in the prospecting process," giving you deeper insights into what your ideal customers care about and what they need right now.
6. "I didn't do my homework before a sales meeting."
This sin isn't unique to social selling, but its impact is more significant in the social sphere, and can tear down all the relationship-building you've done. Though this can seem like Selling 101, Buyers still say 54 percent of sales reps aren't prepared for their first meeting. Social selling should eliminate that by giving you plenty of lead time to do your homework. With social selling, you're not trying to sell to strangers, you're starting conversations and providing valuable content. You continually accrue new clients by referrals and enhancing your online reputation. In the meantime, do your homework -- use the social selling tools at your disposal.
7. "As a manager, I didn't provide my sales reps with enough resources and support."
Social selling is not intuitive. There's a learning curve and process that needs to happen in order to accomplish long term success. It runs counter to the old world of hard selling techniques. Some sales reps are able to pick it up right away, but for the rest it will take concentrated instruction and ongoing commitment.
Managers need to provide the right training, support and sales tools for everyone on the sales team. Sales reps need to see what effective social selling looks like in the real world. They need a blended learning structure with continuous training and support to incorporate social selling into their daily routines.
So, confess: How many of these deadly sins have you been guilty of? Nobody needs to know as long as you commit to following best practices for the future. Changing your ways can help you blast past quotas, post record revenues and pocket more well-deserved commissions. Rest assured that it's no sin to be financially successful at what you do best.
This blog post originally appeared on The Social Selling Blog, the go-to source of everything social selling.