It Should Be Called 'Social Helping' Not 'Social Selling'
Tell me the term 'social selling' doesn't conjure up images of a hard- hitting salesman spamming everyone in sight with promotional messaging. Really, if we struck the word 'selling' from this description and replaced it with 'helping', we'd be much better off.
We're all marketers of something, whether it's our own personal brand or a company brand. However, it's no secret that the most successful salespeople are helpers first.
In fact, they're passionate about it. They listen carefully, they ask the right questions, they get to know their prospects as individuals and assist them in their decision-making process. Social just gives us new and varied channels for helping, not simply 'social selling', especially if you establish a good content pipeline.
Social Helping in Action
When I started syndicating my blog and articles on LinkedIn a couple of years ago, I began sharing that content on groups where it would add value. The former CMO of Pitney Bowes happened to be in one of my groups, liked a few of my articles, and subscribed to my newsletter. A few weeks later he sent me an In-mail on LinkedIn, noting that we had connections in common in New York, where he was based, and that he thought my content aligned with his company's needs.
He expressed an interest in what my company provides and asked me to outline my services for him. Note that there was no selling here - no pitching - purely a connection sparked by content sharing.
A week later his head of product marketing (based in San Jose) reached out to us. She came down and met with us about a project that turned into more business as time went on, and we later became personal friends.
From those initial content touchpoints and social connections, Pitney Bowes turned out to be a major client for us, and our face-to-face connection resulted in a lasting friendship.
This kind of content pipeline bears fruit for us all the time now. I don't call this 'selling' because I've never hard-sold anyone, I've helped them, which is the best way to allow that initial connection to evolve into a sale. No social selling necessary.
This story sparked my journey into 'social helping' - I started honing the process to improve the ways the helping resonated with people. How? By determining what content at the top of the funnel would move people to the next level and how we would use it to make it work.
It might seem that building this kind of personal branding takes too much time, especially if you're building it across multiple networks. Keeping track of all those conversations can seem like herding cats, but social CRM tools like Nimble help us manage our connections across channels and not lose track of engagement opportunities.
Keeping the concept of helping in mind, and using social tools to keep track of contacts, engagement opportunities, and goals is the best way to leverage the relationship building power of sharing, which holds so much more value than just 'selling' alone.
This post originally appeared on Bryan Kramer's blog.
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