I’ve sat in countless meetings where the subject of social media comes up and right away the negativity comes out. Now, I am in financial services, one of the last major industries to be disrupted by the internet revolution, so I probably hear more negativity than most, but even in other fields, there is this widespread perception that selling through social media (social selling) doesn’t work.
And that is 100% wrong.
The problem isn’t social media, the problem is selling. Selling, telling, pitching, that aggressive, manipulative approach doesn’t work here, it doesn’t work there, it doesn’t work anywhere, as Dr. Seuss might say (sorry, I have three young kids).
Yes, a traditional sales pitch works much better face-to-face than through, say, Facebook. That’s because most people have trouble telling someone no to their face. But the customer is likely to cancel the sale as soon as you leave. If you pitch me, a business owner, someone familiar with how marketing works, I can tell you I won’t buy—and I am a Gen Xer. Now, go try to sell a Millennial. They will see right through you, and they will soon make up 75% of the work force. 75%!
On Facebook, where you don’t have the advantage of person-to-person contact, traditional pitches are even less likely to work. And that means that unless you are selling a brand like Nike or Apple, you have no chance at all.
But when you sell in 2017, you don’t need to pitch, sell or tell. You engage. You ask questions. You share stories. You put yourself in the buyers’ shoes. And you can do that in person, on the phone, or, yes, on social media.
I have seen so many people want to talk about themselves to the buyer. The buyer, I hate to say, does not care. They want to be left alone—unless you are talking about something that interests them. Do that, and they may give you a window to chat. But this still isn’t the time to sell.
This is when you ask questions.
This is when you show genuine interest.
This is when you give credit.
This is when you share ideas.
This is when you offer more ideas.
Eventually, maybe you’ll talk, even meet, if doing so makes sense geographically. You’ll find ways to help each other. There’s a good chance at this point that the other person is going to ask for something, perhaps the very thing you are hoping to sell. If not, then you can go ahead and ask them to buy.
By no means am I saying you should waste countless hours courting someone. Sometimes the whole process can take just a few minutes. Sometimes it takes longer, maybe a few days. Overall, the new way is faster than the old, as well as more effective. The key point is to put your time and energy into making a connection and offering to help. If you’ve got the right product and you’re talking to the right people, you will make the sale.
This is selling in 2017. Yes, I have acquired clients on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Social selling really does work. And even when you don’t gain a client, the connections you make can still be mutually beneficial. By reaching out online, you are contributing. You are staying relevant. And you’re getting better at listening. Keep trying, and eventually, you will get that “yes.”
Social selling is not easy, which is exactly why we are helping our clients through this process. We’re looking at so many new ways to reach out to people. We’re looking at one of the lowest costs of entry the marketing world has ever seen. Why wouldn’t you want to jump on board?