Social Selling

What is social selling, and how does it connect with selling value?

Human beings are social animals and we’ve been around for about a million years, so the cynic might call the idea that social selling is new a joke.  All selling is “social," and always has been, right?  Let’s define what we mean then.  Social selling is using process and technology associated with sharing connections and data, to sell better.  
Many of us might naturally jump to the conclusion that social selling simply means using social networks – like Facebook or LinkedIn – to connect with potential customers.  But that would be much too narrow a view.  It can’t just be about filling the lead funnel.  I recently met Dominique Levin who wrote a great blog post breaking down the various areas of social selling, and highlighting many new start-ups in this area  What’s interesting to me is how little – still – is focused on the actual complex selling effort itself.  The part after a connection is made to, and some form of interest is expressed by, a prospect.  This is also the point, coincidentally, where value selling comes in.  Or at least it should.  So how might we use some of the ideas of social selling to help us sell value?  And why even bother?

So you - the customer, and I - the vendor are now connected.  There’s a level of comfort, context, and even rapport that exists because we ostensibly share a “network.”  That’s good.  No doubt about it.  But am I really any closer to knowing what you’re focused on?  What business initiatives are top of mind?  What metrics you’re aiming to improve (AND metrics that overlap those my solution can improve)?  If I’m in an expensive complex sale the need to understand that hasn’t gone away.  Yeah, maybe a prospect blogs and tweets about all this stuff to the world, but probably not.  How can social selling help me with this piece then?

I need a way to easily bring together Business Drivers, Metrics, Benchmarks, and Improvements.  A social platform, based on connecting buyers and sellers and crowdsourced data, would make everyone’s life easier – and more effective.  In other words, while the well known social networks can do a great job connecting people, they aren’t built to connect this kind of “corporate” data.  Specific data relevant to “problems” and “solutions.”  The good news is because we were connected “socially” you’re probably more ready to share key information about what you’re trying to accomplish and why.  Whatever allows me to take advantage of my connections in order to learn about, align, and quantify my value is going to improve key sales metrics every leader cares about.  Things like conversion rates, ASP, and Sales Cycle Times.  If I can apply social technologies that help automate this process for the prospect and me, we're way ahead.

The champion needs this for internal selling.  The Sales Rep needs it to help propel the sale.  And we both need this to set the stage for the entire buying/selling engagement.  Social selling has to do more than connect me.  It has to help me sell value.

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