Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Rethinking Social Selling, Part 1

May 24, 2014

Still skeptical about the effectiveness of social media in sales? You’re not alone. Here’s a look at some contrarian thinking on the issue.

I’ve talked a lot about “social selling” in this blog. And I do believe that social media can play a role in your overall sales and marketing strategy.

But I hope I haven’t – and I don’t think I have – encouraged you to plunge an excessive amount of time and other resources into it. I think it’s a useful tool. Online communications, done well, can clearly help you generate leads, nurture relationships with customers,publish useful information about products and services, and process sales transactions.

But my title is not VP Social Selling. I’ve been a sales manager for over two decades, and in that time, I’ve used a wide variety of tools. Social media is the latest one, and it’s become a highly-visible part of our society.

Not a Panacea

But it’s not the answer to all of our professional challenges. To see it as even a significant part of your sales strategy means that you’re not using your other skills and resources diligently enough. You still need to work your CRM software religiously. Get out and meet prospects and customers in person. Use email in a smart, focused fashion. Make phone calls, send handwritten notes, search for leads using any of numerous methods – you know the drill.

ImageI started thinking about all of this for two reasons. First, I always get a little uneasy when I hear intelligent people promoting the view that a massive network of computer servers connected to desktop PCs and mobile devices has changed anything about the nature of human relationships and the core philosophies that we embrace as salespeople.

Over 15 million copies of How to Win Friends and Influence People have been sold since it was published in 1937. Go to a sales seminar or read a sales how-to book in 2014 and you’ll often see echoes of Dale Carnegie presented as some kind of revolutionary new theory.

The Other Side

Second, two books I read recently both affirmed some things I’ve always thought and made me re-think other elements of my own social selling strategy. I wanted to share some of the thinking from both of them with you to balance the posts I’ve written promoting the use of social media in your sales and marketing efforts.

I still think that you should use social media. We can’t ignore the potential of blogs and Twitter and LinkedIn. But if you’ve hesitated to invest a lot of time and resources in social media, or if you feel like you’re doing too much with too little return, I want to introduce some of the other, just-as-credible voices that are providing commentary on the effectiveness of social media in business.

Here they are. One is an e-book called Hazardous to Your Social Media Health: 50 Previously Condoned Behaviors We No Longer Recommend that you can download free of charge here. It was written by David Sparks of Spark Media Solutions; it’s based on the wisdom of 56 industry “influencers” (more on that word in my next column).

The other is available for a few dollars on Amazon. Its title is Social Media is Bu****it, and its content isn’t as one-sided as it sounds. I agreed with some points and felt that others were not as black-and-white as the author contended.

I’ll highlight some of the thinking in these two books next week. And I’ll be very interested to hear what you think.


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