By Sharon A.M. MacLean
In short, social selling is the sales technique that builds relationships using online media. And, yes, it works.
Canada’s #1 LinkedIn expert Melonie Dodaro recently gathered four dynamic women to shed light on how digital media is monetized for business. The panel topic lured me given the push back I received last week from skeptical business owners. The long-time entrepreneurs had trouble believing that an investment of resources in social media is worth their time or money.
Joining Melanie on the panel monitored by Lynne Serafinn, author of The 7 Graces of Marketing, were Jill Rowley who left Salesforce to train Oracle’s 23,000 salespeople before opening her own firm; Allison Maslon, author of Blast Off! and architect of, at last count, 10 very successful businesses; and Boom! Social author Kim Garst named by Forbes among the top 20 bloggers in the world. Let me put this last point in perspective for you: Tumblr and WordPress alone count over 242 million registered blogs on the planet.
I listened closely to these inspiring thought leaders hosted by Melonie in celebration of her latest release on Amazon, The LinkedIn Code. The subtitle gives you insight to her purpose for the telesummit: Unlock the largest online business social network to get leads, prospects & clients for B2B, professional services and sales & marketing pros.
Jill Rowley started off by saying, “Selling is not a dirty word.” Thank you, Jill. Selling—or influencing—is what we do every day of our lives: We convince our bankers to sign a loan, coax children to clean their rooms, persuade charitable patrons to buy medical equipment for our hospitals. Remember when salespeople walked into an office, grabbed a look around for pictures of kids or spotted golf clubs in the corner before striking up a conversation? The personal observations helped to move relationships along.
Social selling today helps to research prospective clients before any in-person meetings ever take place. The networks tell us something about the client if they have profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. It’s a way to “get to know your contact,” says Kim Garst. She adds that social media enables her to find a connection point with prospects, one that identifies their professional values…shows her how to be useful in a new relationship…and how a moment of inspiration might be triggered.
Melonie backs her up to say, “You should not be selling on social media. Social networks are where you build relationships,” before you take them offline.
This is a common mistake according to all the experts. Too many salespeople are chasing the old practice of ABC or Always Be Closing. The new dictum: Always be Connecting.
People don’t want to do business with online stalkers, says Allison Maslon.
Kumbayah? Nope, says, the business coach. “Such prospecting is more than a naively optimistic view on the world of business.” Rather, the new style moves the prospect up the sales funnel by offering useful information, stating their values up front, and providing added substance through webinars, blogs, and video training.
Prospects want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. This was a phrase repeated many times during the lively dialog.
Here’s 6 more insights from Melonie who trains clients worldwide:
- Commit to providing added value to your clients
- Prepare to create original content as well as curated content
- Strive for quality
- Nurture a community of sharing
- Position yourself as an expert
- Do your best with Google which drives traffic to Melonie’s website more than any other of her marketing endeavours
Business owners want their salespeople to bring in new business. So, what about finding more leads?
Keep an eye out for Part 2 and my next blog on this topic.
Sharon MacLean owned and published a print magazine over 21 years for business people. She was an early adopter in social media and now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients. The communications strategist believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.