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Social selling is the practice of engaging potential clients through social platforms. Some of these involve technology and the exchange of information on social media. Others leverage shared experiences, like book clubs, church groups, craft fairs, or any gathering. These exchanges build relationships and camaraderie.

In the midst of the holiday season and each of us is getting inundated with sales ads, direct mailers, TV commercials, radio spots, and just about every method to announce the latest, greatest sale. The goal is, of course, for the retailers to sell more and for us to buy as much as we can. The problem with this goal is that it’s based on one variable…price.

Price is only a consideration when the buyer and seller have no relationship. The buyer can simply go anywhere and get that product or service. When she has the same relationship with every seller, price is all that matters. So, what could possibly be more important than price?

Relationships.

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Building a relationship with customers is absolutely the key to being an effective (and profitable) sales professional. Customers and potential customers have to understand you as a professional, and they must be able to trust you. There are a number of different ways to build relationships with your customers, and social selling should be one of the tools you use regularly.

Why social selling? Social networking is becoming an increasing part of our lives. We communicate online with most of our social circle, even the ones we see face-to-face on a regular basis. Social interaction is a key way to understand what motivates people. Would your customer be more likely to take a meeting or buy from you if they knew you shared a value, tradition, or passion for the same cause?

“Start with Why” author Simon Sinek has a great quote on this. He says, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” It’s a simple, but incredibly accurate thought. When I interviewed for my information security sales career, I said I would be willing to park cars, scrub toilets, travel, and work insane hours. The trade-off was that I wanted to catch bad guys and keep kids safe online. The company, my team and my leadership know that this is my passion and they allow me to pursue these goals.

Your customers operate the same way. They have passions. They have values. When they recognize that what matters to them also matters to you, they begin to build relationships. Price is no longer the single factor that determines the sale.

Using Social to help close business. Social selling accomplishes two things; it helps build interest in the company’s offerings, and it helps to build your brand as a professional. Commonalities with customers and clients help build deeper relationships. People may not cut a check because you posted something witty on Twitter, but they may find out that you both volunteer at a food bank, or that you are both huge fans of The Walking Dead.

Post as a person, not as a bot. If all you do is spew sales at people, then that is how they will view your professional brand. “Social Boom!” author Jeffrey Gitomer says, “people don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.” The decision has to be theirs and not feel forced. That’s another reason that the relationship makes a huge difference. Use the 80/20 rule when posting on social media. Make sure your posts are 80% non-sales and only 20% sales.

A note for the skeptics. Social selling is not a time sink. It’s also not going to replace face-to-face meetings and phone calls. It’s a tool, just like every other tool you have to help generate demand and close deals. Leveraging social media can be a powerful way to increase your knowledge of the industry, learn more about your competition, and improve relationships with your current and potential clients. It’s not the silver bullet to being an effective sales professional, but neither is email, webinars, or any other form of communication.

Make social selling part of your cadence. When people learn what matters to you and why you do what you do every day, you’re no longer just the logo on the golf shirt or the dollar amount on the quote. You’re a person who can relate to them, and one who they can trust.

To your success,
nK

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