While it is still early days, there are some definite ways social media is impacting selling and buying; some of this is good and has helped sellers better understand and meet the needs of buyers, others, well really not worth fostering, and should be nipped in the bud now.
One specific practice brings with it some risk for sellers, especially new younger sellers targeting more mature decision makers, even those active on social media, centers around communicating. Specifically, the real difference between connecting and communicating when it comes to selling. To some degree this is a generational thing, revolving around long formed habits, more specifically it comes down to each group’s view of communication, and expectations from that communication.
On one level it comes down to definition or semantics if you like, many social sellers blur the lines between ‘connecting’ and ‘communicating’, some go further and fail to understand the difference, and completely confuse connecting with actually communicating with potential buyers.
Connection and connecting is important, but it is only a step towards communication. Don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting or basing my statement on the notion that communication needs to be face to face, but it does need to be mutual, interactive and result oriented. The result does not need to be defined in a sale or moving the sale forward, but in delivering an enhancement of the relationship.
For communication to be meaningful, especially between two parties , it does have to be direct, one to one. There can be effective sales communication between an individual and a group, we have all done it on webinars, presentations at conferences, etc.; but again those fall more into the connect category; there still needs to be that one to one that results out of the initial connecting effort.
Part of this tracks the ongoing evolution in sales, blending existing best practices with new evolving and sometimes better practices, a necessary process. Where we run into problems is when the discussion takes the tone of out with the old, in with the new, rather than out with what no longer works, and in with what does, and does better. Where we are now in sales, is that if you throw out the old, you end up throwing many of best potential prospects out too because they are not as tied into the new as you and the “prophets on the new” are.
The best approach is to use social in tandem with other mainstream methods. As someone pointed out, will ‘spray’ your message, allowing it to touch a wider audience, creating a connection, perhaps a curiosity about your message. This initial connection is like a seed that needs to be nurtured to grow fruit. It is very much talking at an audience, not communicating with someone specific. So be prepared to do both, but realize that one will bring you to the point of talking at someone, you still need to take steps, even like a follow up cold call to someone responding to or retweeting one of your tweets, to fully communicate and move the connection to a prospect.
What’s in Your Pipeline?