“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
That’s Mark Twain describing our all-too-human tendency to cling to ideas that aren’t true. Don’t get me wrong – I’m as guilty as the next person. We all hold a few limiting beliefs. Some of the social selling myths listed below tripped me up for quite awhile. One of them still puzzles me.
But none of them are true. And so the sooner you – and I – can stop telling ourselves social selling is hard, or takes a lot of time, or requires an advanced degree, the sooner we’ll just get on with it. Perhaps, eventually … we’ll change our minds for good.
1. Social selling takes a lot of time.
Hours and hours, right? Maybe not. Melonie Dodaro of Top Dog Social Media broke out how to do social selling in 30 minutes with this handy infographic:
Want to save even more time? Kick your LinkedIn search skills up a notch. Zapier has a nice article on exactly how to do that.
The key here is to remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. Having a social presence takes time. Having a lot of connections takes time. You didn’t go home after your first week of work with a full Rolodex, did you? So don’t expect that to happen on social media.
2. You have to know a lot about social media to get started – or to be successful with it.
I have bad news. You’re never going to know all the details, tricks, and ninja moves of social selling. Neither am I.
Know why? Because there’s too much to know. And it changes weekly. And you still have a full-time job.
Social media is so vast and fast that there are people who don’t just specialize in one platform anymore. They specialize in one aspect of one platform – like Facebook advertising, or LinkedIn groups. And even these experts, who are super-smart people working 60+ hours a week, can barely keep up.
So please, if you’ve been studying social media, thinking you’ll get it all figured out before you jump in, please stop. Or actually … please start. Start by:
- Set up your profile pages on the major platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). They don’t have to be perfect. Just get them good enough. You can go back and refine them later.
- Next, reach out to all the people you actually know. Like clients. Coworkers. Industry friends. These folks are basically your social media base. They’re the best people to connect with, and they’re also the most likely people to help you.
- Once you’ve got that down, start sharing really great, useful content. Mix it up: About half from your company and about half from industry resources.
By the time you get that far, you’ll have picked up some tricks and inadvertently made a few new connections. Your confidence will be stronger, and you’ll be able to learn stuff that’s actually useful rather than getting lost in the weeds.
At that point, if you want to know how advanced your social selling is, check out LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI). It will give you a score of how you’re doing on that platform.
The tool breaks your activity out into several categories. It even shows what you need to do to improve. So there’s the fourth thing to do: Follow that tool’s advice for how to improve.
Still want more? Read Jill Konrath’s fantastic blog, and check out our eBook, 10 Things B2B Companies Should Be Doing on LinkedIn.
3. It’s all about the data.
Worried your skills as a walking, talking salesperson have become passé? Not in the least. Couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, we need your human, eye-to-eye connection skills more than ever before.
Social media will never replace a good salesperson. All those platforms – all those analysis tools – they’re just tools. They need a human touch.
Don’t ever be intimidated by social media, or worry that your skills aren’t worth much anymore. They’re as valuable as ever. In fact, as a good salesperson, we need you – the whole industry needs you – to learn the rudiments of these new tools, and wield them according to the skills and judgment you already have. Human connection will never go out of style.
4. You can automate most of it.
Yes, you can automate social media posts. And you can automate part of a lead nurturing system. But some things still need a human touch. Don’t send out automated direct messages to people. It will only alienate them. Boilerplate Direct Messages on Twitter and InMails on LinkedIn don’t do anyone any favors.
Automated messages like that make the sender seem inauthentic. They make the recipient feel like they’ve been spammed. (And they’re right.) It immediately spoils the value of the connection. It’s also a message – loud and clear – to the recipient: This salesperson is just churning out messages, and has nothing to offer you. You’re just a number to them.
Now, that doesn’t mean all direct messages on Twitter are bad. It doesn’t mean you should never send InMails, or reach out to your new contacts. Just customize it a bit.
Consider applying the “3×3 formula” to your social media communications – the same way you’d apply it before you make a call.
The gist of this is to find three commonalities between you and the person you’re communicating with. Maybe you know some of the same people. Maybe you’ve got a report or study that directly relates to their business. Whatever it is, find out what those connections are. Apply them to the message you send to your prospect.
There’s another play on the 3×3 formula. It’s simply to do three minutes of research about someone and their company before you send them a message. Whether it’s an email, a Twitter DM or a message on LinkedIn, just take a look at their company website, check out their Twitter feed, or see what they’ve been up to on LinkedIn. Then weave something from that research into your message.
This makes it personal, and will put you far ahead of your competition. So far ahead, in fact, that even if you come off a bit awkward, or you mess on in some small way, you’ll still be way ahead. Your prospect will see somebody actually cared enough to get to know them before they shot off a message.
5. People share content via social media most.
There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of articles about how and why people share content online. The vast majority of them are focused on sharing via social platforms.
There’s nothing wrong with this – plenty of content gets shared via social media. And getting people to share your content is one of the goals of most social media campaigns.
But it misses the big driver in online sharing: Email.
Yup. Humble old email. Ends up, more content gets shared via email than via social media. This is particularly true in B2B.
“Prove it,” you say? Sure. Here’s data from Rumble’s 2014 Mobile Content Engagement Study that shows email is far more widely used than Facebook or Twitter. And this is on mobile devices, where both Facebook and Twitter are very strong.
This idea tips us into the freaky world of “dark social”, namely all the ways people share content that aren’t trackable. Email is a big chunk of this type of sharing, but so are word of mouth, forums, and more.
Ends up, dark social is kinda like dark matter: There’s way more of it than you would think. This graphic based on RadiumOne’s whitepaper, The Light and Dark of Social Sharing, sheds some light on the matter.
6. You can stick with cold calling and still be okay.
Sales is just a numbers game, right? And even though cold calling has been measured as being 97% ineffective, that still means it’s 3% effective. So what if you have to make thirty-three phone calls to reach a client? Just work harder.
While it is true you might be able to just work harder to maintain your current sales level, this isn’t a long-term strategy. There are two reasons why:
- Ever-rising sales quotas.
Anyone in sales has a really thorny problem: Doing as well as they did last year isn’t good enough. Every year, the bar gets higher. For some of them, the consequences of missing that bar get higher too.
This means every year – somehow, some way – they have to produce more. What worked in the past may not work in the future … or even for this year.
Ever heard the joke about the two campers and the bear? It’s not entirely funny, but it reflects a lot about how competitive sales can be.
Here’s the joke: Two guys are out camping. In the middle of the night, an angry, hungry bear crashes into their tent and starts pawing to get in. One guy starts putting on his running shoes. The other guy asks him, “Why are you putting on your running shoes? You can’t outrun a bear.” The other guy says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”
Aside from terrible choice in camping partners, this illustrates the problem of sticking with old and increasingly ineffective sales techniques. Whether the bear is your quota or your competition, you’re gonna need good shoes.
7. Social selling is all about LinkedIn.
When we think social selling, most of us think B2B. And that’s generally true, though there is some social selling done on the B2C side, too.
Because we’re in that B2B mindset, many of us also assume that social selling happens largely on LinkedIn. It is the primary business social media platform, right?
Right indeed. But it’s not the only show in town. The B2B marketers surveyed for Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report did pick LinkedIn most often as their #1 social media platform. But Facebook and Twitter did pretty well, too.
And remember, these are the percentage of marketers saying these platforms perform best for them. I was pretty surprised to learn to so many had picked Facebook. So that’s one myth busted for me, too.
Here are the myths we’ve talked about, and the opposing ideas:
1. Social selling takes a lot of time.
Actually, you can get enough done to see results with just 30 minutes a day.
2. You have to know a lot about social media to do social selling right.
If you wait until you’re a master at social media, you may never get started. Basic skills and some common sense are all you need to do well. The whole social selling thing is far less technically challenging that it appears.
3. Social selling is all about the data.
In part, that’s true. But the data is useless without all your well-tested sales experience. You’re not anywhere near being obsolete.
4. Social selling can be automated.
Again, some parts can be automated – like content sharing, and some email marketing. But you must reach out to contacts with customized messages that show you’ve done some research on them. Nobody likes automated social media messages.
5. All content is shared via social media.
Email is a more active sharing channel than social is. There’s actually more sharing going on via “dark social” than on any social platform.
6. It’s okay to stick with cold calling.
Not if you want to be competitive.
7. Social selling means LinkedIn marketing.
Surprisingly, Facebook and Twitter outperform LinkedIn for some social sellers. It depends on your business and your particular social selling techniques.
Want all that in a nutshell? Here it is:
Don’t get spooked by social selling. You’ve already got all the essential skills you need to do it well. Learn a bit about the different messaging tactics and the etiquette of different platforms, and you’ll do fine.
What do you think?
Have you broken through any myths in your own social selling work? Has there been any one piece of hype you’ve learned simply isn’t true? Share your experience in the comments.
People buy from people, not companies. Next to events and other face-to-face methods, social media is the best channel for building meaningful connections with your prospects.
Download “5 Steps to Social Selling,” to learn the five key steps to use social selling to build relationships that last, provide value, demonstrate consistency, and are mutually beneficial.