Question: We are working on getting our sales team to do more “Social Selling.” However, many of our sales force feel like social selling is like native advertising and they worry about over promoting or not being transparent enough. Do you think sales professionals need to be transparent about their intentions when it comes to social selling?
It’s funny that you asked this question because I just had this conversation with a colleague of mine. Much like native advertising, what is the line between a genuine endorsement and a paid advertisement. Moreover, does payment necessarily mean that the endorsement isn’t genuine?
As someone who openly does paid content work for brands, I would say that it is absolutely possible for someone to genuinely endorse a product that they are being paid to support. However, it is important for brands and marketers to note that the line can be blurry so the content better be good! 🙂
So let’s relate this back to the social selling request that you have for your team.
For many long standing sales professionals, the whole concept of marketing, social media and using these tools to sell is a bit foreign. Many of these sales pros have been carrying a bag, traveling from client to client and shaking hands for decades. There is a certain comfort in the way they do things. The good news is, the way they have done things isn’t all bad or all wrong.
The primary difference between the old way and the new way is that today there is so much more information available than ever before. Even 10 years ago buyers weren’t using Google the way they are now and social media was barely influential in most purchases. This meant that the sales pros were still the trusted advisors and information parity was still in the favor of the sales person. Today that is different. Except for the most unique cases, the buyer has access to all the information that they could ever hope for.
For social selling, it is merely the utilization of all of this information to help those within your target audience to selectively consume content in order to help lead them toward a decision that is favorable to your brand. Of course, in layman’s terms this is selling, but if you set out to share the best information that shapes a certain viewpoint, that doesn’t make you a bad person and it doesn’t mean you aren’t being transparent. Rather, it means that you are doing your job and using the tools that the marketplace is offering.
Connecting New Selling To Transparency of Promotion
While some sales professionals may feel that utilizing content to sell to people on social media channels is a highly promotional tactic that lacks transparency, I would argue that every sales tactic ever performed shares the same DNA. Think about it, when you take a client golfing you may not say, “Hey, taking you golfing because I want more of your wallet share.” However, wasn’t that a big part of why you did it?
Most relationships sales pros know that by building a meaningful relationships on the course instills trust and loyalty, which can mean a better business relationship. In today’s world that is overridden by information, the way we use content and social media to sell (social selling) is much the same as golf. We share and invest into our clients by helping them. We inform, educate, inspire and lead our clients to make better decisions that ultimately mean we are doing business together.
If we believe in what we do, and the companies that we work for then there is no lack of transparency. What we are doing here is our job, which in today’s economy is best performed when we help others to succeed using the products and services that we offer.
How is your company using social selling to build relationships? Are your sales teams adopting and buying in?
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