Madeline has been in sales for her entire 17 year career. While primarily focused on B2B (business to business) products and services, she has also sold direct to consumers (B2C) as well. In her current role as VP of Sales for a well funded startup, she has been tasked with selling a new consumer electronics item that has revolutionized the world of couch potatoes…a robot that will get you a snack from the fridge just by thinking what you want (Snack Robot 3000)…to both reseller channels and marketing to consumers directly. While up for the challenge of a new product launch, she is a little wary as she has never sold B2B and B2C simultaneously. Trade shows and in person meetings were her usual mode of selling. Given her limited time and resources, she figured there has got to be a better way…enter Social Selling (or what she thought was Social Selling). Little did she know, she was breaking (IMHO) the Three Cardinal Rules of Social Selling and getting nowhere. Let’s take a look a where Madeline went wrong…
Social Selling Mistake 1: Selling on Social Media
The first thing Madeline did was went out on both LinkedIn and Facebook and posted a huge ad introducing this amazing robot, with a great offer, Buy 1 Get 1 Free. That’s right 2 robots to deliver your goodies, 1 for work and 1 for home! Who wouldn’t want to buy a $3,995 product right off social media? Guess what? She didn’t even get 1 lead, lots of clicks but no leads.
How many times have you seen a post or update on LinkedIn of Facebook similar to the one Madeline posted asking you to buy something? How many times have you clicked the link and purchased it? If you are like most people, you probably haven’t. Why is that? It could be a variety of reasons, but it boils down to, for the most part, these are not “transactional” platforms. People go to eBay, Amazon or Google shopping in buying mode. They are not in buying mode when checking on the latest family gossip or seeing who got promoted (or is looking for a new job wink-wink).
Social Selling Mistake 2: Pouncing Like a Predator
Despite not making any sales through the various ads Madeline posted at the now reduced price of $3,989, (hey it’s $10 off) she did get a few people who asked to connect with her on LinkedIn. After viewing their profiles, Madeline was very excited to see that they both looked like great potential customers due to both being in the food industry and seeing blog posts about their foodie adventures. Without skipping a beat, she immediately looked up their phone numbers and called both prospects…wait, she just violated another Cardinal Rule of Social Selling, Don’t Pounce!
Each lead should be treated as a long-term opportunity to slowly be nurtured. Just like with dating, you probably would not have too much luck if you asked someone to marry you on the first date. Trying to sell someone something when they aren’t ready will land you in the same position, a lost opportunity. Rather, let the relationship flourish. Take time to understand why they connected with you and what their needs are. Over time, if there is a true opportunity, you will be able to nurture the relationship to get it to a point where it may mature into a sale. So, if Madeline hadn’t pounced and played her cards right, she very well might have sold a couple of Snack Robot 3000s, instead she was left with two leads that ended up in the “closed-lost opportunity” pile.
Social Selling Mistake 3: Sales is a Breeze on Social
Madeline is really on a roll with her campaign, albeit a downhill roll that she really needs to turn around and get sales on track. Unfortunately, it looks like she will need to do some more Social Selling studying before she gets those sales numbers on an upward trajectory. Case in point, mistake number 3, making the assumption that selling is much easier on social networks. Let’s throw that notion right out the window. Madeline figured since all the data is right in her fingertips, she can easily pick out her best leads, reach out and they would be ready buyers.
Well, like most anything in life, things generally aren’t just handed to you (except maybe Great Aunt Gwendolyn’s surprise inheritance you received).
Madeline is right that the amount of data available at your fingertips through social is a sales and marketers dream come true. However, data is not useful unless you are analyzing and using it properly. Just like in traditional sales, if you have what looks like a good prospect “on paper”, it does not mean they are in need or ready to buy your product or service. Because of the deluge of content and interactions everyone sees on a daily basis, you really need to stand out and show your lead targets how you can help them. This means patience, providing real value through content and other educational efforts and building that relationship. You now have databases that probably would have cost tens of thousands of dollars to assemble a generation ago for the cost of a premium LinkedIn subscription. Use the data in an intelligent way, but make sure to sell the way you want to be sold to.
Alas, after months of frustration Madeline has found her stride, is no longer making the three mistakes. In fact, she just sold her first Snack Robot 3000, to none other than her college professor, who she had noticed had written a blog on healthy snacking. She began engaging with him via the comment section of his blog. He now gets all the healthy snacks he wants without ever lifting a finger.