Drop the “Social” Prefix Already…It’s Just “Selling”



“Social selling”. In our modern digital times, we’ve all heard this term. And, it has become pretty dominant in the industry. But is this really the only thing sales teams should be focused on? Let’s explore…

As a sales rep, I have to admit that Twitter rubbed me the wrong way once it started to go mainstream circa 2009. In short, it seemed like a monumental waste of time. My marketing team was urging me to “use Twitter to find leads”, but I ran an entire geographic territory and doing a Twitter search for terms such as “marketing automation” or “lead nurturing” was not focused enough and created too much noise. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Fast forward a few years and these gray hairs from Marketo’s IPO run have made me just a little wiser. The truth is this: if you are selling SaaS and you aren’t building a brand or presence on social networks like Twitter or LinkedIn, you are missing out on opportunities to be found, and not investing enough in your personal brand. People buy from people and Twitter allows you to initiate a conversation with anyone around the world. Right from your phone, tablet, or computer (notice which one I listed last).

Let’s go deeper though. When I started selling in 2004, only the uber uber early adopters were on LinkedIn. Only the LIONs (look it up) had 500 connections or more, and LinkedIn’s biggest competitive threat was Plaxo. Social didn’t really exist. Selling was done mostly by phone, and email, funny enough, was used to set up phone calls!

Back in my day (as I’m now old per Silicon Valley standards), we had to call the operator and ask “to be transferred to the person that handles X or Y”. Now, with LinkedIn, it’s easier than ever to directly get ahold of the person who handles demand generation or IT infrastructure. Just open up a web browser, use the LinkedIn advanced search, and go to town.

Here’s what has happened though: because it became so easy to access who the power was, these folks had to find refuge from salespeople. As a result, no one picks up their work phone anymore. (Seriously…I haven’t picked up my phone in two years and I’m in sales.) You still have to and should make the calls to get in the door, but these calls are now more of a glimpse into who you are so they are more likely to return your follow-up email. I mean, really, when was the last time someone picked up the phone and re-dialed the number you left on your cold call voicemail?

So then begs the question: How do you effectively reach people in modern times? Is it by phone, email, or social media?

The answer is…drum roll, please…a combination of all three! It’s not “phone selling”, “email selling”, or “social selling”. It’s just SELLING. And if sales is your profession, you need to learn and become a master of all three channels. And yes, I’m talking to you, too, Mr./Mrs. Field Rep who is trying to close big enterprise deals but is still selling the “old way” (you know, without using a CRM tool, but instead, relying on your handy rolodex).

Here’s my rule of thumb for the present: selling is 40% phone, 45% email, and 15% social. (I’ll wait a moment while you add that up to make sure it comes out to an even 100.)

You need to get good at using all three of these tools if you want to truly connect with your buyers and give them the experience they deserve. We can learn more about someone we are just meeting for the first time than ever before. So, I urge you to get to know them as people: take an interest in helping them address their needs and connect with them in a personable and memorable way. Once you do this, your customers will buy more from you, they’ll refer their friends to you, and they’ll become your biggest advocates both personally and professionally. Beautiful.