8 Ways to Successfully Sell Using Social Media

social media how toThere’s this age-old problem with selling: If we could only get more people to pay attention to us, we could build relationships that lead to sales.

Fortunately, social media offers an amazing source of business opportunities. If you approach it the right way, you can build many relationships that could be crucial to your business growth and success.


Check out this video to see the sales potential of social media

This article is about successfully “selling” with social media. I’ll explore how to achieve success with the “two people getting to know each other and starting up a conversation that might go somewhere” kind of selling.

Here are 8 ways to strike up social media conversations with people you want to meet:

#1: Boil the Frog

There’s an old wives’ tale (some truth to it), that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will sense the heat and jump out. But put a frog in cool water and turn up the heat slowly and the frog will hardly notice.

When reaching out online to people you’d like to meet, don’t come on like gangbusters. Nothing screams “jump out of the hot pot” more than a blatant “let’s talk so I can sell you something” message.

Start cool and warm up slowly. Comment on their blog post. Retweet them thoughtfully. Compliment something they wrote. Become familiar to someone—even if they don’t engage you right away—and it’s more likely that they’ll engage you in the future.

For example, this person wrote to me personally, said something pleasant and left it there. Nice start!

twitter

Dr. Rachna Jain, who studies the psychology of social media, says, “When people see you more, they like you more. The shorthand is that familiarity breeds likeability. Especially if you’re seen as giving them value or good content or information.”

#2: Givers Gain

The world of social media changes faster than the Clippers change coaches. But some things never change—like the golden rule of networking (social or otherwise).

The golden rule? Givers gain. (Bet you figured that out from the section header.)

As Dr. Jain said, “…especially if you’re seen as giving them value or good content or information.” How? Share a white paper. Share a relevant piece of research. Invite them to a private local business event.

Remember, starting relationships can take many touches. Do this right, and people will perceive you as valuable even before you interact with them personally (which we’re getting to), and you boil the frog at the same time.

#3: Make Henry Kissinger Proud

There’s an old story that’s been told and retold about how Henry Kissinger approached getting the best out of his staff. Before reviewing anything from his people, he’d ask, “Before I look at this… is it your best work?“, and the staff would go back and keep working until they could say yes.

When reaching out through social media, give it your Henry Kissinger effort.

As president of a company and publisher of a reader publication (RainToday), we have about 150,000 subscribers and followers.  And they reach out to me fairly regularly and want to connect.

Many of them remain strangers because they made no effort to relate to me. A standard, “my products would be of value” overture does not catch anyone’s attention. No personalization… no genuine connection. Even something better than bad would be good.

But every once in a while, someone reaches out with real effort, energy and thoughtfulness—the kind that would make Henry Kissinger proud. Here’s an example of how one gentleman started a conversation:

LinkedIn

This example goes on with several more paragraphs explaining our connections and reasons for why we might both be interested in connecting. This contact effort was obviously customized and it resonated well with me.

#4: Be Brave

Call reluctance is common on the phone. It happens online, too. People don’t reach out online because of some kind of fear. “They won’t respond.” “They’ll say no.” “They’ll be angry with me.”

The fact of the matter is most customers believe salespeople don’t reach out enough. In the online world, there’s a heavy emphasis on the concept of inbound marketing. I think inbound marketing is a great approach. But that doesn’t mean proactive outreach—the online equivalent of cold-calling is either dead or bad. (By the way, cold-calling isn’t dead. See the research in Bloomberg Business Week from 2007. The 2010 study revealed the same thing.)

When you find a particular person you want to connect with, reach out.

As long as you keep points 1, 2 and 3 in mind, you’ll be fine. As business guru Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Be brave. Take shots.

#5: Be Positive and Pleasant

When some people gear up their bravery for outreach, they think, “I’m about to reach out to a big-time person. I need to seem big time too!” So they puff out their chest and brag about how awesome they are.

Who made the rule that “important” people should be temperamental and full of themselves? Not endearing. I’ve had the good fortune of interacting with lots of guru types and most of them are pleasant and humble.

Don’t try to come off as the BMOC. The fastest way to come off as inconsequential is to keep saying how influential you are.

Todd Schnick says it so well:

Actions make you influential. Not your words or tweets. People who serve, people who help others, people who share the cool things that others are doing… those are the actions that make you influential.”

Right on, Todd.

#6: Prepare for Window Shopping

When you reach out to people, expect that they’ll check you out. When someone writes to me and I’m curious, the first thing I do is Google and see what comes up.

Make sure when the people reaching out to you search for you online, you’re portrayed exactly how you want to be. Determine how your personal brand and online reputation come across, as they’ll greatly affect people’s impressions of you.

#7: Let Your Personality Shine Through

People build relationships with people they like. If you want to build relationships, be endearing. And the best way to do that? Let your personality shine through.

Boring is forgettable. Personality is memorable. And social media outlets are the perfect place for you to be yourself.

For example, in my research for this piece, I came across articles by Amy Porterfield. I visited her website, and saw her nifty little description of herself:

I BELIEVE in:

  • Hard work, but that you have to be able to throw it all away for love and family.
  • No drama. Really… not even a little!
  • Acceptance. No judgment lives here.
  • Wearing my heart on my sleeve.
  • Embracing whatever’s next.
  • But most of all, I believe that social media should be something you enjoy, not dread, every day.

No drama. Not even a little. I love it!

Now that’s letting your personality shine through.

#8: Take It Offline, When It’s Time

Social media outlets are great places for starting conversations, but they’re not the only place to have them. When the time is right, take the conversation offline.

You can start with a phone call or go right to face-to-face (assuming you’ve boiled your frog correctly). In any case, take the leap.

Selling is a contact sport. After you’ve begun your conversation and built rapport, find a good reason to take the conversation offline and see where it takes you.

And a little bonus…

There are so many social media tools available now it can be difficult to keep up. Here are a handful of tools that are helpful for lead generation and sales:

  • Google Alerts and Twitter Alerts help you find reasons to create conversations by following trigger events.
  • SocialToo can help you keep track of new and lost followers.
  • GeoChirp is good if you need to focus on a specific geography.
  • TubeMogul can help you spread the word with video.
tubemogul

TubeMogul is a video advertising and analytics platform that connects advertisers with highly targeted audiences.

  • Twellow finds people you’re looking for with a sort of Yellow Pages for Twitter.
twellow

Twellow is a directory of public Twitter accounts to help you find people who matter to you.

One last thought—selling is a big topic. There are so many approaches to succeeding with selling. I think about sales a lot, but I don’t have a corner on the best ideas by a long shot.

If there was a ninth way to succeed in building relationships and selling with social media, and you were to add it to this article, what would it be? Leave your comments in the box below.

*No frogs were in any way harmed in the process of writing this article.

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About the Author, Mike Schultz

Mike Schultz is president of the sales training company RAIN Group, author of Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation and publisher of RainToday.com. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.colemanmg.com Antonio Coleman

    Mike I think all conversation should be very simple and straight. Try to get to know a person first before asking for favors..this will help you grow faster..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Tkeene6

    Great read, Mike. I think the most common mistake I see is people coming on too strong. I recently had someone send me a meeting request through LinkedIn when all I had done was look at their profile. Not gonna happen. I’m more than willing to speak to just about anyone, but at least let me know why it might be worth my time first!

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    I’m with you. A little personal outreach and thoughtfulness go a long way. Even senior executives tell me that so few people make an actual effort when they reach out.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Straightforwardness is a virtue, for sure. And, as well, getting to know people before making requests.

    One other thought about favors: Once someone does you a favor once, they’re likely to do it again. Called the “Ben Franklin Effect” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Franklin_effect.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Great read Mike! And I’ll add something to what Tkeene6 said above. It’s not only that you can come on too strong at the wrong time, but you can also be blind to the different reasons why people use social media platforms and come on inappropriately.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Cindy. I think you make a great point about assumptions. The most important thing is not to make them. Much like a lot of people, I use LinkedIn primarily for business contacts, and have a personal Facebook account for old pals. This is how I use these platforms, but everyone else comes to the table with their own reasons, and expect certain things from communications based on what those reasons are.

    If you reach out respectfully you shouldn’t run into too much trouble, but realize that everyone comes to the table with their own mental model of life, not just social media.

    This is another reason to let your personality come out. People like to connect with real people, and putting a bit of yourself in your communication can go a long way.

  • http://www.slice-works.com Meredith Rabil

    Hi Mike,
    These are some excellent tips. It can be hard to decipher between invading someone’s personal space (even in a business environment) and desiring to make a meaningful connection. I think you highlighted great ways to step out of the comfort zone, and do this without crossing personal space boundaries. Thanks for your insight!

  • http://www.thewordflirt.com Wordflirt

    I just love reading your work – thank you again for insightful tips. Your philosophy resonates well with mine! Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/escnewmedia ESC New Media

    Mike,
    Great tutorial on Social Media and selling. I, for one, do not like to sell; I like solving problems and providing value. In order to do so, the sales aspect must be endeared to some degree. Which is why social media is so valuable. Point # 7 is the true key to success. When you are personable and connect with your audience, issues of price and other challenges are reduced to discussions and compromise. There is a reason why people do a majority of business with people they know. Visibility and credibility will certainly increase your chances to “solve their problem” versus “sell them something”.

    Eddy Sutton

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Hi Meredith,

    Thank you for your comment. It’s just like dating. Go up and say something nice to someone, and try to strike up a conversation. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but you don’t have to feel bad about trying if you approach it ethically and thoughtfully. Best – Mike

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thank you, Wordflirt. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. – Mike

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Right on, Eddy. We often share with people that the skills they need to be a great service provider and problem solver are the same skills they need to be great at sales. And while being “liked” and building rapport isn’t *the* key to success, it sure does help.

  • Daleburks

    Mike – great stuff. My first experience with your writing style, and it really sticks. Bold visuals. Post-it-style points that are pinpoint. I look forward to reading more. To your continued success, Dale

  • Daleburks

    Oh, my number nine? Asking. Ask if prospect wants to talk. Ask if new connection wants to connect. Ask if there’s an interest in an informative sales call. I think this shows much respect, and demonstrates that all is well – no panic selling to reach quota.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Dale. I appreciate it. Have to give a hat tip to the great editors at Social Media Examiner, too, and Brooke Webb who works with me at RAIN Group. They add a lot.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Nice addition, Dale.

  • http://caretakerray.com caretakerray

    Mike:
    This is excellent advice! I tend to think about it as “treat others as you’d want to be treated”.
    caretakerray

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    I’m glad you liked it. Golden rule is a good thing to live by and sell by. We all want value, extra effort, top quality, and all that. And we want to be treated honestly and fairly. When it comes to sales, we want people to uncover our real needs, help us make the best impact on our business, and see what the future will be like when we work with them. As sellers, it’s our job to do the same on the flip side.

    Have a great day. – Mike

  • http://insideoutcommunications.com Aliciafrick

    GREAT article. Loved the way in which it is written, too, direct, non-pompous. Would I add another tip? Maybe, BE OPEN. As in, allow yourself to be aware of opportunities, concepts, trends… even people and groups other than the ones that fit within your comfort zone.

  • JC Feeley

    I posted this to my Linked In wall and a few of my sub-groups….your writing is great, and easy to read. So much of this is common sense, but people tend to forget to trust their intuitive instincts. We all benefit from gentle reminders. I once was guided by a peer, the ideal discussion will have a point of “click”, where both parties fall into an easy discussion and the “sale” is simply a natural outcome of the discussion. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/mbradylopez0905 Meghan Brady-Lopez

    Mike,
    I just recently joined Social Examiner and this is the first article I have had a chance to read, but I think it is an excellent one! I am an HR Generalist and though I don’t sell products directly, I am the first point of contact for our potential future employees – so I sell the image of our company. I have to agree with Daleburks for the 9th rule, but add to it that you should not only ask, but you need to then listen to the potential/currently client’s response. I always end an interview with asking if the candidates have any further questions – though I am thorough with my overviews, each person has their unique thoughts and needs and I enjoy the interaction and thoughtfulness of the candidate’s inquiries.

    Thanks for the creative and useful information!

  • http://www.musicalworkshop.org Achim “Chef Keem” Thiemermann

    Hi Mike,

    I appreciate your “mini-bible” on how to do business online. Thank you for walking the talk with your immensely useful “Examiner”.
    If it’s not already mentioned (and I have overlooked it), I’d like to add the aspect of patience to this discussion. I’m running several online campaigns for my clients, and boy am I always impatient with my results.
    A good thing will take a while to develop. Right?

    Best regards,
    Achim

  • Todd Schnick

    thanks for the mention! and great article!

  • Rob Zaleski

    This answer is partially because I am a card carrying member of the grammar police, but I think proofreading communications is very important. Few things make me question the credibility of your outreach to me more than an email or Facebook post frought with spelling and grammatical errors. I’m not even counting simple text speak abbreviations like Thx or LOL. Reaching out should be personal, yet still professionally done, as you are hoping to make that contact a client. You don’t want to under cut your credibility right from the start!

  • http://www.strategicmail.com Rob Zaleski

    Also, thanks for a great article! I found it very informative and have a couple things to go look into now. Great post!

  • http://blog.socialmediahq.com/ Nick Robinson

    I think the biggest opportunity is in monitoring conversations revolving around the product or service category that you sell. It allows you to enter relevant conversations at the very point that people need you.

  • J. Mark

    Excellent advice! I like the “dating” metaphor. The key for me islearning that 1) relationships often take time (longer than we want) to develop, and 2) the other person may not want a new relationship. It is not about me, it is about where they are at this time in their business. So I will probably have to make initial contacts with lots of targets in order to gain a relationship with one good prospect or candidate. Don’t take it personally, just keep at it.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’d really suggest, for those who haven’t, clicking on that Todd Schnick link. Really highlights the advice to stay “non pompous”. Glad I didn’t mess that part up. Great addition, as well. Thank you.

  • http://www.engagingdentists.com EngagingDentists.com

    Hey Mike,
    Great article and thanks for all the analogies. I’m sure you’ll gain more than a few twitter followers – myself included.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    You’re welcome. I have to call all my old English teachers and let them know how much they helped. I enjoyed writing it, and I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.

    And, yes, it’s helpful to make a connection. So many sellers focus right on the ROI, but they would do well to slow down a bit sometimes and find mutual areas of connection and build rapport.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Meghan, the research on sales backs you up. We teach people the RAIN Selling method in our most recent book and in our seminars, and the “A” and the “I” stand for (among a few other things) a reminder to “balance advocacy and inquiry.” If you ask questions and listen, it helps a bunch of different ways. Who knows, you may have a future as a sales superstar!

    Mike

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Hi Achim,

    Thank you for your comments. Much of what we discuss in the article is about developing relationships. One thing that’s true about most good relationships is that they take time to develop them. Sometimes they develop fast, and other times more slowly, but one thing is true: rush them too much and they can get derailed.

    Have a great day.

    Mike

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thank you, Todd. Nice to make your acquaintence.

  • Mary K Mele

    Loved the info…..and that no froggies were hurt! :-)

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    BOSMKL!

    Seriously, Rob, thank you. I’ll try my best not to run afoul of the grammar police. Great editors help with articles like this one, but a quick reread would do many people well.

    Best,

    Mike

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Exactly! We tend to refer to these as “trigger events”, real reasons to engage. It takes a little strategy and forethought, but it’s well worth it.

    Best,

    Mike

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Right on. Reacting personally or emotionally is rarely helpful. Best to keep the mindset “how can I make the best thing happen right now” and that’s usually keeping at it and staying positive.

    Have a good one.

    Mike

  • http://twitter.com/craighoggins Craig Hoggins

    Boil the frog. Love it….

    At the end of the day, if you are prospecting to sell then one has got to add value for the prospect. If no value is added through the early relationship stage then the prospect has no reason to believe that the “purchase” will add value.

    Love this post Mike.

    Thanks a stack, all the way from sunny Cape Town

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Frogs are people, too, right?

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    You’re welcome, a double stack, and a side of home fries.

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    Hi Mike. Thanks for sharing 8 awesome points to successfully sell with social media. Actually, today I wrote a post about PPC with 3 Rock Hard Secrets. My third secret could be your number 9. Let’s be creative:

    #9. Connect to Mental Relevancy
    We all have things we want or fear. If you listen to other people’s desire or pain, you’ll be able to tell them how to fulfill their dream or get rid of the frustration. The Golden Circle teaches us the middle sections of our brain drives our decisions. Talk to people about their emotion and make your call to action. This is a win-win situation. You get the sale, they get rid of the pain or realize their dreams. Now, what more can a person want.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Juan.

    We typically define a value proposition as the “collection of reasons why people buy” and break that down into three major areas: resonance, differentiation, and substantiation. The first part, resonance, has to be there. And what reasonates? Getting people what they want, or saving them from their fears and frustrations.

    I also beleive that people buy with their hearts and justify with their heads. They want something or fear something, and so they buy and justify that purchase with an ROI argument. Not saying that the ROI argument isn’t a *real* and worthwhile justification, but that business sellers, as you point out, need to keep in mind that emotional needs are still core to the sale.

    Have a good one.

    Mike

  • http://www.sproutsocial.com Tessa Auza

    Great Article Mike!

    The Henry Kissinger point really resonated with me. Sometimes if I wonder if I really put forth the right effort… If there’s any doubt, the answer is probably ‘no’. So then the Be Brave idea just reinforces what I gotta get done!

    Also, I’m am quite relieved to hear no frogs were harmed.

    And thanks, too, for including Sprout Social in there in the end. Really appreciate it!

  • Daleburks

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s a sales relationship, and that takes at least two.

  • Victoria Ipri

    I follow the Chris Brogan philosophy of growing influence by giving credit to others. When I am responding to a LinkedIn post, for example, I might say, “Great, post, John! Jimmy Jones was mentioning yesterday that frogs boil better in water than oil. I thought it was a good insight. You may want to connect with him here.”

    Of course, being a connector is a wonderful way to enjoy valuable connections. Anytime I can refer someone, to introduce people, I never miss that opportunity. It always comes back to me many times over.

    Along these same lines, I suggest being appropriately hyper-responsive to emails and posts. No one wants to feel like an afterthought.

    Excellent article, Mike! I’ll enjoy retweeting and reposting this and my followers will definitely enjoy reading it.

  • Erin White

    Great article Mike! And perfect timing as I am about to unveil my updated social media plan to our sales team! But just one thing…please tell me you don’t really think Wayne Gretzky is a business guru…I trust you were being sarcastic? Hockey fans everywhere are wondering… :)

    Cheers!!

  • http://metaphysicsetcetera.blogspot.com Leigh Harris

    Great tips, Mike.
    I’ve been learning about social media for the past year or so, and following social media examiner.

    Recently, I decided that I simply wanted to get to know the amazing people I meet online, and provide them with something unique that makes their visit to my page worth their time. That’s it.

    And I’m meeting some wonderful, down-to-earth, successful people.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Funny just how much people can improve their own work if they just ask to themselves, “Before I send this along, is there anything I can improve?” And…you’re welcome.

    Mike

    P.S. You know what one frog said to the other frog? Time’s fun when you’re havin’ flies. (I’ll call my dad and let him know I used that one…)

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Nice way to look at it, Victoria.

    I can’t think of a witty response to the frog part that doesn’t involve high temperatures, so I’ll just say thanks again.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Believe it or not, I think Wayne Gretzky has a pretty interesting business background, but I’m not sure of his guru status. You never, know, though, what he’ll do next. He is The Great One, after all…

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Love to hear about actual results! Nice work.

  • http://www.snap-marketing.co.uk Website Design and Marketing

    Great post here and very thought provoking. What I am taking from this Mike is the emphasis here on pro-activity – reaching out. I think many many companies fail at social media because they are not proactive. The post some stuff – mistaking the difference between boring trivia and genuine character – and wait – and wait – and wait – and guess what – nothing happens. We see the same thing happening in face to face networking events – only by being interesting, useful and reaching out will people take notice and start referring you to their valuable clients or to start using you themselves.

    Interesting stuff

    Thanks for sharing

    Matt

  • Geo

    Great post, Mike. As a marketing student (on assignment) I can tell you this: For all companies, blogging provides opportunities that other on-and-offline marketing tools do not.

    geo

  • http://profiles.google.com/razchorev Raz Chorev

    The Golden rule is great! There is also a Platinum Rule – “Treat others in the way THEY like to be treated.” (Tony Alessandra wrote a book with that title). One word change – whole different attitude.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Shilpi Roy – Virtual Assistant

    I loved what you have done here. The design is elegant, your stuff classy. Yet, you have got an edginess to what you’re offering here. Ill definitely come back for more and know about more topics.

  • http://twitter.com/derekfinke Derek Finke

    Well done, Mike. Brought my brain on higher temp level ;-)

  • http://www.sproutsocial.com Tessa Auza

    Good frog joke! i heard another one recently and I can’t resist:

    What do frogs eat? Whatever bugs ‘em! *highhat*

  • Pingback: EngagingDentists

  • http://twitter.com/ccspiteri Charlene Spiteri

    Thank you for this great advise Mike. Will keep this close to me on a daily basis.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thank you, Matt. In RAIN Selling we share 10 Rainmaker Principles. #3 is “Take Action”. Nothing much happens without it.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Great kudos for the folks at Social Media Examiner!

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Derek. Hope it’s not boiling with the frogs.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Your welcome. Can’t say I’ve gotten that one before, but I’m flattered.

  • Ms Tanya Warden

    I agree with building relationships so potential customers remember you in the “time of need”. I also somewhat desipise actual selling, but like everyone else there is plenty of pressure from above. My style (in selling event attendance) is focusing on all of marketing, not just the sales part.

    You are also correct about making more than one touch. Most people I survey that attend our venue’s events have heard about about it at least 3 or more times in different ways before “looking it up” on their own to get details. The cool thing is when you do reach that one person they almost always do the selling for you to people they know.

  • http://paynelessadvice.com/ Donald Payne

    This is a lot to absorb but it is powerful information. I have a good handle on the majority of the information listed but improvement is always good. Once again, great post, very informational.

  • http://powersbusiness.com Shane Powers

    Great article! I don’t know which analogy I like better…”Boil the Frog” or “Make Kissinger Proud”. Honestly, I go to a number of networking events each week and I regularly feel like I need to jump out of the pot (or shower off) after I’m approached with these shamelessly self-promoting introductions.

    Shane
    P.S. I’ve also heard sales people refer to it as “The 17 Year-Old’s Approach” or trying to score on the first date.

  • Barry Deutsch

    Mike,

    Excellent article. I particularly liked your first ideas of boil the frog and givers gain. Interestingly, these are not new ideas founded in social media – instead they are classic networking tactics to develop and nurture relationships. My experience is that social media has not added any new techniques to classic and traditional networking or relationship building – instead social media has allowed us to leverage those tactics on a grander scale.

    I can now do effective lead generation and nurturing with hundreds, if not thousands of prospects, where in the past before social media it was pretty much one-on-one or sending newsletters/email blasts. Social Media gives sales professionals the opportunity to grow their lead generation and nurturing activities far beyond their imagination.

    So, here’s where I am confused. I do executive search for very high level sales professionals. Very few understand, grasp, use, leverage social media for effective lead generation and nurturing. Probably less than 2% have any mastery of using social media. Why are so few sales professionals using it?

    Not only have their companies not provided training, skill development and tools in this area – but most sales professionals have not taken any initiative to master the use of social media – beyond signing up for a LinkedIn account.

    Is leveraging social media for sales still such an early adopter activity that it could be 2-3-4 years before we see widespread use of it in the sales function? All the evidence, case studies, metrics point out that social media is an effective tool in selling.

    What do you see as the “tipping point” that will move sales professionals to embrace social media as a tool for relationship/lead generation and nurturing?

    Barry Deutsch
    IMPACT Hiring Solutions
    http://www.impacthiringsolutions.com

  • Daleburks

    Barry,

    I sell B2B contact data for Jigsaw, and we hear prospects say they use Linkedin for contact information. So I have to ask, “Are you paying for access?” I use Twitter prior to a discovery call, but as has been mentioned in the string of this article, using social media takes time. One must gain permission to advance.
    I’d love to hear your thoughts, because you accurately nailed my short-coming on the head – not seeking more knowledge as to the use of social media in my sales process. Also, your metrics are enviable.
    Thanks in advance –

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks! I guess you have to Kissenger a lot of frogs if you want to find your prince, right? And I’m with you…no one likes glad handing. But most people like talking to genuine people, and if you can be one of them, networking can go from a chore to a blast.

  • http://www.aaroneden.com/ Aaron Eden

    The hardest part in selling perhaps is getting all the negation.. all the NO’s and you’re suddenly lost on what to do. I love the way you present your tips here- far from the boring ‘how-to’ stuff you get to read online these days. Thanks!!

  • Mooresdhomes

    Thanks! I am trying to use social media for two-way conversations and this article gave me good ideas. I just setup google alerts and tweetbeep.

  • http://twitter.com/nksocialmedia Nicolas Kokolski

    I couldn’t agree more with your approach. I’ve had twenty years of face to face experience in selling B2B and have always found the hard sell is a big turn off. All it does is up people’s resistance and makes them more stubborn. If a prospect doesn’t like you then no matter how good the product or the pitch he will not buy. What you have done is to encapsulate everything I have struggled to develop over the last twenty years. I now have to transfer this to social media management.
    Great article, very well expressed.

  • http://www.idoinspire.com Jody Urquhart

    Great blog Mike. I have been meaning to try twitter alerts. Thanks for the nudge
    It usually takes like 10 or 20 times before someone byes, so social media is a great way to stay in a customers mind

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  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Barry,

    Great question. I see three things:

    1. Early adopter is right. As you point out, it’s just going to take a while for people to “get it” or for it to cross the Geoffrey Moore chasm with enough people creating the groundswell. I also think it has to do with comfort. People coming out of college who are used to using LinkedIn will gravitate towards it and things like it naturally, whereas people “just starting to figure it out” are going to take a long time.

    2. Many sales people won’t prospect. It’s not about LinkedIn, it’s about sales people. Not all of them have the desire and the commitment to work that hard, and a bunch don’t have the hunter skill set to make these kinds of connections. Couple this with online comfort, and you have a shrinking pool.

    3. Training is poor. I’ve seen a few trainings on selling with social media, and they haven’t been good. Sales people might even give it the old college rise, but even good bakers following bad recipies can’t make good cakes.

    Best of luck out there.

    Mike

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    You’re welcome.

    No is a part of sales. Can’t take it personally. Once you don’t, it gets a lot easier.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Great! Best of luck.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks so much. I appreciate the thoughts.

    I think a hard sell works fine, if you don’t care about the relationship. But for you, and me, and most everyone in B to B or high-ticket item sales (like financial services) the relationship is important. When it is, nothing is worse than an arm-twisting approach.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Joday. Good luck with the alerts and all your efforts.

  • http://twitter.com/scribestream Scribe Stream

    The video is pretty amazing. Very well made and well said!

  • Scott Farrell

    Hi, Mike. Thanks for the nice article. All good reminders (including the reference to Ren & Stimpy which made me spend way too much time on YouTube this morning… lol.) I think a nice addition is simply to remember the Golden Rule. How would you want to be treated? How do you like to be communicated with? That basic level of respect whether via social media or offline goes a long way.

    I hope you’re having a great week.
    Scott Farrell

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  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Yes, I thought it was a good one. Funny how well done video makes its way around…

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Scott. Hope you’re having a great week, too.

    Happy Happy, Joy Joy

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  • Emcdonough8

    This is a very interesting post! I was especially intrigued by point #6 about the “preparing for window shopping.” In all of my PR classes, we are constantly reminded of the importance of personal branding. This post adds another reason as to why this is so important for businesses. Just like you, when a person drops his/her business’s name I automatically look it up online afterwards. If that were to happen to me in the future, I would want to make sure that my website and online image is as close to perfect as possible. I fully believe that a business’s website says a lot about what they have to offer.

  • http://MagnoliaJazz.com/blog Robbie Schlosser

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for this wonderful post! I just shared it on FB and urged all my friends to read it, saying “As far as I’m concerned, it’s not really about selling, but instead about how to engage with people and what might come of that.” Maybe buying & selling, if that turns out to be useful to all involved, but that’s only one way friends can be helpful. A favorite thought of mine is “friends help friends”, and to me, the top value of your article is how it points out several excellent ways to use social media to create a trusted friendship. Whether or not it leads to any selling, it’s bound to be helpful to everyone involved.

    I really enjoyed reading this article, and I’m off to find more of your posts. Hope they’re all expressed as well.

    Robbie

  • http://www.internetincomecode.com George Tee

    Hi mike, great post. A business person should first talk about anything than selling the products right away. I know a clothing business online that do the same, when she has a new customer, she didn’t brought up the business, she let the customer do. She just put up a good facebook fan page for her business and then she got many members. She got the good attitude to run the business and it turned out well.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Lots of research on this, too. It’s not just that they’re looking, it’s affecting whether they contact you.

    In our How Clients Buy research report, we learned that 83% of buyers report thae provider’s website holds “some” or a “great deal of influence” over their decision to engage in initial discussions with that provider. This is a significant increase compared to 2005, when 69% of buyers assigned websites at least “some influence” over this decision.

    Furthermore, only 16% of 2005 buyers said websites have “a great deal of influence” over their decision to contact the provider, vs. 28% of late 2008 buyers.

    And the influence holds when it comes to the ultimate purchase decision Nearly three‐quarters (74%) of buyers said the provider’s website holds at least “some influence” over their ultimate decision to buy from the provider. Only 51% of buyers in 2005 assigned websites at least “some influence” over the ultimate purchasing decision, indicating a significant increase of 23 percentage points in website influence for the late 2008 buyers.

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  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Robbie. Hope you enjoy the rest of what you find. Rainmaking Conversations is a great next read for you if you like.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Much appreciated, George. Sometimes you should just stick to business, but you’re right, at first, breaking the ice and building rapport typically goes a long way. Have a good one.

    Mike

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  • http://ProfitablePopularity.com/ Dr. Rachna Jain

    Great article, and thanks for quoting me! :)

  • http://socialmediamanagerinc.com David Mon

    This is hands down one of the best articles I have ever read, too many people miss it but this is spot on social media is a soft sell tool, its more about building relationships thanks selling.

    Thanks,
    Dave

  • http://www.mybiztoolkit.co.uk/ Ann Mullings

    No frogs harmed.. Phew!!! Thanks for the list of tools

  • http://momentsintimelynn.blogspot.com Lynn

    This was a very good article. I read a lot of these “tips” posted on Linked in and some are very impersonal and not very interesting. Yours had a lot of detail and explanation. I enjoyed reading them. Thank you.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thank you for doing nice work worth quoting…

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Now that’s really nice of you to day, Dave.

    Have a great weekend.

    Mike

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    You’re welcome, Francene and Kermit…

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Lynn. – Mike

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Lynn. Much appreciated.

  • http://www.socialxplosion.com/blog/ SocialXplosion

    Thanks for the 8 tips on selling with social media. I like the analogy of boiling the frog. Selling with social media is not much different from traditional sales, it is all about building a relationship.

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  • Eoin H

    This is a great article. I was about to start a pre-launch of a service I have been working on for a long time, but how to get the message out without bombarding people is a concern. Your article has given me a few things to think about. Nice one, really good advice here.

  • http://growingforward.net Scott Asai

    Seems like a relationship to me…better to let it marinate over time, then try and microwave it right away.

  • http://twitter.com/networkelites NetworkElites

    Really great step-by-step method for engaging in social media and using it to your advantage. Thanks for the great post.

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  • http://twitter.com/indocompparts SadewA
  • http://twitter.com/indocompparts SadewA
  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Lynn.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Lynn.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    My pleasure. Glad it was of assistance.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    My pleasure. Glad it was of assistance.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    You’re welcome Sadew, Scott, and NetworkElites.

  • http://www.rainsalestraining.com Mike Schultz

    You’re welcome Sadew, Scott, and NetworkElites.

  • http://twitter.com/cuesocialmedia CueSoMe | Sonya Cole

    I LOVE that you used the boiling frog analogy. I use that all the time for many things that people put up with in their life.

  • http://twitter.com/cuesocialmedia CueSoMe | Sonya Cole

    I LOVE that you used the boiling frog analogy. I use that all the time for many things that people put up with in their life.

  • Art Milford Jr

    Mike
    Good Point I enjoy reading varies comment.It very important that one realize Social Media was create for one Purpose and It time to stop looking for negative in everything that successful embrace it!

  • Art Milford Jr

    Mike
    Good Point I enjoy reading varies comment.It very important that one realize Social Media was create for one Purpose and It time to stop looking for negative in everything that successful embrace it!

  • http://www.de-facto.co.za/ Helen de Coster

    Awesome post! I’m just going to have to share it with everyone – especially my clients – many of whom want to do the social media thing because they’ve heard they have to, but as they don’t understand the dynamics – the why or the how – they haven’t made the leap yet. Maybe they’re just doing the frog thing too :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Walker-Marla/100000209047661 Walker Marla

    Great article! I especially liked the way you expertly brought to light the big roles that emotion and fear play when decisions are made. Something to always be aware and considerate of.

  • Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Helen. Social media is the shiny new penny to a lot of folks. They’re just rushing to it because everyone else is. But you can’t make it work until you really understand the dynamics. Good luck.

    Mike

  • Mike Schultz

    Thanks, Helen. Social media is the shiny new penny to a lot of folks. They’re just rushing to it because everyone else is. But you can’t make it work until you really understand the dynamics. Good luck.

    Mike

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  • http://www.earthtangle.com Social Network

    Really great tips for using social media

  • http://www.liquidproductions.co.uk Matt Popay

    Some really interesting points. As a small video production business after beginning to use Twitter and other social media sites we’ve seen a massive increase in traffic to our website and a number of new clients too! We love it. Check out our blog about Social Media, how we’ve used it and more… http://www.liquidproductions.co.uk/1248/using-social-media

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  • http://twitter.com/simontigerjack Simon Jack

    Great advice. I’ve never been great at social media as I always felt it was a bit pointless and hard to swim against the torrent of spammy sales messages and mundaneness… (if that’s a word… well it is now… mundanity?). But I learnt that it’s really important to get your personality across and show your passion, then it’s all a bit more natural and actually feels good. I mean, if social media is an alternative to face-to-face, you’d better make damn sure you have as much virtual presence as possible! I’m now using http://www.phinkit.com and am getting more creative content out there than ever and I feel I can finally be my real self online.

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