Do you use social media to grow your business?

Are you wondering how social media can help you sell more products and services?

To learn about why you need to rethink the sales process in this social age, I interview Tom Martin for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Tom Martin, author of The Invisible Sale: How to Build a Digitally Powered Marketing and Sales System to Better Prospect, Qualify and Close Leads. His agency is Converse Digital.

Tom shares the concept of painless prospecting and propinquity.

You’ll learn how to succeed in the changing social media sales landscape, and how your business can embrace these new strategies.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

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You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Selling With Social Media

How the online world has changed the way businesses sell

Tom believes it’s more about how buyers buy than the way businesses sell. With the Internet, people can hide behind the anonymity of Google search.

You can do all your pre-purchase research without having to talk to a salesperson. You only have to talk to a person once you’ve made a short list of companies you are interested in and want to close the deal.

google search bar

Buyers use Google search for pre-purchase research.

Today’s buyer prefers this process, as it’s easier and more efficient. With this in mind, companies have to adjust.

In the early days, the power was with the salesperson, but with the knowledge available online today, the power is in the hands of the consumer.

Tom says as a business, you have to stop thinking about how you sell because you don’t really sell anymore. Instead you help buyers make a buying decision. When they make their decision, hopefully it will be in your favor. Although it won’t always be the case.

You’ll discover how your system needs to be set up properly and the approach you need to consider.

If you have a really good product or service, more often than not, you will win the conversion. Most people are turned off by people selling to them. The best way is to show them that you’re willing to help and that you always have their best interests at heart.

Listen to the show to find out more about how the approach to sales has changed.

An example of a business that has embraced new ways to sell

Tom talks about a camera store called Adorama based in New York that he used as a case study in his book, The Invisible Sale. Adorama only has one store, but does business in all 50 US states and 5 countries.


The camera store Adorama is used as a case study in The Invisible Sale.

Adorama has two sides to their business, B2C and B2B. Regardless of which side you look at, they approach it the same way. Their philosophy is to sell by sharing original educational content.

Even though it’s a photography store, they sell more than just cameras. They’ve built a Learning Center that includes Adorama TV, which is one of their huge content pieces. The Learning Center is a treasure trove of educational content.

adorama learning center

There is everything from learning how to shoot a photo to discovering the best equipment.

Although their approach is to educate, when you watch one of their videos, you’ll notice easy-to-follow links to products below the video. You’ll find out how they used YouTube to allow people to reach that product.

adorama tv

All products mentioned throughout Adorama's videos are linked below the video for easy access.

In 2010, they saw a general growth curve, mainly due to the educational content they provide.

The moral of the lesson is that if you can make your buyer smarter and better because they are doing business with you, then Tom believes you will succeed in selling more to that buyer.

Listen to the show to hear why Tom relates it to fly-fishing and how it’s the same with modern content marketing.

What is a social agent and why is it important?

Tom describes a social agent as someone who doesn’t necessarily buy from you, but recommends you to a friend or colleague who might buy from you. A lot of the time, social agents can be your most valuable customers that you never do business with. They’re the best customers you’ll have.

You need to draw in your social agents through educational pieces. A relationship is formed with your brand or company when they see value in what you are doing.

You’ll learn how Tom became a huge social agent for Adorama.

Listen to the show to find out the importance of empowering everyone to be a social agent for your company.

In The Invisible Sale, you reveal a process that helps people sell without cold-calling and advertising. Can you explain the process?

Tom calls the process “painless prospecting.” The concept is a spin on inbound marketing. The core difference is that most content and inbound strategies leverage search and keyword optimization.

As more and more businesses discover and deploy keyword optimization and SEO strategies, Tom believes that only so many will win the battle. It’s going to get more competitive and much more difficult.

Whereas painless prospecting is built on the concept of propinquity.

Propinquity is a scientific theory that powers the formation of relationships. It says that if you bump into someone a lot, the higher the likelihood of you touching them more often, reading their content or meeting them in person, the more likely you are to like that person, providing you like them each time you meet.


You need to build your business on the concept of propinquity.

Tom’s painless prospecting philosophy is that you don’t walk away from SEO, but do get off your own blog. You need to think and care more about putting great content on other people’s blogs. Tom advises you to treat every blog as your own. When you put content in these places, they are called Propinquity Points.

You’ll learn how to develop a strategy for this to make sure you stay top of mind.

Tom shares a quick overview of where you can find places to provide content, but there is a whole chapter (Building a Painless Prospecting Platform) in his book where the process is laid out.

the invisible sale

Check out the chapter on Building a Painless Prospecting Platform.

If you pay attention to your industry or your prospects’ industry, you can usually sit down and list all the places that your prospective customers congregate online and offline. You’ll learn where these places might be. If you know your industry well enough, you will already know of 7-10 places without thinking. This is your first list.

You’ll discover how social listening software such as Radian6 or Sysomos can be beneficial to finding propinquity points for you.


Sysomos can help you find propinquity points for your business.

Once you find these points, you can create more opportunities for people to stumble across you and your brand. It’s a great way to get a good positive impression.

When you get off your own blog, your buyer doesn’t have to be in active research mode to stumble upon you. They might then click through to your blog and possibly sign up to read it. You’ll learn what can happen if you only stay on your own blog.

converse digital sign up

You could have people sign up to your blog who weren't in active research mode.

You’ll discover why you do your best content work when you write for someone else.

Tom advises you to write 4 or 5 posts for other blogs, staged over a 2-week period and keep an eye on your Google Analytics to see what happens. You’ll notice that you drive more traffic back to your site.

The more you write for these larger audiences, the bigger your chance of people coming over to your site to check out your content. For every 100 people who read your content somewhere else, around 5% will convert to signups. This is how to build propinquity at a blog base.

Tom is convinced that the way to win today is to get out there and treat yourself like a media empire.

Listen to the show to learn about the invisible component in Tom’s book title.

What marketers should avoid when using content to try to get a sale

Tom says there are two things marketers should avoid. Most people produce content at the wrong level. It’s normally the same single unit of content across their blog and podcast. So most feel that one blog post a week is enough without writing for others.

First you have to think about content creation as an ecosystem. You should never create one piece of content once. You should look for ways to repurpose it or even rechannel it.

converse digital blog

Make sure you repurpose your blog content.

You’ll learn about the ways you can turn one piece of content into more content.

Secondly, Tom states that there is a belief, especially among inbounders, that every piece of content needs to have a call to action. Although research proves calls to action get more conversions, Tom doesn’t really believe it. He feels there is still value in pure education.

You need to go out and educate your buyer. Don’t ask or expect anything in return. Tom states that most buyers know how to buy; you shouldn’t need to rely on a call to action for them to have enough confidence to contact you.

Listen to the show to find out why your content should always be of value.

This Week’s Social Media Question

Debra Keirce, a professional artist, asks, “As an artist, sometimes it will take years between contacting potential collectors and receiving a commission or a purchase. Are there specific social media tools that can be used to help develop, encourage and maintain these long-term relationships, so that the leads don’t go cold and people will recommend you to their friends, when at times they are not necessarily looking to buy themselves?”

debra keirce


This is a great question on how to keep top of mind with prospects who aren’t ready to buy.

The first thing I would recommend is to make sure you listen to this particular podcast for some great ideas. Here are a few examples of what you could do with your business.

  • Create time-lapse videos that showcase your processes
  • Create educational pieces
  • Become the conduit to prospects

When you put yourself in the position of the resource person rather than the salesperson, every time you communicate with prospects, it’s a way to stay top of mind. If, and when, they are ready to buy, they are more likely to come back to you or pass your details on to another prospect. You need to have regular touch points.

You’ll hear an example of what I received from people in the voice talent industry when I was a prospect and how my realtor markets his business using social media.

I hope you find this helpful.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how this works for you.

Other Show Mentions

Social Media Success Summit 2013

Social Media Success Summit 2013 is a special online conference designed to help you master social media marketing (brought to you by Social Media Examiner).

Social Media Success Summit 2013.

Forty-five of the world’s leading social media pros will show you how. Instructors include Jay Baer (author, Youtility), Chris Brogan (co-author, Impact Equation), Mari Smith (co-author, Facebook Marketing), Michael Stelzner (founder, Social Media Examiner), Mark Schaefer (author, Return on Influence), Jesse Stay (author, Google+ for Dummies), Amy Porterfield (co-author, Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies) and experts from General Electric, Sony, E! Online, Kelly Services and Discovery Channel–just to mention a few. Fully online. Click here to learn more.

We have finalized our brand panels and here are a few killer ones.

  • Instagram panel with Sony and E! Online
  • Online video panel with Discovery Communications and Salesforce
  • Pinterest marketing with Whole Foods and Target
  • Twitter marketing with GE and American Express
  • Facebook marketing with Walmart and NASA

We’ve got some incredible brands that will share what they do with social media. This is just a sample. There is an enormous amount of how-to content.

It’s an online conference, which means you don’t need to travel anywhere. It’s spread over an entire month and it’s live. If you want to learn more about it, be sure to check it out.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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  • Shelia

    Another excellent episode — thank you! I really appreciated simple approach and strategy to getting out in front of other people. Love my Friday workouts with you in my ears 🙂

  • Amazing Post!! Really an Insightful article. Thanks a ton for sharing. Amazing strategies and approach to follow.

  • Great ideas guys – social media has definately given businesses the ability to stay top-of-mind in consumers. Blog commenting is a great way to do this, and I’ll add Pinterest to the list.

    A business owner like Debra can create boards that provide a context around her products that give users new ideas to try out, ways to solve their problems that they didn’t know about, and reasons to buy that were’net apparent before.

    For example, Debra could create boards around how to design certain rooms of the house for different styles and usability, and include her art as some of the Pins. A consumer who wasn’t even thinking of buying new art, let alone redoing her house, could be inspired to do so by the board, and even buy some of Debra’s art to complete the look.

    Google still dominates for purchases made by people who want a product NOW. But if you can use methods like these to stay top-of-mind, you’ll be able to step in ahead of the normal sales funnel, making your competitors irrelevant.

  • Just stumbled upon your site…. love it, thank you very much for the podcast and the article – appreciate it. Your site is bookmarked for sure. Keep rocking !

  • Mike and Tom – GREAT episode. I really enjoyed the whole piece on “social agents” – they truly are an incredibly valuable member of your “marketing team”. Thanks for sharing the goods!

  • Tulai Paul

    Social Media has become the marketing bandwagon today. Now Social media does not only include facebook or twitter but even mobile is used as social media. Many mobile ad networks have been dominating the market with their mobile apps and games. Some of them are working on the international level like appnext or adcolony. We hope them to come up with marketing or brand promotion package soon.

  • Thanks Shelia – Glad to join you at the gym 🙂

  • Thanks Swapan

  • Thanks Reseo

  • Thanks for adding your ideas to the mix Nick!

  • Thanks John

  • Meg Cook

    Michael, You have an uncanny ability to ask the question that the listener is wondering as your guest speaks! The best part of this podcast was when Tom said, “If you can make your buyer better, funnier, smart or just better, then they will buy from you.”

  • David Epstein

    Michael, allow me to give a different
    perspective about this fine podcast, of which I learned and intend to apply. Perhaps
    I can do this since I am one of your social agents. Our social media consultant
    (Robyn Hawk) also recommends these approaches. That is most of it which we don’t
    already do. We do a lot and to a degree it works.

    This is what we found, at least in our arcane area –Professional gem
    buying and selling. We are buying agents in Brazil’s gem buying capital Teofilo
    Otoni. I also do gemstone business consulting where I recommend you.

    Where I differ are statements like “How buyers buy, has changed”. This very often leads new people in business/marketing
    to think that the old things don’t matter. This is an extremely dangerous path.
    I have seen people who have seen their mission as an educator; work hard, build
    respect and wait for incoming leads to do business. Usually they GO BROKE. We
    like to educate, but before we put in calls to action we were wasting time. We desperately
    try to educate our market, yet if one doesn’t say loud and clear that they will
    very happily welcome business they may very likely be perceived as an educator
    but receive even less income. In our case, and many I have helped in this
    business got even better when they did the ugly money hungry highly not
    recommended today no-no of attempting out going marketing.

    Does Tom think that the couple off the Cruise ship has carefully
    research the tourist items that they are going to buy? That people are no
    longer influenced by ancient good sales practices? Yes things have changed
    dramatically but not completely and if we forget that and our competition doesn’t
    It is not their fault. You said “The old ways of selling have change” yes, but
    not completely. If “buyers know how to buy” why do we need to educate them? Perhaps
    some of what was said could be re-examined. Otherwise we only live in Cyberspace
    or Nether Netherland and not the real world.

  • Thanks a lot for sharing such a valuable informations!

  • No problem!

  • Thanks Meg – It must be the Vulcan in me 🙂

  • Thanks much Vukasin

  • David,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think the key distinction here is to know where your customers are in the buying process. If you educate people and also know how to sell when they are ready to buy I think this is the ultimate solution.

    So there will always be a place for the sales team/person that understands how to adapt to the person he or she is talking to.

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  • Great article.Making your social media sites is not, in and of itself,enough. You must constantly communicate with your customers in order to generate interest in your products and promote your brand/product through relevant conversations.

  • Your mindset should be why the user needs rather than what the user needs i.e you have to stop thinking about how you sell instead you help buyers make a buying decision because the orthodox method for selling will not work for your business i.e you should focus more on build a relationship with the customer.

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  • David Epstein

    Michael, This is true. The points I felt could mislead less experience marketers down a often destructive path were; Mr. Martin suggestion – it would be nice if we didn’t have to make calls to action. Research shows this would be leading business people away from reality to fantasy. An excellent path for novelist but bad for business people. ” “The way buyers buy has changed” yes, but not completely. We must remember this. You still check the physical local market for your barbecue.
    Allow me to elaborate the cruise ship comment. Today on many Carribean Islands sales people are standing outside their jewelry stores and charmingly invite people in. They make $300-$50,000 sales every day. This is the most flagrant form of out going marketing. If both you and your competition both have all your incoming marketing down perfect but they have successful outgoing marketing and are doing better than you, it is not their fault.

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