Social Selling - A New Word For An Old Concept

Social selling is becoming a big buzz word – but what does it mean?

According to Hubspot, the real-life definition of social selling is: 

“the process of researching, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks. Through commenting, liking and sharing prospects’ and customers’ posts, salespeople create relationships with buyers and boost their credibility by taking an interest in what they’re interested in.”

This is much different than your old manager’s impersonation of Glengarry Glenross and the adage, “ABC. Always Be Closing.” So, how did we get here?  What changed?  Well, for one, social selling isn’t new.  It’s actually as old school as they come… 

Before the internet, things were a little different.

Back then, the average word-of-mouth recommendation went to 9 people. Local businesses grew their patronage by providing true value to the customer in both their product and their customer service. This story is best told in Mary B. Lucas’ book, “Lunchmeat and Life Lessons,” where she talks about how her father, the owner of a butcher shop, built his business from the ground up by creating deep connections with his community. In this story, a man with an 8th grade education put most business professionals to shame through his genuine sincerity and contagious positivity. What he called “comeback sauce” is one of the most universal concepts in business and is the key component of “social selling.”  People come back to you because you created value, and, most importantly, they tell their friends of their experience with your product/service.  

Now, think of social selling as your community’s butcher shop- only your community is much larger… 

The days before the internet and social media are becoming a distant memory. Now, when someone has a remarkably good/bad experience, 42 people hear about it via word-of-mouth and social media. The principle is the same – people talk just like they did “back then”, but now they have a much bigger audience (for better or worse – PRO TIP:  Stay off Twitter and Facebook during the 2016 Election cycle ;) ).  

It’s easy to over-complicate, but it ultimately comes down to the same principles:
-    Your personal brand is important.
-    Be “neighborly”.
-    Provide value before asking for the sale.
-    Service is everything- deliver on your promises and positive word-of-mouth will follow.

Social selling is actually more "old school" than you think.

Social selling is going back to the days pre-internet and running your business like you would if your customers were your neighbors.  Going back to “doing the right thing” and consistently leaving your customers with a “WOW” experience.  Not cold calling and hoping for that low hanging fruit.  
In our view, social selling isn’t “new age” but it’s as “old school” as it comes – treat your customers like you would if they could tell all of your prospects about their experience with your brand.  Because, for that butcher shop back in the day, they could. 

Kate Jacoutot is the Marketing Consultant for Spire Workforce Solutions. To learn more about Kate, visit her website.

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Kate Jacoutot

Spire Workforce Solutions, 5575 Peachtree Dunwoody Road Northeast, Building C, Suite 240, Sandy Springs, GA, 30342, United States