‘Social Selling’ has been widely quoted in blogposts and industry reports as an emerging sales methodology in the era of social media. It has learnt to be contributed to an organization (especially B2B organizations) substantially. Recently, I had the privilege of receiving a signed copy of ‘You Are The Key’, a book focused on social selling authored by Apurva Chamaria and Gaurav Kakkar (my seniors at HCL Technologies). I found this book genuinely informative. I hereby share some of the key learning I had after reading this book.
What is Social Selling?
Before we look at the learning from the book, lets first understand the term. In the authors’ words – Social Selling is a systematic process that requires the seller to ‘reach’ out to their potential customers on social networks and spend time with them. It means to ‘discover’ and understand the customer better than the competition. This proceeds to ‘engagement’ whereby, applying the expertise from across the organisation, one is meaningfully, adding value to the customer. Finally, to ‘act’ by focusing on the opportunities that create the most profit’.
Let’ now go through some of my key learning:
1) Evolution of Sales Methodologies: The first chapter of the book introduces readers to how sales methodologies have evolved over the period of time. The chapter is very detailed with coverage from earliest sales methodologies like ‘barter’ to the latest methodology of ‘social selling’. The chapter covers details about ‘Product Selling’, ‘Persuasive Selling’, ‘Solution Selling’, ‘Value Selling’ etc. It is an informative read for any young professional who has plunged into the sales role. the detailed timeline of various sales methodologies sets a good foundation for readers to understand how sales process has changed with not only the time but also with the change in business ecosystem and technology intervention.
2) Social Selling is different from Social Media Marketing: Many still confuse or use ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ interchangeably. In the context of social media, there is high probability for this confusion to prevail. Hence, it seems authors have been mindful and dedicated couple of pages in the first chapter to clarify the difference between ‘social selling’ and ‘social media marketing’. Quoting verbatim from the book, the differences to be:
a) Social selling is focused on sales professionals, rather than marketing professionals
b) Social selling aims to cultivate one-on-one relationships, rather than broadcast one-to-many messages
c) In traditional business terms, social media marketing efforts supplement the sales process in any organisation. When it comes to social selling, sales and marketing do not work in complimentary terms, but converge in their exercise to generate more awareness, engage with potential customer and convert them to possible leads.
3) Six Steps of Social Selling Process: It always helps when there is a list of activities for people to understand how far have they progressed in the journey. The book clearly lists the six steps of social selling as – i) Understanding the social platforms and creating your persona, ii) Publishing content to suit your persona, iii) Identifying prospects, iv) Listening, v) Approaching prospects and customers, vi) Engaging prospects and nurturing relationships. Each of this point has been covered in detailed in each chapter of the book.
4) Importance of Personal Brand: Authors highlight that its imperative for sales professionals or for that matter any professional to build their own personal brand. Businesses don’t have between two organizations but because of the trust and respect one professional has for the counterpart. Creating a compelling social media persona, having appropriate social media etiquettes and behaving in a responsible manner on social media channels are basic requisites for a sales professional. Hence, it becomes inevitable for sales professionals to build a strong personal brand on social media channels. According to authors sellers on social media channels could be a The Storyteller or The Confidante or Advisor, depending on the tactics they employ to engage with prospects. The third chapter of the book details out all basic steps that one should consider to build a strong personal brand on key platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus.
5) Content Curation, Creation and Publishing is key to Social Selling: Given the fact that sales professionals are always on the go and mostly will find paucity of time, it becomes crucial for them to understand the content curation, creation and publishing tactics. Quality of content shared on one’s social media channel is what projects the personal brand. So, sales professionals should follow an effective content strategy aligned to their sales funnel, listen and respond to all conversations that come their way and more importantly should also measure effectiveness of content they share. Chapter 4 of the book talks about do’s and don’ts about content curation/creation/publishing, lists down few tools to curate content (SmartBrief, Hootsuite, Buffer, Alltop etc.) and also lists down few tips to publish content. These tips would help any sales professional for publishing content on any social media channel.
6) Engaging Prospects is crucial for Social Selling success: As it happens in an offline conversation / negotiation, it is imperative for sales professionals to be vocal and engaging on social media channels to arrive at successful end. Facebook lists, Twitter lists, LinkedIn Groups are some of the simple tricks of listening the prospects and engaging with them on regular basis. The conversations should happen on a regular basis. Chapter 7 of the book talks about all tips and details about having an engaging conversation on key social media channels.
7) Enterprise Social Selling Framework is needed for large organizations: This was the fantastic takeaway for me from the book. The framework suggested by authors is very detailed and will be helpful for any large organization who wish to roll out the Social Selling program. The framework consists highlights three key phases of this program – Pre-Launch, Execution and Post-Launch. The key aspect of framework is to have detailed governance mechanisms and adequate change management tactics to be taken care of across all stages of the program. The framework helps one understand the key responsibilities of marketing department, vendors, sales team, sales support etc. The program can’t be successful without the valuable contribution of all stakeholders.
I am sure this book would be of great help for beginners in Social Selling. Go grab your copy now!