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Social Selling: Are You Already Too Late?

By Sander Biehn | Feb 15, 2015

Eastman Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975. Yes, 1975. So why did it take another 20 years before digital photography was available to the masses?

Because Kodak executives attempted to cling to the past instead of leading the way into the future.

In 1975 most of Kodak’s business came from film sales and from developing that film. Since digital photography eliminates the need for film and developing, Kodak saw it as a direct threat to their business. Instead of recognizing digital as the future of photography, they stayed the course with film and tucked away the digital technology.

When other companies eventually launched digital cameras, Kodak still believed it wasn’t a threat to their business, so they didn’t pursue digital seriously. By the time Kodak finally realized that digital would completely eliminate film, it was too late. Kodak is now bankrupt and struggling to survive.  

Adapt or die

The lesson here is that you can’t prevent the future. The world changes whether you want it to or not, and if you don’t adapt to the change, it will be fatal.

Change is inevitable; however, people become set in their ways very easily. People frequently refuse to learn new ways of doing things that would improve their own productivity because learning the new way is painful for them. I know of at least one current Fortune 500 CEO who does not use a computer because he doesn’t want to change.

Why Social Selling is here to stay

Social selling may seem like a buzzword or a fad, but when you look at what social selling is, you’ll find it is here to stay. Social selling is the natural evolution of sales in a world where everyone is connected electronically via social networks. Social Selling is like the digital camera of the sales world. Twenty years from now, only the old-timers will remember a world where sales wasn’t always social. In 20 years, what we call “social selling” today will be only referred to as “sales.”

Right now, most companies are still trying to figure out B2C social media. They don’t recognize the important shift that’s gaining momentum in B2B sales. They believe that once they figure out B2C social, then they can consider using social for B2B selling; however, if they wait that long, it will probably be too late. In fact, it could already be too late.

The early adopters of social selling are working to perfect their strategies and best practices right now. By the time many businesses identify the need to use social to sell, the fortress walls will have already been built.

The 21st Century way to build relationships and solve problems

Selling is all about building relationships and solving problems. Social media is a tool to do both. It provides easy access to your customers and instantaneous access to information. Your customers are already using the internet to research solutions to their problems. By the time they’re ready to make a purchase decision, they already know 90% of the answers to their questions.

To survive in sales, your company must be part of that process. You must start a social selling program now. Teach your marketing and sales teams to provide helpful content, not just marketing gobbledygook. Be a knowledgeable resource for your customers, find them early in their process, and then be prepared to propose a solution that is specific to their needs.

Social selling is really just selling. When people use the old sales adage “go to where the customers are,” it doesn’t mean trade conferences and country clubs anymore; it now means LinkedIn and Twitter.

Would you ever connect your brain directly to the internet?

Selling will continue to evolve. It is quite possible that technology will advance to the point where our brains are connected directly to the internet. Yes, I know it’s a scary thought. Everyone’s first reaction is always “I’ll never do that.” However, if the technology exists, someone will use it. And that someone will have a major advantage over everyone else. Eventually a few more people will start using it to gain that advantage. Eventually, it will reach the tipping point. If you’re the only one without a connected brain, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage.

So I ask the question again: Is it better to delay changing until you’re at a disadvantage, or get on board early and reap the rewards?

Welcome to social selling.

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