Do You Have Social Media Integrity?
“Hello, can I speak to the person in charge of your telecommunications?” So began each day in my first sales job. Cold call after cold call would yield a few conversations. From these conversations I’d get fewer appointments and those appointments would turn into precious few sales. Back in 1991, this ecosystem of B2B selling drove results the only way we knew how.
It also made me feel so dirty that by the end of the day I needed to take a second shower.
After 20 years on the phone, enough was enough. Social media had changed how people connected and communicated, and it was time to update the sales process. I struck out on my own determined to show that this could be done, that social selling was fundamentally different than the old ways of doing things. A brighter day for buyer and seller was upon us.
Through social media I learned to communicate more effectively with my clients using content tailored to their needs and interests. It was the polar opposite of cold calling. It required intellect, wit, and understanding a prospect’s business. Most of all it required integrity.
So why is it I am having a crisis of conscience? Why is it that every time I speak with someone in the social selling world, I feel like I need to take one of those long showers?
It’s because we are slipping backwards.
Social selling has quickly progressed from a revolutionary new way of doing business to a problem set that hundreds of online tools have set out to fix. In the process, social selling is associating with some pretty base bed-fellows: questionable marketing automation tools, spam bots, manufactured retweets…and those determined to game the system using greasy SEO.
Instead of making a hundred cold calls, these new tools can have bots spam thousands of prospects and flood social media with click-bait. Everyone is selling something. LinkedIn profiles make claims instead of telling us about individuals. Enterprising Twitter users set out to conquer you by getting you to follow them so they can slap a pitch under your nose via an automated DM. Brands have forgotten what it means to educate customers as they blindly search for ways to gain online followers.
It is laughable! “Following” assumes that some is leading. Many of these brands are so focused on looking backwards at their long line of followers that they would never know if they were walking toward a cliff’s edge.
But it isn’t too late. Believe me, going back to a world of brute-force sales is not worth it. Just because we can now harness machines to do the talking have we really evolved? Here’s how innovative businesses are bucking the trend, making more sales and keeping their integrity intact:
- By creating content that customers want to read. How? Ask your sales team how your products are solving problems for your customers. Align your differentiators in the market with your prospects and truly help them to build a better business with your assistance.
- By training the sales teams how to be good social citizens. Help them unleash all their experience and know-how in the online world. Get them to start asking provoking questions instead of blasting more advertisements.
- By remembering that their business is built on people not branding. Your social brand pages need to highlight your people and drive customers to those people for answers and discussion of tough questions. Brands should promote what individuals accomplish and not the other way around.
If you have ever spent a day cold calling and have experienced that soul-crushing feeling at the end of the day, for goodness sakes, heed my warning. It is not too late to put integrity back in sales. Social media has the power to either save this profession or kill it once and for all.
Sander Biehn is the founder of Thought Horizlon, LLC. Thought Horizon provides strategy, execution and training for business to business sales and marketing. See www.thought-horizon.com for more details