Many people ask me: What is social selling and can I use it to replace traditional selling?

Jeb Blount once said that sales and social selling are like mashed potatoes and gravy.  This is a perfect analogy for social selling. It does not replace traditional sales. But putting the two together can be extremely powerful.

Social selling is the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process. Nowadays, this takes place via social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Now, let’s look at social selling and how to use it to support your sales to big clients.

Social selling can be used in the following ways:

Brand Building

Whenever you approach a client, your social profile establishes a first impression. Think of it as your first ‘hello’ or the outfit you wear on your first date. Whether you like it or not, your clients will form a first impression about you before even speaking with you. So, how to build a brand that will resonate with your client?

Jason Van Order is the marketing and branding consultant for self-made influencers. When I spoke with him about using social media to build a powerful brand, Jason talked about 3 simple ingredients:

He said: “Something that is of 1) Great importance to you 2) Great value to your clients/customers and 3) Has a great impact on the world.

If you can tell a story about your brand that encompasses all three of those ingredients, you’ll have a brand that stands out and galvanizes an audience.”

So, whenever you are using social media to build an online presence, think about this: Does the information I provide relate to one of these 3 ingredients?

Know Your Clients

I absolutely love using social media to know my prospects “neck-bleeding pains”. This is the most powerful and under-used strategy when selling to big clients.

During my webinar “3 Winning Strategies for selling to big clients,” I discuss how to discover clients’ pains and priorities before even meeting with them.  Sign up to know how I use social media to discover clients’ needs and create urgent value propositions to align with their ‘neck-bleeding pains’. This is the best strategy to create an urgent reaction from your clients.

Find Six Degrees of Separation

“How do I get in front of my big clients?” This is probably one of the most commonly asked questions I hear from people. We have a great offering and would like to show it to the right people. But, how do we do this?

The thought of getting in front of big clients seems even more daunting, since big clients tend to have many gatekeepers to weed off unnecessary distractions.

The more traditional way to find big clients is Cold Calls. But, an IBM preference study shows that cold calls are ineffective 97% of the time. So, what do we do?

Now we have social channels to find six degrees of separation with the big clients.

You might wonder: Why would I have any connections with big clients?

Use LinkedIn to find your degrees of connection. But, don’t stop at typing in your prospective client’s name. Look closely at who they are connected with and who they work with. Connecting with their entourage first is a great way to establish the connection with a big client.

Another great place to find 6 Degrees of Separation is via online mastermind groups, such as Facebook groups or LinkedIn Groups. This form of networking has become increasingly popular and effective in connecting with your prospective clients.

Trigger Events

Social channels can help you find the trigger events and generate reasons to calls. Use social media to track your prospective clients’ important events and contact them when timing is of an essence. This will create an urgency and force your prospective clients to take immediate action. Check out my blog on how to use trigger events and reason-to-call techniques to generate more sales.

After discussing these useful ways to social selling, one thing that is not discussed is the actual sale itself. Despite having the powerful tools to get closer to our clients, social channels do not replace traditional sales.

I see many entrepreneurs spending time on social channels to engage with their prospective clients. While it is great to follow our prospective clients, we still need to contact these clients with an impactful value proposition, discovering the clients’ pains and overcoming their objections.

Just like what we talked about. Social selling and sales are like gravy and mashed potatoes. You wouldn’t just have the gravy without the mashed potatoes. Once you have used social channels to build your brand, research your clients, establish contacts and find the trigger events, you still need to present your solutions to your clients and close the sales.

What do you think? Do you agree with me?