On Thursday I published a post called The Truth About Social Selling. You can go read it if you want to, but I’ll give you the jist of it here: there is no such thing as social selling because it is really marketing.
A lot of people in the world of sales reached out to tell me that they appreciated that I wrote that post. These people understand that I am trying to prevent salespeople from failing by buying the idea that they don’t have to really sell. They especially need to prospect using the old methods, like picking up the phone. But there is more to this story, and I am going to share my ideas about social media and sales here with you.
You Are a Brand or You Are Invisible
As a salesperson, sales leader, businessperson, entrepreneur, or success-minded individual, you either establish a brand or you are invisible. You are either known for your ideas, your experiences, and the value you create or you are a secret agent. A secret agent is really good at what they do, but nobody know what they do.
We mistakenly believe that the social media tool kit is here for us to research our dream clients, overlooking the fact that they can just easily Google us to determine whether or not we are worth investing their time. And they are looking back and making that decision. And it does matter what your picture looks like on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Too many people haven’t spent any real time establishing their identity online. Too few have thought through how they are going to be viewed by their customers, their dream clients, their peers, their competitors, and the people who might provide them their next opportunity. Some still believe that they aren’t a brand, and some don’t want to be. The people who resist setting up their online identity are going to lose opportunities to those that do.
You have never had the more tools or a simpler way to establish your brand than you do right now.
It’s the Creative’s World. You’re Just Living In It.
Anything that can be automated is being automated. Anything that can be done by a computer with little or no human interaction is being moved in that direction. Soon, things that are done by human beings will be done by robots, and many manufacturing tasks are already done by robots, even if they don’t yet look like humans. A few weeks ago, Mercedes Benz just put its first driverless delivery truck on the road.
The world we live in increasingly belongs to the creative. Because the tools are available, if you are a writer, you can now publish. If you are a musician, you can now publish and sell your work, too. If you are a photographer, Instagram.
But business is an equally creative endeavor. Business is fueled by innovation at a level that leaves all of the creative endeavors I listed above in the dust. The value in social is the ability to share these ideas, but the creators are the ones who are going to get all of the attention and build their brands. That said, there is also going to be a role for critics, curators, and synthesizers.
You are a business artist. You are a creative, even if you don’t yet know it. And if you are in sales, you are a indeed a marketer.
If you work inside a company, know that marketing would do better to arm the sales force with tools they can use to nurture relationships than argue over whether or not a lead is qualified.
The Strange Disappearance of the Middle
There is a war going on right now. That war is over the commoditization of everything. If you shop at Wal-Mart you have chosen sides. If you shop at Amazon.com you’ve made a choice, maybe on you didn’t intend. These are two of the most well-recognized leaders in the commoditization of everything. Their goal is to make everything a frictionless transaction. They eliminate the middle man, the wholesaler, while also eliminate caring and experience.
But in order for there to be a war, there has to be another side. There are some people who know that caring matters. There are some business who believe that experience matters. I tend to be hired to speak, coach, and do workshops for business on this side of the battle, people who charge more and provide far greater outcomes. People and companies like this resist becoming transactional and work to differentiate themselves.
The casualties in this war haven’t been on either of the sides I just mentioned. It’s been those in the mushy middle, the businesses that aren’t transactional enough to win there while also not being differentiated, caring, and value-creating to win on that side. They’re getting pulled apart.
What you do, why you do it, and who you do it for is going to need to be increasingly clear to your market. You are going to be forced to make a choice as to who you serve and where you are going to fight. Regardless of your choice, your customers are already searching. They already live on the social web. You need their attention. You need to be very clear about who you are and why you do what you do.
I’m not anti-social. I’m a proponent of using the social media tools, but not as a replacement for the necessary sales activities that follow them.