I want to invite you to an event in which I am a participant a couple weeks from now. The segment of the event I am participating in is called “The Death of Social Selling?” I want to share a few ideas with you here about the value of social selling and what my complaints have been from those who promote social selling as the only method of prospecting.

Social Selling

This event is June 21st at 1:15 PM here: The Death of Social Selling

What’s Wrong with Social Selling

First, the problem that I have with the way social selling is presented is three-fold. It is presented as the panacea for building a pipeline of opportunities, and it is not, nor will it ever be. It has been sold as a replacement for cold calling, to the detriment of sales people, sales organizations, and the prospective clients who need their help. Those who sell social selling present it as the only method salespeople will use now—and forever into the future. They make this case using “statistics” that are suspect to anyone who actually sells.

Second, providing people with the belief that they don’t have to do what is necessary to succeed hurts those people. Social is more fun than cold calling, but it’s a bit like a fitness plan built on Netflix and ice cream. I have personally met salespeople who are not taking care of themselves or their family because they are not doing the work necessary to produce results. This is always true for some portion of any sales force, but they have never been provided with an excuse that is supported by so many who claim to be sales improvement specialists.

Third, the people who promote and sell social media over-index on results when it comes to creating opportunities. Their conceit is in believing that everyone else will experience the same results of their incestuous, content-marketing, mostly supported and shared by other believers. When you promote social selling to people who want to believe that social selling is all that you have promised, it’s easy to get attention. The salesperson wants to believe they don’t need to prospect. Their company wants to do something to help them create more opportunities, and struggles to help them improve their effectiveness at doing so.

I want you to notice something about people who are well known in social selling: they are all content creators. What they are doing is content marketing, and it is extraordinarily powerful. A someone who writes 365 blog posts a year, now records daily vlog that will match that 365, sends a weekly newsletter each week, posts to Instagram with created content 5 times a week, and shares all of this content on multiple channels, I can tell you that it produces results. The problem is, most people can’t do this.

Think about the salespeople in financial services and pharmaceutical. They would not be permitted to create the kind of content that is worth looking at because it would never be approved by their legal department. Think about the people who sell industrial-type stuff, whose prospects aren’t on LinkedIn at all, nor do they Tweet. Think about the advice that is given, like post a blog post three times a week. If you have 600 salespeople writing a single blog post a week, how do you manage the workflow to ensure that the post is on point, well-written, and passes a legal review?

Most people don’t want to write content, and many more are horrified at being on camera. While there is plenty of content to share on the social channels, the vast rewards go to the creator, not the curator. Most people who use the social channels are consumers of content.

Finally, no one who actually works in sales improvement believes that salespeople should choose to use a single method, and they all include the social channels as a method to be employed. Those who preach the gospel of social believe and demand that there is only one medium, and that medium is the social channels. Where we are omni, they believe there is a single method, that all others have been rendered obsolete.

There is a place for the social tools in sales, even though I am, beginning to see that the digital transformation of sales is going to allow for intimacy at scale, a framework and a presentation I have been building for the last year. I’ve also started writing an eBook about Intimacy at Scale, but my real book, The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales is less than two months from the launch date (August 8th), so that eBook has to wait.

Social is Dead. Long Live Digital.

I will tell you that social selling, as it has been presented and promoted up to this point, is dead. The promises made were never kept. It massively over-promised and under-delivered.

If social worked as promised, then LinkedIn would not require their salespeople to make cold calls. If it allowed you create opportunities you couldn’t create without making a cold call, I would not have received a cold call from Hubspot, the leader in inbound marketing. If there were no other methods of prospecting available, you would not have seen Gary Vaynerchuk, who uses the social tools better than anyone on Earth, tell two young app developers that he won’t take a meeting unless they cold email and cold call all their prospects and provide him documented proof.

We have never used any channel to its full effect without years of experience, and without making serious adjustments. This is going to be true for the social channels, and it is going to be true for the digital tools that follow. Right now, social is above the funnel, but I don’t believe that this will be true as sales evolves in its use of digital.

Comment to send me your thoughts, ideas, and stories. Hit forward to send this newsletter to someone you know who could benefit from thinking about prospecting and where social fits. Ask them to join us here each Sunday by signing up at www.thesalesblog.com/newsletter.

Do good work this week, and I’ll see you back here next Sunday!

Anthony Iannarino

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Contributor Anthony Lannarino is an entrepreneur, speaker, author, and consultant. He writes daily at www.thesalesblog.com and you can subscribe to his newsletter at www.thesalesblog.com/newsletter.