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Why You Can’t Automate Relationship-Building in Account-Based Sales

account-based salesIn this month’s guest post, Tim Hughes discusses social media offenses and how account-based selling teams can avoid them.

You’re hosting a dinner party at your home. You invite some close friends and ask them to bring guests you don’t know, so everyone can forge new relationships and expand their networks.

On the night of the party, your first guest arrives with two friends. The doorbell rings again and again, and a flurry of guests arrive. You are so busy answering the door that you don’t greet people. You let them walk into your home without saying as much as “hello.”

That’s not exactly the best first impression when you’re trying to build new relationships, is it?

Account-based sales reps know better than to treat people that way in real life, so why treat people that way on social media? When you click buttons on LinkedIn and send standard invitation requests, that’s the same as opening your front door and letting people in without a greeting. It’s rude and counterproductive for relationship-building. And considering account-based sales is all about relationships, perhaps a different approach is in order.

This month’s guest blogger, Tim Hughes—author of Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers—discusses social selling offenses and how to rectify them. Here’s his take:

Social Selling Is About Relationships, Not Broadcasting

By Tim Hughes

The foundations to marketing started in the 1920s and developed to a point in the 1950s. From looking at many companies’ social media presence, marketing strategies have not changed much since then.

“Broadcast” marketing is a simple concept: You throw lots of “mud” at the wall, and some of it will stick. In the “Mad Men” days, the people with the biggest advertising budgets sold the most product. The bigger the budget, the more mud you had to throw. Simple.

What’s Changed Since the 1950s?

When I first started out in sales some 27 years ago, we sent out mail shot letters. The more we sent, the theory was, the better the outcome of the campaign.

Then email was invented, and we could scale up the number of mail shots sent out, and better still, we didn’t need to buy stamps. Emails are free. When I first started using email, the word “spam” hadn’t been invented, thankfully.

Moving onto the modern day, social media was invented, but have we really changed what we do? Look at the average B2B Twitter feed—it’s 1950s broadcast in a modern social media wrapper!

As somebody at a marketing agency recently said to me: “We keep firing out those emails. It’s a pity the open rate keeps going down.”

Let’s Be Honest Here

Dear reader, let’s be honest here …

People don’t read ads anymore

We fast forward through ads on the TV

Call me, and if I don’t recognize your number in my phone, I won’t take the call

Send me an email, and if I don’t know you, it will end up in my junk file or get deleted

None of us care about your company or products

The most important person in the world is me

Please take a few seconds to review your company’s social media feeds. Are you only posting about you, your company, and how great you are?

I’m sorry, but none of us cares!

I was checking out a “Digital Practice” on Twitter the other day, and their feed was all about them. Even the photos of them picking up litter in the branded T-shirts were all about them. I asked a question on Twitter. Nothing happened.

Control, Control, Control

Some of you will have already switched off from this blog, as no broadcast means loss of control. As one senior marketer recently put it, “We cannot trust the employees to post the right things on social media, so we tightly control everything.”

How can you control the message? I’m sorry, but the genie is out of the bottle. This is what we mean when we talk about digital marketing (I prefer to drop the “digital” and call it just “marketing”) and social selling (I prefer to drop the “social” and call it “selling”).

Maybe some training might help?

The “A Ha” Moment!

The list above of places where I ignore brands is pretty damning. That said, as a customer, it is probably easier to contact me (or anyone else) than at any time ever in history.

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We all love brands—both B2C and B2B—and we all have customers and advocates that would love to interact with us and be part of our community.

Social now reaches across the whole organization, not just sales and marketing, but human resources, finance, purchasing, research and development, returns, after market, supply chain, etc.

Which means it’s a corporate-wide (dare I say, C-suite) issue. Social is both internal and external, and in an age of cloud and standardization (all the IT systems will be the same regardless of company or industry), it will provide you with your competitive advantage.

Social Strategy—Got One?

Your organization needs a “top down and bottom up” social strategy that reaches across all departments—where everybody knows what the strategy is, how to interact with customers, the tone of voice, and brand message. Oh, by the way, you could also kill the competition, but don’t tell them I told you.

The Cool Thing Is This

People are more likely to buy from friends—people they have a relationship with, people they have something in common with, and people who have been referred. Build relationships on social, and those people are more likely to buy from you.

(Note: The original version of this article appeared on Curatti. It has been slightly edited and republished with permission from Tim Hughes.)

About the Author

Tim Hughes is co-founder of Digital Leadership Associates, a company that provides support and guidance in all areas of social, as well as social selling. He has been called “an innovator and pioneer” of social selling, and in the recent Onalytica list of the most influential social sellers globally, Tim was number 1. You can tweet Tim @timothy_hughes, read his blog—The Social Selling Network—and download or order his book “Social Selling – Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers” from Amazon.


Copyright: racorn / 123RF Stock Photo

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