Social Networking Isn’t the Next Best Thing…
…You are! It’s the personal connection-still-that seals the deal.
The Internet, social networking, and other breakthroughs in technology have fundamentally changed the way we do business. New technology drives communications, messaging, and information access at warp speed, and our clients expect immediate access. This pattern of ever-increasing speed and sophistication not only creates an intensely competitive marketplace, but places further demands on us to act and react quickly.
The rise of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and LinkedIn have lured many sales pros into scaling back their personal interactions and relying on social media to surface “qualified leads.”
Social media is a powerful tool for three things and three things only:
1. Search engine optimization-use your key words and raise your presence on the web
2. Find out who people are-learn about a person’s background and your connections
3. Find out who people know-look for close connections that you can leverage
Some salespeople tell me they actually get clients through social media. Well, maybe if you have a commodity business. Could it happen? Yes. Do I rely on it? Absolutely not. I only count on what I bring about-through a proactive, intentional, referral strategy with personal introductions.
To Know You Is to Like You
There’s a saying in sales: Clients buy with emotion and justify with fact. If our clients don’t like us or don’t feel comfortable with us, they won’t buy from us. You can wow your clients with technology know-how now and try to win them over later, once they find out you’re honest and reliable. But the reality is, you need people to start liking you within the first few seconds of your relationship. You need to start off on the right foot. Fancy gizmos won’t make that happen. But a trusted referral and a personal connection will.
Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google, in his commencement address to the graduating class of the University of Pennsylvania in May 2009, urged college graduates to step away from the virtual world and make human connections. “Turn off your computer. You’re actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us.” (View the commencement address video here.)
To Like You Is to Trust You
The most important business decisions are still based on personal relationships. There is significant research about why customers make buying decisions. Bottom line: It’s because they like and trust the salesperson and his organization. Think about it. We’re selling services, investments, systems, products… we’re asking for people’s time and money! Why would they work with someone who hasn’t been referred?
3 Winning Tips
That said, a social media presence is a must-have in today’s world. Start this way:
1. Develop a social media strategy-Like a sales plan or a marketing plan, write your social media plan. What is your goal, who is your audience, what do you communicate? Leverage social media as part of your go-to-market strategy. How does your strategy link to your customer’s needs and your business priorities?
2. Establish relationships-Take the time to build your personal connections, pick up the phone and talk to people. Just because you have a name in hand, doesn’t mean you have a relationship.
3. Communicate useful information-Social sites are not for selling. They are for establishing connections, identifying ways to collaborate, and providing value. What tips can you provide? Link to other sites that you recommend. Be recognized as the expert and build your web presence. Be a resource.
To Trust You Paves the Way
The most energizing and exciting part of our work is the relationships with our clients-the interaction. We enjoy learning about our client’s business and matching our solutions to their needs. In an era dominated by ever-expanding technology and social media pressures, always remember that personal connections, referrals, and earning trust are what count. Yes, it requires brainpower. But isn’t that what we love about what we do? Indeed.