Ryan Leavitt is CRO at LearnCore and President/Co-Founder of Catapult. Ryan's post "The #1 Sales Buzzword of 2014" originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.
As 2015 kicks off, I spent some time thinking about what we accomplished in 2014 at LearnCore, how we did it, and what I learned. As I reflected, I kept coming back to a practice I stumbled upon – it’s what sales experts call “social selling”. To an outsider, “social selling” may seem like the #1 sales buzzword of 2014 – and, in fact, it probably is. But, at the end of the day, “social selling” is how business gets done, prospects get identified, and connections are made. Sales people have the opportunity to connect with buyers and influencers, provide just-in-time content, and begin a sales cycle long before ever making a cold call or sending a cold e-mail.
Jack Kosakowski (@JackKosakowski1) a friend of mine and social selling thought leader who I connected with last year on LinkedIn (of course), defines social selling as: “… just leveraging social media to build a network of people who you are looking to help (Non selfishly)! If you help enough people… Your network will grow and the sales will follow!”
**Also check out Jack’s article on how to get started: Social Selling – So Easy A Baby Could Do It**
By 2015, social networks have provided everyone with an incredible way to connect – if you are in sales, building relationships is paramount to success and you should be using every resource available to give you a leg up and build relationships. Over the last few years, LinkedIn has become a resource I can’t live without, so much so that I always have a LinkedIn tab open in my browser...literally, ALWAYS. I have connected with clients, advisors, investors, influencers, friends, and even extended family – who have all been instrumental in the growth of LearnCore as well as my personal growth in 2014. More importantly, however, I have hopefully been able to help them achieve their goals, make valuable connections, and grow their businesses as well. (side note: try to pay attention to the time you spend helping others achieve their goals this year – you will be amazed how much it benefits you personally and professionally. Additional food for thought, read “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann)
As Jack writes in his article referenced above, “Social Selling” should come naturally. Using social networks and platforms to build your brand, generate awareness, and grow your network is something that you are most likely already trying to do. That said, building mutually beneficial relationships is an art. In my opinion, the way to make “Social Selling” effective, is not by selling at all, but by becoming a valuable resource, educator, and friend. I keep the following three things in mind whenever I practice “Social Selling”.
#1 Be Genuine and Direct – Say why you want to connect, what you are interested in discussing, and why you think it will be beneficial. Messages should be clear and concise.
#2 Do some research – Prove your genuine interest/reason for reaching out - do some homework! Reference a recent article they posted, mention something in their background or profile that is relevant, or other connections you may have. Help warm up the cold message, nobody will reply to a salesy, cookie-cutter message.
#3 Go For it – Influencers publish because they are knowledgeable and passionate about a topic. If it truly is something that interests you as well, you will have additional thoughts, questions, or ideas to discuss. Rather than just reading the article, reach out to the author, reference the article/post, and be direct.
If you try this, the worst-case scenario is that you don’t get a response (so what!). But more times than not, if you are genuine, do your research, and engage the author, you will start a valuable conversation.