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Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks

I don’t want to mince words. But there is a striking difference between social selling and selling on social media. Although the difference may seem subtle and benign, it’s an important difference to know.

While social selling is all about helping a potential buyer through their journey, selling on social media just means you’re being a traditional salesperson that happens to use social media. This means you’re likely to be just as pushy on social media as you are on every other medium you use.

Here are some observations we’ve made from training tens of thousands of sales professionals.

Listen up, folks! If you’re social selling in the following ways, you’re not really socially selling; you’re just an old-school salesperson using social media.

1. Keep it short and sweet

I’ve seen people write ridiculously long LinkedIn messages. Why would you do this? This is just carrying on the same behavior from a cold call or your blind email strategy. Keep in mind that most decision makers you’re targeting don’t have the time to read your messages on email or listen to long voice mails. So why in the world would they respond to long messages on LinkedIn?

2. Don’t socially cold call

Let’s call this being trigger happy. I’ve seen sales pros go nuts when they find their prospects/potential buyers online and they just hit the “Connect” button on LinkedIn. Their excitement fogs their judgment.

If you don’t know someone on LinkedIn or have no context or relevance, then asking to blindly connect is the social equivalent of a cold call. It’s typically not welcome.

3. Stop leaving the same message

When you cold call, do you leave the same voice mail over and over again? If so, please don’t do that using social selling. You’re going to have to get creative and add new ideas at every turn. The boilerplate approach doesn’t work.

4. Don’t sound like every salesperson

Do you ever wonder what a busy decision maker does with voice mails? You guessed right – they get deleted! The reason is because virtually every sales person’s pitch sounds the same. Watch Fred here and you’ll see what I mean. When is the last time a prospect returned your voice mail?

When you’re social selling, your messages can’t be the same. Here’s what you have going for you: most salespeople are still leaving boring, social messages online. Be different, stand out and grab attention. Wondering how to do that? Try a little bit of content marketing.

The bottom line

These are just some of the many reasons you’ll fail at social selling if you’re just being “salesy” online. With every medium there is some etiquette you need to know.

Do yourself a favor and know the proper rules of engagement when using social media. Are your clients and potential buyers online? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s open season to continue your same ineffective strategies online.

Remember, social selling is vastly different from just selling on social media. Keep this front of mind when starting your social journey.

Jamie Shanks is the Managing Partner at Sales for Life, a social selling training and coaching company. Jamie has built social selling solutions in nearly every industry, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. Prior to Sales for Life, Jamie was the Director of Sales at two SaaS software companies, Captive Channel Corp. and Firmex Inc., building their businesses from infancy to profitability. Jamie is also the Toronto chapter president of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals and holds an MBA from the University of South Australia.

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