Social Selling and Buying – Is there a link?
By Pamela Matthews
I love being sold to. Maybe it’s because I come from a sales background and I know how challenging sales can be so I have empathy for the sales person, or maybe it’s because I’m lazy and would rather the information come to me. Who knows, but I would much rather have a need, tell someone or something (comparison sites) my need and let the sales calls flow.
For example, I am currently looking to purchase a CRM software. I put out a tweet saying I was looking for one and four vendors have now contacted me, had a conversation and I haven’t had to do anything except tell them what I want and wait for them to tell me all about their software. I quickly dismissed a couple of vendors because they couldn’t tell me about their software, instead I needed to commit to a demo, I’m not interested in that. If I like the sound of who you are and what you do, then we can discuss the next steps.
But that’s me. A lot of people I have come across don’t like to be sold to, or so they say. They want to do the ground work, go out and find out information and do their own comparisons. These are the type of people who will ultimately haggle on price. They have done so much research that they now assume they know more than the vendor themselves (not strictly untrue) and most likely choose a cheaper vendor over the vendor who can offer more than just fulfilling a need (by the way this is just my experience).
So, what is the correlation between social selling and social buying? Being a social buyer for me, means that I need to be able to quickly see that you know your stuff. I want to be able to look at LinkedIn and see that you are well-respected in your industry. I want to be able to see that you believe in your product/service because if you do, then I might too. I want to be able to recognise your brand before we have a conversation. I want you to be selling to me before I even realised I had a need. And this is where I think the link is. People that don’t like to be sold to are more likely to dismiss any social selling you are currently putting out there. They may use your product and service as a point to start with but I can almost guarantee that you won’t be the first site they visit, let alone, be engaged with.
Now begs the question, how do you sell to someone who won’t be sold to? Cold calling is dead (or so I’m led to believe), cold emailing goes straight into the bin, marketing gets by passed and ads can now be blocked. Realistically, I don’t think you can sell to someone who doesn’t want to be sold to. You have to wait for them to come to you and hope that the consultant/sales person can say all the right things at the time.
Luckily, I think the age of the ‘don’t sell to me’ buyer is coming to an end. How can it not when there are so many companies offering a similar service/product? It is taking longer and longer for this buyer to get through all the options. However, I think it is the era of the ‘soft sale’. Making use of social media/advertising and self branding. Personally, as a seller, I will continue trying to develop myself as a brand and let my clients speak of my successes, so when I do approach a new client, all the building blocks are already in place. And, as a buyer, I will let those sales people earn their commission by doing the leg work for me.