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Social Selling Isn't Replacing Traditional Selling Anytime Soon

February 10, 2017

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Telemarketing Software Contributor

While social media has changed the way individuals communicate with one another, it has also had major implications for the way the world does business. It helps with networking, human resources, business partnerships, supply chains and marketing, among other functions. It’s also had a significant impact on sales, and the rise of “social selling” has been meteoric.

In a nutshell, social selling is the practice of using social media to connect with leads, prospects and customers. It’s a great way to warm up leads – usually the job of the inside sales team – further prospects along the sales pipeline, stay in touch with existing customers and upsell and cross-sell to the them. It’s multimedia, so sales professionals can use content to further the relationship, and it’s personal and immediate. It shouldn’t, however, replace all traditional sales processes and techniques, according to a recent article by Jeb Blount, CEO at Sales Gravy writing for LinkedIn.

“Recently, and to my dismay, I witnessed one of these [social selling] ‘gurus’ pronounce outbound prospecting dead and advise salespeople to shift all of their energy and focus into social selling using his complicated nine-step system, that he was willing to sell at a special discount,” wrote Blount. “Ironically and hypocritically his pitch was made via a cold email.”

Traditional inside selling, or telemarketing, has used the telephone, email and other channels to reach out to prospects and customers, and there’s a reason why these methods are tried and true: they still work. It’s also ironic that people hawking social-selling-only programs are using traditional channels to try and lure in leads. Social selling should be one tool among many for inside sales teams.

“The social channel enhances, elevates, and sometimes accelerates your prospecting efforts,” wrote Blount. “It is certainly a powerful channel that should be a core part of your sales prospecting tool box. But social selling is not a replacement for focused and deliberate outbound prospecting efforts. Contact and conversion rates via phone, email, and even text messaging dwarf conversion rates on social media.”

Cold calls and cold emails still need to make up the primary core of a selling campaign. That’s not to say technology can’t help improve these older methods: telemarketing software can help with lead generation, lead nurturing, lead sharing and the workflows that are necessary to ensure prospects aren’t dropped and existing customers aren’t ignored. Social selling can even be part of that balanced sales process that can be properly managed with a comprehensive sales or telemarketing solution.

“Social selling will not solve your pipeline woes or provide an endless stream of inbound leads with little effort,” wrote Blount. “It takes far more than a LinkedIn (News - Alert) connection, content curation, and hope to move today’s buyers to take action.”

Social selling will have a strong place in a sales tool portfolio, but it should be woven in with a balanced prospecting effort rather than making it an exclusive channel.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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