Social Selling or Social Engagement? – Interview by John Smibert
In this conversation Tony Bonanno expresses concern that many salespeople and business developers are relying on social media activity to take them further in the sales process than it’s designed to do.
He explains that in the business to business world we do not sell on ‘Social’ – we engage. He makes the simple point that; “ ‘Social’ is critical, but don’t use it as a crutch; use it as a stepping stone“. He emphasizes that we need to know when to transition off ‘social’ to ‘face to face’. In this interview he explains why and how.
Tony Bonnano is a thought leader in sales management, sales growth and behavioural change
John: Welcome back, Tony!
Tony: Thanks, John!
John: A lot of people these days talk about social selling, and I think there’s a lot of value to social selling, but I think we get confused. A lot of people say that social selling is replacing prospecting. What’s your view on that?
Tony: Yes, that’s interesting. Let me start with social selling. I was having conversations with good colleagues of mine at LinkedIn only a couple of weeks ago, and we were talking about the concept of it being called social selling.
Tony: We came to the conclusion that it’s probably not social selling, but social engagement.
John: I like those words.
Tony: That everybody engages, you know, the things that they’re doing; they’re not actually selling.
John: Social engagement makes a lot of sense to me. That’s what we’re doing on ‘social’, isn’t it? We’re engaging. We’re building a relationship on ‘social’, engaging with a customer, but we’ve got to take that off ‘social’ later.
Tony: Yes. And to come back to your original question, my fear is that some salespeople or some business developers are relying on that social activity to take them further in the sales process than it’s designed to do.
John: Okay, yes, and I understand the risk associated with that.
Tony: And that’s really what I want people to think about is that there is a time when you just have to pick up the phone and call someone and have a conversation and get face to face and take that engagement to the next level.
John: So, when is that time? When is the right time to jump off ‘social’ and start doing face to face?
Tony: That’s a tougher question, and if you’re an astute salesperson you’ll be looking for the trigger points.
John: Aha, triggers – the old triggers. Yes.
Tony: Yes and there’ll be triggers that will work early in some engagements, and it’ll take a lot longer in other engagements. But, when you are with someone in an organisation at that social engagement level and they’re responding to the things that you’re posting, they are engaged with you…
John: They’re starting to ask you questions, yes.
Tony: And that involvement is there. That’s the time when you might say “Okay, here’s a trigger. Is this the right time?” You evaluate and say “Okay, let’s pick up the phone, let’s talk; let’s take that engagement to another place.”
John: Okay. So, are you saying you don’t prospect on social media?
Tony: I’m saying that prospecting includes social media, but real prospecting is when you are taking that engagement to the point where you’re going to open an opportunity.
Tony: It’s not an opportunity, it’s not a deal unless it’s an opportunity, it’s not an opportunity unless you get together with them face to face, belly button to belly button.
John: But in my mind there’s lots of ways in which you can prospect, and my feeling is that a lot of people are using social media as their crutch for all their prospecting when they should be looking at a rainbow of different types of prospecting.
Tony: At a range of things, yes.
John: And do it from a strategic point of view across all those different methods.
Tony: My point is simple… ‘Social’ is critical, but don’t use it as a crutch; use it as a stepping stone.
John: Part of your overall strategy, and know when to move from ‘social’ and engage face to face.
Tony: Or all you’ll ever be doing is staying on ‘social’, and you don’t make money there.
John: Absolutely not, and you don’t sell on ‘social’.
John: Thanks, Tony – good advice!
Tony: Welcome, John!
John: Look forward to the next time we talk!
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John works with companies who are striving to grow high margin revenue by retaining customers, creating value for customers and strategically acquiring new customers. He loves successful and happy sales teams who are driving positive change for their customers. He coaches sales professionals who are keen to enhance their career. He helps them develop their skills and capabilities and enhance & leverage their personal brand.