The only thing more tiring than the question “can you make money using social media“, is the idea that sales has changed in some fundamental way as a result of social media. In spite of what you may be led to believe, let’s be clear about this:

Social media has not changed sales.

Sales is still about what it has always been about:

  • Figure out who might be interested in your value proposition and find out how to reach them (lead generation)
  • Contact them to see if you can enter into some form of communication about having them buy what you have to sell (prospecting)
  • If they have some interest, figure out if they are capable of making a purchase (qualification)
  • If they are qualified, figure out exactly what it is they need, and what they are willing to pay for it (needs analysis)
  • Once you have this information, suggest something they might buy (making a proposal)
  • Once your prospect gets your offer, they will probably have questions, comments and concerns that you need to address (objections and negotiations)
  • If you can get past the objections, then you try to secure the deal (closing)

The stuff in parentheses at the end of each bullet point are the steps of the classic sales process. The words before the parentheses describe the stuff you need to do to get a sale; in the new world of social media, and anywhere else. These steps exist in a simple sale, a complex sale, and everything in between. Each step will be done differently depending on the specific circumstances of each individual transaction, but the steps themselves have not changed.

So has anything changed in the age of social media with respect to sales and selling?

Those who claim that sales has changed claim that the customer must (only now, in this new era) be engaged and educated, and that this engagement and education needs to happen where the customer wants to be (i.e. Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, etc.).

Except for the WHERE part of engaging the customer, nothing has really changed at all. Customer engagement and education has always been an important part of the sales process. Just because the mediums for communication have changed, doesn’t mean that the thing about which communication is happening has changed. It hasn’t – once again – sales hasn’t changed.

Let’s use some analogies to make the point:

War hasn’t changed in the last several thousand years, just the tools and tactics. The main idea is still to kill the people on the other side and break their stuff. When one side can’t take any more, they give up.

Hunting hasn’t changed in the last several thousand years – just the tools and tactics. The main idea is to track down another living creature and shoot them, simulate shooting them or something similar. When this happens, the hunt is successful. Doesn’t mater if the shooting done with a stone tipped arrow or a laser sighted hunting rifle – same basic idea, just different tools.

This all may seem very obvious and over simplified, but there is a real problem when people become convinced that social media has changed everything related to sales.

Sales can by hard – some might even say that sales sucks because of the rejection that salespeople are subjected to. Many weak salespeople look for any excuse to avoid direct customer engagement, and thus to minimize any potential rejection. This is where the perception that social media has changed everything can become dangerous.

Those who believe that social media has changed everything can hide from the hard parts of sales – like personal rejection and tough conversations – behind a Facebook page or in a LinkedIn group (or on either side of a blog, just like this one).

Social media platforms are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. They are tools. Tools of a new era of communication for sure, but still just tools.

Social media has not changed sales.  The goal is still getting someone to agree to buy what you have to sell. If you can use social media or anything else to reach that goal, then you will be successful. Just remember, your success is about reaching the goal, not necessarily how you got there.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David