This is the final installment in a three-part series about the right sales mindset for social media success. In the first blog post in this series, I talked about the importance of being a subject matter expert. The second installment in the series focused on how to position your expertise to help a prospective customer decide to allow you to influence their buying decision.

In this last installment, we tie it all together with the glue that cements business relationships on and off the web – trust – arguably the currency of social media commerce.

In the 2008 book Jump Point: How Network Culture is Revolutionizing Business by Tom Hayes, the author suggests that trust is the new currency of social media. In the book, Hayes describes an evolving internet business environment that he calls “The Reputation Economy”. This is indeed a double edged sword, as Hayes points out. On the plus side, it is exciting to believe that there are lower barriers to entry and success for even the smallest players. Size is no longer required to grow quickly, and into something significant in this new environment. On the other side of the sword, it can seem a bit scary for buyers. Without traditional entities to mediate and regulate person-to-person transactions on the web, how can there be a guarantee of performance and adequate identification of and punishment of cheaters?

The author Hayes postulates and I agree: the answer is trust. As demonstrated by the success of eBay and Amazon with their user generated systems for rating the reliability of sellers, it seems intuitive that as the online business environment encourages more small players (read: initially unknown and for the most part anonymous even over time), buyers will gravitate towards sellers and interest providers they trust. Trust will be a function of past interactions with the seller, by all buyers or prospects, and mechanisms for displaying this trust will become increasingly demanded and relied upon by buyers.

Today, those mechanisms are mostly content based. Outside of Amazon and eBay, many businesses and business people try to enhance their chances of convincing a prospect to buy from them without the benefit of a formalized seller-reliability rating system. So in these conditions, how do we earn trust? For this, we go right back to the sales mindset that I defined in Mastering Your Sales Process and in the first two installments of this post:

“I am an expert in my field. My job is to help qualified prospects make good decisions about solving problems using my product or service.”

When we embody this mindset in our sales efforts, in social media and elsewhere, we engender trust. People tend to trust those people who seem to know what they are talking about and who can demonstrate that. People trust those who seem to be motivated by the desire to offer assistance in a genuine way. Put these two things together, and you have our definition. Embody this definition, and you will be trusted.

Embodying the definitions means working hard to make yourself and expert in everything that has to do with your product or service, all of the ancillary issues (logistics, finance, etc.), and the business of your prospective clients.

Committing to a business style that focuses on solving real problems in an honest and genuine way means getting past just selling your product, and really working to solve the problems. You will be on your way when you reach the point in a conversation with a prospect at which you KNOW that your product or service is not right for them, and you know what to do next – unequivocally!

This embodiment translates to social media by being the philosophical foundation of your content and aggregation activities. Whether you are posting a blog, answering a question in a forum, or passing on a useful link – come from the place that says “I am an expert who is here to help”, and your content will reflect the right things to lead to trust from those who see your content.

If these embodiments are genuine and well executed, your prospects as well as your connections, followers, friends and whatever else they may be called in the social media lingo du jour will trust you. If they trust you, then you have established the basis for a business relationship.

If this is (all or part of) your goal in using social media, then start every interaction with the idea that:

“I am an expert in my field. My job is to help qualified prospects make good decisions about solving problems using my product or service.”

In this way, you will build the trust you need to take steps in the direction you desire, and your prospective clients will be happy to be along for the ride.

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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