Today’s post is by Stu Heinecke, the best-selling author of How to Get a Meeting with Anyone and host of Contact Marketing Radio. He is also the co-creator of NASP’s “The Power of Contact Marketing” training program, a Wall Street Journal cartoonist, hall of fame-nominated marketer, and founder of Contact, a first-of-its-kind contact marketing agency dedicated to helping sales teams connect with their most important prospects and assigned accounts.
A few weeks ago, I posted the graphic above in a LinkedIn blog post and asked, “Is social selling missing the target?” In the post, I recounted an interaction I’d had with someone I’d come to know fairly well on LinkedIn. She is part of a new group forming a contact marketing association, she’d read my book, and was now part of the inner circle.
As the group debated its new charter, one member suggested we focus on promoting a couple of the vendors in the group. I responded that I didn’t think that was a useful direction to take – it should be about building and sharing the knowledge base – and pointed out there were vendors, including me. “I run a contact marketing agency,” to which she replied, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”
Not only have we had numerous conversations about contact marketing, this is someone who’d read my book and is a fan of the message of focusing on making critical connections to push the scale of the enterprise. It might sound like I’m faulting my new friend but, really, the responsibility for creating awareness of what I do is mine, not hers.
If the credo of social selling is to add value, to volunteer your help, and to wait for others to talk about what you do, I wondered in my post if all of this was wasting a lot of people’s time – when they should be out selling. And what’s wrong with talking about what we do?
So I did just that. I talked about the book, my agency, and the amazing results we and others are seeing with contact marketing.
Having committed the ultimate transgression, I figured I would immediately see my contacts count drop by half. I’d be banished from groups. My life as I knew it would be diminished. Still, I had to find out what others might have to say about it. Surely, I couldn’t have been the only one wondering if things weren’t quite hitting the target.
And then came a few surprises.
I didn’t lose half my connections. Instead, they shot up by 5 percent in one week. And it drew lots of comments. Chris Beall remarked, “I think it’s bizarre that folks on a professional social network should go out of their way to talk less about what they do than the same people at a cocktail party.” In fact, there was a lot of agreement in the comments about this apparent disconnect between socializing and selling. Tom Cramer shared Gary Vaynerchuck’s advice to “Jab, jab, jab; then right hook,” to describe his prescription for the cadence of content sharing and self promotion.
Understandably, proponents of social selling also joined in. In the past, I’ve seen so many “You just don’t get it” kinds of comments. I figured I’d see a few here but, happily, that wasn’t the case. And it certainly wouldn’t have been helpful in addressing a lot of the concerns expressed by most of the respondents. They all seemed to be saying, “Yes, be here to add value, but you must do so with a strategy that allows for selling interactions to enter the equation. Jill Rowley’s 4:1:1 formula was offered, which suggests a cycle of posting four articles, then one post about yourself, and then another that is closer to an advertisement for your services.
For more advice on putting more emphasis on the word “selling” in your team’s social selling efforts, my recent interview (below) with Brynne Gordon Tillman sheds light on best practices. Either way, I’ll bet you have an opinion on whether social selling is on target. And I’d love to have you share your thoughts below.
With great special thanks for those who participated in this story on LinkedIn.