In our article last month we discussed the importance of doing your homework, your social discovery, for targeted accounts. Now, how are we going to leverage that? Social sales has an Achilles heel and it is called common sense. Armed with all of this great social insight, do you charge in like a bull after a herd of heifers or … do you take a more measured and nuanced approach?
The last thing we want to be seen as being is the creepy social stalker. Good ol’ fashioned common sense, when combined with timing and nuance, may be the only elements that are standing between your foot and your mouth or their foot and your butt.
In medical school, students are taught to “First, do no harm. Another way to state it is that, ‘given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good.'” (source – Wikipedia) Keeping in mind that social media is the proverbial bell that cannot be unrung, this would appear to be applicable advice.
It’s not only about the information that you gather, it’s about how you intend to use it. It is how you choose to portray yourself on the social channels. We hear about folks everyday who make fools of themselves on Facebook and Instagram or on any of the many other social networks. Will you be one of these?
Does it pass the smell test
Basic common sense, when combined with timing and nuance, will lead to success. Before you do anything, you must ask yourself … “Does it pass the smell test?” Perhaps the easiest way to determine whether or not what you are planning on doing is appropriate for the occasion is to test the proposition on yourself.
Take a look at the messaging that you have been receiving by others and then gauge your response. Does the message leave you cold, spur you to take action, or cause you to groan. Take the next step to analyze the the reasons behind this feeling. Now emulate the positive while ditching the negative.
Every day I encounter situations that have been foisted upon me by others and I have to ask myself … “Why would they do that?” As examples, from my collection of pet peeves …
- Messages directed to “Hey you” – If your message is not addressed to “Craig” or “Mr. Jamieson”, I will assume that it is automated and I will not respond.
- Automated messages – See above.
- Arrogant messages – You might be all that but, only to your mother.
- People who can’t spell, write, or use proper grammar – These skills still count!
- Those who do not demonstrate the basic social graces – While no longer widely in use, “Please” and “Thank you” are still in the dictionary. I looked them up just to be sure.
- People who think that the best way to thank you is by asking you to do something for them – And, I should do this … why? Maybe I missed the part where you said what’s in it for me? For example, I constantly receive auto-follower DM’s on Twitter asking me to like their Facebook pages or to connect with them on LinkedIn. I guess that this is my reward?
- Template invitations and messages – They all look the same maybe because … they are.
None of these types of communications would give me even the slightest inkling that I might be of any importance to that person. The sender should have gone to medical school as these efforts create more harm than good. This negative impression has been tattooed on my brain.
However, if you want to test your messaging before you send it, here is a cool little tool, the Tone Analyzer, that is being offered for free from HubSpot. It’s also entertaining to copy and paste messages that you receive into this application and then take a look at their evaluation.
It is very difficult to define timing and it could be damn near impossible to teach it. Either you have it or you don’t. That being said, timing starts with good listening. Still, there is something about the seeming anonymity of the web that seems to remove some people’s filters and this includes the filter that controls impulse actions.
Immediately sending someone a request to connect who you have never conversed with will likely not be well received. Nor can I even begin to count the number of times that people, having just met me, have asked me to provide them with referrals. On the other hand, if you have engaged on something like Twitter prior to extending this invitation, that will be a decidedly different story.
Much like timing, nuance is an art form in itself. At it’s core, nuance could be equated with diplomacy. “It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.” Take The Donald. Mr. Trump seems to have a message that is resonating with frustrated voters. However, there is zero nuance to his comments. How much more effective would he be if he were to say the same things but, with a little civility and diplomacy thrown in? Maybe even a touch of humility? On the other hand, his lack of any of these niceties (or is it just straight talk?) is what seems to be working for him so, go figure. Suffice it to say, I could never pull that off.
One of the most basic rules of sales (for that matter, of life) is that you need to be able to deliver the right message, at the right time, and in the proper format.Call it the what, when, and how. By taking the time to do this progressively (think baby steps), you will maximize your chances for ultimate success. Let’s look at each …
The right message – It has to personalized, specific, and for a good reason. You also need to weigh which social network this is being conducted on. For example, while a follow or an @ message is probably universally acceptable on Twitter, asking someone to be your friend on Facebook, when you barely know them … might be a bit creepy. It is for me. Follow the 80/20 Rule (personal to business) on Facebook and please don’t post cute videos of your grandkids on LinkedIn.
The right time – Take it slow. Listen and assess. Do you have something of value to contribute? If yes, when is the right time to step in? This rule is absolutely no different than a business mixer or a party. We’ve all been to them. You walk in and folks are inevitably cliqued up. Not many people will physically insert themselves into that circle but, these same people might not hesitate to do so electronically. Odd.
Now, you may have gleaned certain specific information based on your research. Do you lead with that or do you wait for the right time if that time even presents itself. When you do, is it done so with nuance? Example …
- “I saw you mention on Facebook that your company is downsizing and we offer services that can assist you with that project. Let’s talk!” Creeper alert! Or, might you say …
- “These days a lot of companies are struggling with determining just what the right size for their workforce should be. We help them to find those answers.” And, you then gauge their reaction before moving forward.
You could also initiate the conversation by just asking them about their company, maybe even sharing some of the challenges that your own company is facing, and then asking them what types of business issues they might be experiencing in today’s economy. Ask open-ended questions and … watch and listen.
The proper format – Would you send a sensitive message via Twitter as an @ message or as a direct message? If you did not answer with the latter, do not pass go and do not collect any commissions.
Ultimately, the book “The Go-Giver” (also “Go-Givers Sell More”) says it all … “Givers, get” and in order to get you must first earn the right to ask. The absolute best way to accomplish this goal is through a strategy of progressive engagement that gives rather than requests. You will only ask after you have earned the right to do so.
Now, no matter what you do, you will likely run the risk of alienating somebody. Selling has always been that way and social selling is no different. Successful salespeople have always worn a thick skin, been unafraid of rejection, and have been willing to do those things that unsuccessful salespeople are unwilling to do. In fact, generally the only difference between sales stars and sales also-rans is that one simple truth.
We would always prefer to avoid tragic situations. Please follow this link to download a free Ebook from the nice folks over at HubSpot called “Is Social Selling Creepy?“. This document will share with you a study of just what people find to be creepy, or acceptable, behavior on the social networks. I think that it helps to provide a great road map to your personal success!