Exposed: 3 Hard-to-Swallow Truths Behind the Idea of ‘Social Selling’

It doesn’t matter if you call it social selling or social media marketing, one thing is an absolute certainty — the digital sales trend and leveraging the transparency of the internet is bigger than it’s ever been before, and with new users, algorithmic updates and channels popping up all over the place, the strategy isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. Yes, this is good stuff, but take it from me — if you’re new to social selling, it’s not nearly as sales-driven as you might’ve originally thought.

Truth be told, based on the work I’ve performed and the talented salespeople/sales leaders I’ve spoken with, the term “social selling” is more of a buzzphrase than its biggest proponents would like to admit.

No, this isn’t me claiming that social media can’t work for startup sales staffs, but there are without a doubt a few hard-to-swallow truths that need to be understood before full-blown social strategies are put into place. Pay attention — the following are three of them:

Social Media Isn’t What Most Think It Is

Let’s not take things to an extreme — sales can definitely be made using social media. That said, without a realistic understanding of what social media is, they’re never going to happen. For starters, social media isn’t advertising — a Set It and Forget It!” kind of passive marketing method.

Instead, social media is very much an active, engaged experience. For example, it’s a two-way conversation that takes place between a startup and its base of up-and-coming brand fans. When you’re genuinely helpful — and I mean genuinely helpful — individual members of a larger audience are slowly nudged along a path leading to customer acquisition. This takes time — lots of time.

You Automate AND Engage

I know I just barely made a point of saying that there wasn’t a “Set It and Forget It!”side to social media, but I’ve got news for you — there very much is. Thanks to the likes of platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer, as of 2016, social media automation is a real necessity. IFTTT, Narrow and NUVI — they’re all great for helping out with social media.

But here’s the thing — if you plan to milk social media for all it’s worth, automation will only take you about as far as beat-up Ford Pinto. The trick is to have someone on-call who’s ready to serve as an intermediary between the regular world and your business — an authentic brand advocate of flesh and bones. Liking, “favoriting”, commenting — truthfully, it doesn’t matter. For you to do social the right way, you’ll need to be committed to building long-term relationships.

Providing Value Is Your Top Priority

Do you see how each of these truths builds off of the one that precedes it? Such is the case with our third gem — providing top-notch value for any and all followers. Whether a leader, colleague or mentor to a younger, less-experienced professional in your field, worthwhile instruction requires both time and energy — doing social media the right way is no different.

How is this to be done, exactly? Using social media, provide helpful how-to articles and videos, create thought provoking commentary, display original content to showcase why/how you make an impact, make mutually beneficial introductions and inspire those who routinely view your content. It’s unlikely that immediate sales take place, but your business will be seen as one that’s both trustworthy and likable.


In my opinion, it’s time we pump the brakes on making absolute statements that “social selling” is the be all and end all. While effective when used properly, it’s merely one of many tools that should be utilized to make lasting connections to conducting business that matters. Remember, it’s all about relationships and this is just one way of enhancing the ability to make a connection.

Once again, for digital sales teams to find and foster new customers, social media can help, but the process by which social media is used is much more intricate than some “social sellers” would have you initially believe.

Clearly, this is something I’m passionate about, but I want to know what you think — is social selling as innately effective as its name would have you think, or is there more here than meets the eye? How has helped or hurt you? Is it even on your radar? In the comments section below, let me know! As always, thanks for reading — talk soon!

Note: This post was originally published on Linkedin

I help startups hire sales leaders without the cringe • Founder/CEO • 2X Entrepreneur • Personally closed $100MM+ in revenue (and counting) • LinkedIn Top Sales

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