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Social Selling is like Golfing on the Internet

Social selling is a goal many organizations set out to accomplish, however, it's often full of obscurity and confusion. Social selling seems to have two distinct groups of users on opposite ends of the spectrum: a great divide of those who are supposedly wonderful at it, and those who consider themselves terrible and choose to stick with what they know.

Why is social selling tough to define? For starters, it means different things to different roles in an organization. Generally...

  • Marketing considers "social selling" to be synonymous with "generating leads from social channels." 
  • Sales often thinks social selling is using LinkedIn to source and research new leads they can close.
  • Customer Service can play a powerful role on social beyond responding tweets, but often turns their back on "sales" tools. 

Regardless of your role, social networks are a "new" place in which you can interact with your customer. Just like executives used to, and still do, form relationships on a golf course, social is like a golf & country club that 1) anyone can join and 2) has enough tee boxes for everyone in the world to play at the same time.

Social Selling is like Golfing
The analogy holds in many ways:
  1. Golf is a game of patience. It takes a while to get decent, seemingly forever to become great, and the four-hour games are a real commitment.
  2. Golf is a game of consistency, not one-hit wonders. A 300 yard drive can make you feel like a rockstar but your score is most affected by your short game. A chip and a putt or two on every hole will make up the majority of your score.
  3. Golf is enjoyed by anyone, in any role, and at any age. On the golf course it doesn't matter whether you're in marketing, sales, customer service, or any other background. You will build relationships with those around you (your foursome) and you can often choose who your foursome is. 

Replace "golf" above with "social" and you have a perspective from which to get started (and you might also be reminded of any social talk you've ever heard). If you consider "selling" as anything that leads to revenue, social selling is generating revenue on social. Whether it's a lead for marketing, an opportunity for sales, or a renewal from customer service, social is yet another place for customer interaction to occur.

Getting Started
Whatever your role, if we go back to the golf analogy for a second, you will likely be unsuccessful at closing your deal (getting an email, an order, or a renewal) on the first hole! A better game plan for a successful round is to start by sparking a conversation and building credibility. Prove to your foursome you're a person worth knowing. 

So what is a good move on the "first hole"? Start the conversation by sharing something of value - something generically interesting but not salesy. Something that might elicit a response and spark the back and forth required to build rapport. Maybe a funny story, a news update, or an insight about something they might find interesting.

Once the conversation is started, then you are off to the races, and it's your decision about when to steer things toward business. Just remember, once you tee off you don't take a break until the 9th hole!

Still not sure where to begin, or don't think you have the time to regularly come up with something to share? Here's a simple way to find trending, interesting business content that you can post to LinkedIn and Twitter in one-click:

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