Old-School Selling Addiction Meets No-Sell Social

I just completed a great run of presentations over the past couple weeks. Each successive audience offered up a new challenge or dilemma I didn’t anticipate. I actully LOVE this! As a recovering co-dependent hell-bent on saving the world, I had to resist the urge to rewrite the deck after every event and subsequent comment.

But the one theme I heard over and over again went something like this: “It doesn't seem like social media is all that great for selling my (insert name of thing or service here). It’s a scattered, dysfunctional approach to marketing.” 

Yada, yada, yada … meh.

It’s not the fault of your social channel that it isn’t an effective sales tool. It’s your fault.

If you’re looking for a social breakthrough, the first step (and always the hardest) is to STOP selling!

I have two defined mantras when speaking about social media. One is "Listen, make nice, and repeat." And the other is "Don't set it and forget it.” I see a lot of nodding heads and knowing glances when I talk about these concepts. But days later I fire up the Facebook page of the clients I just trained and see something like:

<blink tag> You will not believe the deals this weekend! Come by the shop! Tell your friends! </blink tag>

Seriously? We just talked about this shit! I could die.

Each of us has a unique communication style, which means we also have a unique selling style. I get it. I don't want to take that away from anyone. However it's important to remember the parallels between the offline and online worlds. When I physically walk into your store for the first time, you aren’t going to scream, "TWO FOR ONE! BOGO A GO-GO! BUY! BUY! BUY! LOOK AT THIS! LOOK AT THAT!"

Lord, I hope not. No, you're going to say, "Hello! How can I help you?" You will listen and then engage with the most appropriate response. So why would you think social media is supposed to be a digital billboard for screaming offers? We need to treat people the same way no matter where we interact with them.

So if you don’t have people clamoring to your Twitter feed or Facebook page, maybe it’s because you’re the virtual equivalent of the guy who DOMINATES THE CONVERSATION at a party.

We’ve all been in that uncomfortable situation where you end up next to a “ME Monster.” You immediately look for an excuse to make a beeline for the relish tray and find someone else – anyone else – to chat up. 

“Hi. Nice to meet you. Fabulous dip, isn’t it? Sure, I’d LOVE to talk about the weather and maybe hear about your antique spool collection. But let’s step away from the ME Monster before he tries to horn in on our good time." 

Last weekend I was approached by an IT professional who said he didn’t know what to talk about in his social channels. “I just sit around all day and fix problems,” he told me. “People don't think that's cool. What can I possibly say that anyone will find interesting?"

OMG! I would give my left kidney to be lucky enough to have a job that created ENDLESS content!

Well, I guess my job does that already because I'm a raging extrovert. But that's another story. I don’t want to turn into a ME Monster right now.

I told this cat he doesn’t have to sell at all. Just post problems that arise in the industry and empower people to resolve the issue with whatever steps it takes. 

  1. Then say something like, "Do you ever run into this?" 
  2. Conversation officially ignited!
  3. Used-car sales approach averted!
  4. Thread forthcoming! 
  5. Trust developing.

It's just conversation. If you start thinking of your business in this matter, you'll find that old school "selling" was far harder to do then simply taking and empowering people. Tell me how it goes!