We talk a lot about social selling and involvement in social channels and the digital world as part of an overall sales process. You have to be online. You have to have a social presence.

You need to engage. Engagement attracts. Enough attraction builds authority and trust.

It’s true, if you want to know and be known by your target market – you need to build a platform and your personal brand by being on multiple channels. That is your digital footprint.

Here’s the problem though people think they can create LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram accounts, make a few posts, comment on a few other peoples posts and they are “social selling”. Then they realise they don’t get far and end up falling flat on their face.

Why don’t they get far? Because well, that’s not social selling. That’s not even sales!

You should have a social selling process as part of an overall sales strategy. There is a method, there is automation, there is efficiency built in.

But you don’t want to set it and forget it.

You can get lost in the medium of delivery and lose sight of the relationship. Too many reps get caught up in the process – the planning, cadence, automation and logistics of social selling that they forget the human aspect of the process. The humanness comes in the follow through – that’s where sales and relationships are made.

So if you don’t want to be seen as a cold, uncaring, selfish social selling robot by your prospects, try to avoid these five common social selling errors:

#1 – Spray and Pray prospecting (It’s not just for cold callers anymore)

Sales reps are not immune to the spray and pray method of prospecting while social selling.

Just like when old-school salesmen used to smile and dial out of the phonebook, there are many reps who think that connecting with every LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) on LinkedIn just because the LION won’t DK their invitation request is a great way to build their social selling network. There’s no thought to industry, market or vertical – if the profile says LION – they’re connecting.

There’s nothing wrong with LION’s – it’s just that creating a large network for the sole purpose of having a high number of connections is not social selling. It’s the cyberspace version of hoarding.

#2 – Fake engagement – liking and retweeting does NOT change funnel position

There needs to be more than just liking a post or commenting on a prospect’s content for the sake of it. You liked? You retweeted? That’s great! But what makes you think your prospect actually thinks you care about them or their business? Where’s the follow through?

Going around and liking posts just to get your “touches” in is inauthentic unless it is part of a touchpoint strategy where you initiate some contact and come back to follow up with a comment or reach out and send a message (or tag that person on another post or article). THEN they know you are thinking about them and that will make you more than just another person with a profile picture.

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That’s when it’s being done right – people tagging others to call their attention to a helpful or pertinent post, tagging them on a post about a job. That’s value and that’s personal. If you help a person get a job because you referred them to a job posting or made an introduction? That’s personal and about as human as you get. That’s a debt of gratitude.

#3 – The clearly templated, non-personalized pitch 2.5 seconds after we connect

You did some work and sent a connection request, they accepted and right away you send your generic “thanks for connecting NOW BUY MY STUFF” message. I don’t feel any different than the event planner and mortgage pro you just connected with.

We all got the same message. We don’t feel special – and we don’t kiss on the first date.

I know you didn’t do your homework and don’t care about me when you send me a message about helping me with marketing to get more people in my restaurant. I don’t own or work in a restaurant. Even a cursory glance at my profile would tell you that.

Make your connection request messages personalized, look at their profile and pick out interesting key points that you can relate to or discuss in your message. Most of all, provide them value.

#4 – Always pitching

Ok, Glengarry Glen Ross, we know ABC – Always Be Closing. Sounds great. But when you are always pitching – when every interaction, every share, every LinkedIn message, retweet or post somehow leads back to you and how your widget is the answer to all of their problems, it is not only annoying it is incredibly unprofessional and says you view them as a number and just as a sale.

It’s just like the buy my stuff pitch 2.5 seconds after we connected. I don’t know you or anything about you and I don’t feel like shelling out $5.99 for your ebook to figure out who you are.

Make a post that leads to what you offer, but only after you have provided a few posts that have offered some form of true value to your following. Otherwise, you’re just an internet pitchman who is only looking out for themselves. When you show that you care, then I know that you are real.

#5 – Thinking the phone is just for updating, posting and emailing

Hello? Pick the damn thing up and call someone will ya?

There’s lots of talk about people closing deals over email, text and never once talking or being face to face. That’s great and if it works for you great! Sell them where they want to be sold. That doesn’t feel like a long-term strategy for customer loyalty to me though.

I want to be interacting on each channel my prospect or client is on – Twitter, LinkedIn, email and text – but I want to make sure I am on the phone with them as well.

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The reason being, the phone has the tone. I can pick up on a person’s tone, inflection and delivery when I am on the phone. I can hear sarcasm, tell if they are really laughing at my jokes (or know if I missed the mark and then avoid future mistakes). I can get a better read on a person over the phone.

Wrapping It Up

The modern sales rep has an abundance of technology to make the social selling process easier and more efficient but the rep must never lose sight of the fact that the end user – the client/prospect is human and does not want to feel like they are just a number or a pawn being moved through a data optimized sales funnel.

It is our humanness that connects with people. Our empathy, understanding and caring are ultimately why people choose to do business with us. We are more than just the digital 1’s and 0’s of code that make up the matrix of our social and social selling lives. Let that shine through in your social selling efforts.

This article was contributed by Dave Rynne.


This article was contributed by a guest writer. Not affiliated with SkillsLab.

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