Three secrets to learning the language of social selling
Sander Biehn is a founder and CEO of Thought Horizon, LLC. Monika Ruzicka is a Global Business Development Manager at Thought Horizon, LLC.
Are you in sales and trying to understand how social media can help you better connect with your clients or find new prospects? Do you hear from your colleagues that’s what they’re doing, but you haven’t quite wrapped your head around it yourself? Learning how to use social media (or social selling) is a bit like learning a new language: challenging, complicated and inconsistent with the rules you’ve always known.
Learning a new language is more difficult once you reach adulthood, but it’s by no means impossible. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have made promising findings revealing that if you start learning a language before 18, you have a much better likelihood of obtaining a native-like mastery of the language’s grammar than if you start later.
At Thought Horizon, we’ve been teaching social selling to salespeople since 2014. And we can confirm: anyone—no matter their age—can become fluent if they put their mind to it. With social media it’s like with a new language: The more you are exposed to it, the more you learn to speak it.
Luckily, we have a few tricks for you to make the learning process a little easier and more efficient.
Determination and your why
Being dropped into a new place where you are not understood can motivate you to learn a language. So it is with social selling. An empty sales funnel, and colleagues leveraging LinkedIn or Twitter all around you are supreme motivators to get good at social media.
On the other hand, if you feel that social media is just a “nice to have” addition to your other sales methods, there is a good chance you will never become proficient at it. Your marketing team can’t make you use social media either.
You must want to learn. You must want to change and improve. And you must have a reason to stick with your goal. Do you have one already?
Immersion in the new language is a bulletproof method
for new learners to gain proficiency
Once you are determined to learn, frequent practice brings fluency. Social selling is no different. Only by being present and accountable on social channels will you learn to use those channels to make a difference in your paycheck. You need to find customers who can make decisions and buy your products and then slowly build trust and influence day by day. Certainly, you will learn shortcuts over time, and it will be a difficult slog at first. Trust us, staying at it and being determined will yield success. We’ve seen this over and over again.
A willingness to learn is a willingness to make mistakes
Having learned modern Greek, Spanish and Italian over the years in preparation for trips abroad, I have learned this lesson well. I recall asking a maid on Crete for extra towels entirely in the third person plural because it was the only construction I remembered. I am sure I sounded ridiculous, but I got my meaning across, and she was even willing to help me learn better Greek for future conversations.
It is the same with social selling. You may make some mistakes, but others will surely help you along if your purposes are pure. If you desire to help your customers by giving good advice on social channels with no immediate reward expected, you’ll do fine. There is very little to worry about.
Social media isn’t just for the kids—but that being said, know your audience. If you love to communicate with people, social outlets give you a chance to get your ideas in front of many customers and executives. But know the difference between LinkedIn and Twitter! Social selling isn’t a uniform language. It’s learning how to switch between dialects. Know where to don your professionalism and where to crack a joke or share an amusing anecdote.
Social Selling as a native tongue
Keeping these tips in mind should help you learn the language of social selling in no time, but remember: business isn’t all “businesslike” anymore. Like any language, social selling continues to evolve—and we all need to keep up.