We’ve seen this kind of stagnation before in the days of online affiliate marketing. It didn’t take CEO’s and VP’s very long to go from boasting about how many thousands of affiliates they have to ceasing to talk about affiliate marketing altogether. Suddenly, behind closed doors, they started calling their affiliate marketing program “a necessary evil.”

Social media marketing: A necessary evil?

Social media marketing? Well, lately it seems to be suffering a similar fate: social isn’t as strategic as it is routine. Big data is getting ALL the attention. And this spells trouble if you’re a social marketing manager, a social media agency or freelancer who has ambitions to advance in online marketing. Will social media marketing end up being seen as a necessary evil, just another check mark on a list of ho-hum marketing strategies… ways to spend money?

Said more bluntly: Will you be seen as a money spender or a money-maker in 2013? Will you get caught up in Doug Kessler’s Crap storm or will your content produce leads and sales? The difference between content that’s crap and content that isn’t is simple:

Ability to create a business lead.

The rise of social selling experts

For a select few large brands and small businesses social marketing IS surviving and, in fact, thriving—powering their businesses forward. These places are where we see today’s Social Selling Experts emerging. These savvy pros see the rise of flash-in-the-pan trends as good news—a time to dig in and create bottom-line impact. Leads and sales.

One such pro is Ed Worthington of Action Business Systems, a provider of document management products and services.

After years of struggling to get copier sales leads using social media like LinkedIn, Ed had a fantastic breakthrough. He discovered a way to sell copier machines and service contracts more often, faster and without having to give away all the profit. Today, social marketing works for Ed—rather than the other way around.

Ed Worthington is ringing the bell: Selling more printers, scanners, copiers, document shredders and signing more contracts faster, more often and easier than ever before. While Ed’s boss might be reading trade mags harping on the hopeful promise of big data, Ed is signing clients using his blog and YouTube videos. In fact, he’s increasing his response rate (getting more returned calls & emails) to an unheard of 20%.

Two out of every ten outbound attempts generates a positive response from Ed’s prospects. He’s using LinkedIn, blogging and YouTube videos in a specific combination—a practical system.

What exactly is a social selling expert?

You might be thinking, “sure, Molander but Ed is a traditional sales professional, I’m a marketer.” Yes, but that’s precisely the point. Especially in the world of business-to-business marketing, the last few years has seen the meteoric rise of marketing automation, sales enabelment—whatever buzzword term you want to use it amounts to one thing:marcus

The bridging of sales and marketing through technology-driven processes.

Today’s most successful online marketers are online SELLERS. These people aren’t afraid to be held accountable for leads and sales. Heck, they thrive on the chance to sing for their supper. They know success is all about applying a very practical “social selling system.” 

And if you’re looking for a business-to-consumer social seller look no further than Marcus Sheridan, the renowned content marketing guru who is selling more pools and spas than anyone in North America using his blog and YouTube videos.

Is Marcus a content marketer? Yes but he’s more than that. He’s a social selling expert.

What’s the system?

When blogging or using LinkedIn Groups, pros like Marcus and Ed are creating:

  1. Confidence: They’re helping customers solve problems, learn new skills and become smartter buyers in ways that create results in advance of their purchase. Helping customers become more confident buyers is earning them trust… as the source of that confidence.
  2. Curiosity: Ed and Marcus are explaining their remedies in ways that creates clarity AND active curiosity. They blog in provocative ways. This creates response to whatever they put out on social media.
  3. A Way: They’re showing prospects a way to take immediate action on the thoughts they’re provoking. They’re helping customers choose a pathway to get more detailed information on the remedy (and to become a business lead).

Maybe you’re asking, “why is now the time… why should I be considering rising to the ranks of a social selling expert?”

Because the trend toward investing more on “big data” must be met by big change. If you’re going to keep your job or client relationship (or GROW it) you’ll be wise to become a social selling expert. Reach beyond engagement and become a money-maker, not just a money-spender.

How social beats Big Data: Sales

The truth is your target market likely has five big objections you must overcome to win them over—to earn new customer relationships. Social media has the power to help your business or brand respond to this challenge like few other sales or marketing tools.

These objections are as follows. Your prospective customer does not…

  1. Understand your thing (product or service)
  2. Want to value your thing
  3. Believe YOU—that your thing will do what you claim
  4. Think they can actually DO what you want them to take action on (use your thing to create the needed result)
  5. Feel like they can afford it

So, what’s the common element that could really solve the above problem? What’s the killer ingredient that changes everything for your prospect? Answer: confidence.

The key to effective selling has always been to make customers believe not in the product but in themselves—so much that they pull the trigger and buy. Social marketing offers powerful tools to help customers get confident—help them feel like they CAN get what they want, on time, without any heads rolling and even with a sense of joy and accomplishment.

This is where social marketing not only shines but brings home the bacon!

Become a Social Selling Expert

Bottom line: what’s being called “big data” is a lotta hype. We’ve seen it before in the rise of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), for instance. The mad rush into ERP investment has been a huge bust for many businesses. I see the rush toward big data as being dangerously similar. Marketers have many big data challenges to overcome—from privacy to the idea itself being proven out more substantially.

Big data (the idea), so far, amounts to an improvement in guessing what customers want, how, when and where. Nonetheless, big data is a threat to your social marketing budget. So it’s time to do battle with big data.

Focus on leads and sales. Become a social selling expert. Prove that combining LinkedIn with blogging, Facebook with blogging or YouTube with e-mail can create that needed confidence, break down those barriers to selling stuff and identify precisely when and where customers need help in their lives—better than the unproven idea of big data can!