Seven months ago, I was asked what I thought would be the ‘word’ for social in the coming year. My answer was ‘all in’; that is, that I thought businesses being successful in social channels had to be ‘all in.’ With everything and everybody. Even the sales force. Now, I’m not professing to have predicted the rise of ‘social selling’ – that was just a nice segue into this week’s topic. But it does raise the issue of where honest-to-goodness sales fits in the world of social networking.

I come from a technical support/marketing/sales support and sales background, and let me tell you, the first rule of sales is credibility. It’s the first impression. I’ve made instant connections, and been asked to leave immediately. You just never know. That’s why people refer to selling as a ‘numbers game.’ You have to hit really big numbers of contacts (or be lucky to be selling something everyone really needs) to build a sales pipeline. Seems well suited to the social media universe, doesn’t it?

Then, from whence does ‘credibility’ emerge? Yes, one must make a professional and personable first impression, but past that, one needs strong organizational credibility – brand recognition, product knowledge, business savvy, reputation – you get the picture. This comes from storytelling, right? Who we are, what we do, how we do it. In today’s world, this component is critical, because even the giants of the tech industry are watching their backs for the ‘next big thing’ coming up in the mirror. In social networking, perhaps the next big thing is sales people finding and connecting and building real sales pipelines using social tools. What do you think?

Q1) Is ‘Social Selling’ an oxymoron?

Q2) How do traditional selling skills translate to social networking? Is this where telling the story comes in?

Q3) What other components (web site, blog, email) are most complementary in developing sales pipelines using social tools?

Q4) How do you leverage complementary media to tell a coherent story?

Q5) Personal brand vs. Company brand. Which wins the deal? What’s the balance?

Q6) Is most social selling happening on LinkedIn? Is that the best platform for social selling?

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