16 Ways to Damage Your Professional Brand, Fail at Social Selling

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ways-to-damage-your-professional-brand-fail-at-social-selling-1We live in a connected world and social selling has become aligned with general sales best practices.

The act of deeply examining the people and businesses we buy from is a common occurrence. Sifting through the noise and nonsense isn’t easy and those who pilot their customers through the maze, ultimately provide them with a reason to choose them over a competitor.

A brand is a promise. It’s a pledge of satisfaction, quality and sometimes even joy.

A brand is a reason to choose.

A professional brand and social selling go hand in hand. You can’t truly succeed in social selling without knowing the value your professional brand promises.

Are you able to articulate why you’re different? If not, or if your “why” doesn’t truly differentiate you from all the others, then there is work to be done.

Social selling strategy is comprised of three factors:

  1. WHAT you do
  2. HOW you do it
  3. WHY you do it.

We’re all acquainted with what we do — the products we sell, the services we offer, the jobs we do.

A few of us know how we do it — the things we think differentiate us or make us unique compared to the rest of the crowd, or our competition.

But only a handful of us can clearly articulate WHY we do what we do. — Our WHY is the purpose, the cause, or the belief that drives every salesperson’s career. WHY did you choose car sales? WHY did you get out of bed this morning? And WHY should anyone care?

Your WHY is what sets you apart from everyone else. It’s your purpose. It’s what inspires you to take action. Your WHY is also what inspires others to take action, spread your ideas, or buy your products.

Simon Sinek talks about this in his TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”  Simon explains how some of the world’s greatest leaders inspire themselves as well as other people to take action, buy their products, or champion their cause.

They do it by clarifying, understanding, and communicating their purpose—their WHY—before communicating anything else. They start with, sell with, and lead with WHY.

Social selling blends your professional brand with lead generation.

Just as a house is only as good as its foundation, a professional brand is only as effective as its prescribed strategy.

Social selling success is derived from conveying the value of your professional brand on an ongoing basis, while maintaining the care and feeding of valued sales relationships.

16 ways to damage your professional brand and fail at social selling

Certain negative actions contaminate your professional brand. Your reputation is at risk and these negative actions can destroy your opportunity to nurture leads via social networks. I’ve witnessed quite a few blunders myself (maybe you have too!) and I’ve read a few posts that have inspired me to address some of the gaffes right here.

1. Anxiousness or impatience

Take your time. Go into each conversation with the intention of helping others. No one wants to do business with a pushy, “it’s all about me” kind of person.

The majority of people have some social anxiety. When you’re new to social selling (or don’t really know where to start), take it slow. Be thoughtful in your communications and things will fall into place.

2. Lack of courtesy

Being courteous was once a prevailing behavior in our society. Now it’s an uncommon virtue, both online and offline. What we say and do (online or off) informs everyone about us. Being nice doesn’t cost anything.

3. Absence of authenticity

Nobody likes a faker. Here’s where the work you do to discover your “WHY” – the professional attributes that make you different – pays off. Those who know themselves display a realness that can’t be manufactured or faked. Authenticity conveys and promotes authority.

4. Lack of assertiveness

We talk about how pushy or overbearing people are off-putting but lack of assertiveness takes things too far the other way. When you’ve spent time and effort cultivating connections and referrals, “the ask” is the next step.

It’s important to have the confidence in your own abilities to make good on your promises.

5. No curiosity

People like to talk about themselves. In the networking-social selling environment, you must resist this urge to talk about yourself. In successful social selling, you must develop curiosity.

Ask questions that will help you understand people and their needs. Curiosity affords you the opportunity to uncover areas where you can serve better and bring even more value.

6. Talking more than you listen

People tend to share a lot about themselves on social media. There’s a lot of value in being a good listener. Sir Richard Branson says,

“I’m endlessly surprised by what new and useful information I can gather just by keeping my ears open. If you aren’t listening, you’re missing out.”

7. Not doing your research

One of the social selling strategies we teach is to determine who you’d like to meet and devise a plan on how to meet them.

Doing research to 1) figure out who your ideal customers are, and 2) what their potential needs might be, is a fantastic way to achieve social selling results you’re looking for. Buyers will be pleasantly surprised to hear you’ve done your homework.

8. Very little investment in relationships

Relationships are like muscles…the more they’re engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become.

People often ask me whether social selling is a worthy investment. Is having friends, fans and advocates who support you worthy? Relationships are today’s currency.

9. Over-promise and under-deliver

Establishing and maintaining trust within your network is crucial. Take the approach of giving more than you get. That’s how to build customer loyalty.

10. No regular interactions on social networks

Treat your social network just as well as you would your real life network. Take the time to get to know whom you’re connected with. There won’t be a spark with everyone but most will remember the effort you made.

11. Overlooking connections at other levels

More often than not, the most helpful people are not the presidents of companies.

12. Absence of an editor

Before you hit send on any message, meme, video or other content you share on social, consider your ultimate goal of referral and lead generation.

I like to use the simple Mindful Approach:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it kind?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it helpful?
  • Does it inspire?

13. Discounting the value of secondary contacts

Your next great deal could come from someone you helped achieve their goal. Introducing two contacts for a mutual benefit may not seem like much at the time but you never know what fruit these referrals might bear down the road.

14. Expecting something in return

Harvey McKay, author of one of my favorite books, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty” says the Golden Rule of networking is Don’t Keep Score. Reciprocity is a cornerstone of networking, however, keeping score is not.

No quid pro quo. Don’t shop for gratitude in your phone calls or emails. Do the favor because you like and respect the other person and honestly want to help.

15. Failing to keep in touch

With all that’s available on social media, you really don’t have an excuse for not keeping in touch. Publish helpful content regularly, engage with groups and deliver value, and just say “Hi, how’re you doing” with individuals and/or customers.

16. Not taking the conversation offline

Social media is a great way to establish that warm connection with a prospect. But the ultimate goal is to convert these digital connections into real life customers.

Once you’ve established a back-and-forth conversation with someone on social, it’s easier to suggest a phone call, text, or email to deliver more info or to set an appointment.

Think about it: an email with a subject line referencing your Facebook conversation will be more likely to get opened. Now it’s up to you to make sure your real-life persona is just as great as your digital one.

Your professional brand is the reason buyers choose you.

Don’t damage your social selling opportunities by not getting to know people. Leverage your relationships by being the first one to deliver value and you’ll earn their business.

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