Why Social Selling is Like Dating: How to Find a Relationship that Works

sad man with faded flowersThis might sound a little crazy, but I think it’s true: Social selling is a lot like dating. Think about it. One of the most important decisions we ever make happens when we try to find someone to spend the rest of our lives with. Finding the right person for any relationship is important, and that includes business contacts as well as romantic commitments.

Dating can be a long and somewhat grueling process, but it’s necessary in order to find the right person. It sometimes includes dealing with deception, lies, and broken promises. I know I wasted lots of time and energy back in my dating days! Every time I thought I’d found the perfect fit, I realized I was wrong (until I met my wife, of course). We learn a lot through dating, because it allows us to gain experience through trial and error.

This search is similar to the process of finding the right business partner. As salespeople, we need to remember this. Our prospects spend a lot of time and energy researching, reading, testing, and trying to cut through the sales jargon to find the right solutions. Our customers are looking for long-term commitments with companies that have a vested interest in their future success. They can do without the fast talk, shiny suits, and insincere charm.

People don’t marry a partner they don’t trust (at least, I hope they don’t), and no prospect is going to purchase from a company they don’t trust (no matter how shiny the solution seems to be, or how charming the sales rep is). Long-term relationships thrive on transparency and sustenance, not talk and flash.

On Being Selective

Most of us have relied on a friend (or more recently, an online dating service) to set us up with dating candidates. It’s tempting to dive in and start dating anyone who looks remotely interesting. But that rarely works out (at least, it never worked out for me).

The same is true when it comes to prospecting new opportunities. Quit relying on your company to give you all your leads! Start building relationships on your own, and make sure you’re super-selective about who you spend your time with. The friend or manager who told you that it was about quantity over quality needs to get with the times. That is a dialing-for-dollars mentality and it doesn’t seem to be working anymore. Your buyers don’t want to feel like they’re just a number you reached randomly. They want to be treated as if they were the one and only. And in today’s competitive marketplace, they have every right to feel that way.

Bad match couple
It’s not me; it’s you.

Online Dating vs. Online Buying

Think of it this way: Match.com pairs couples up only after they capture a whole lot of relevant information about them. This way, they try to make sure they aren’t wasting anyone’s time. If you’re in sales, this approach is critical. Are you making sure you do your research on the leads you’re given before you call and try to get them to buy? If not, you might get rejected faster than the pick-up artist on the street.

The thing is, there is enough information out there about your buyers to help you understand who is a good fit and who is not before you pick up that phone. Don’t waste their time or yours. Take the time to make sure that you’re going after the right match.

Using Social Media

Social media has evolved into a paradise for buyers and sellers. We now know who our buyers are, what they’re saying, and what’s important to them before we even start the relationship or the sale. Data and analytics from the social channels are even predicting the future of a buyer and seller relationship before it happens.Social media and internet business
Every sale starts with a social relationship in some form or another. The great thing is that the social ways you can start a new relationship have evolved. You don’t have to begin with a potentially intrusive telephone call or an anonymous email blast. Now you can start with a tweet or retweet, a follow, a LinkedIn request, or a blog post comment. Social media provides many different ways to get the conversation started. And once that happens, you can start building a relationship a step at a time in order to build lasting loyalty. And who doesn’t love that?

Speaking of starting up social relationships, I’d love to connect with you, so join me on LinkedIn and Twitter.
How have you used social media to connect with prospects? Be sure to let me know in the comments.
Interested in learning how to develop a social media game plan? Check out Act-On’s free toolkit:

Social media game plan

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