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I had a conversation this morning with a salesperson about social selling vs traditional selling. As he lamented how his company needed to catch-up to the social selling wave, I mentioned that he might actually be ahead vs behind the curve. Here’s why.

The Lost Art of Sincerity

My friend was telling me that he still subscribes to paper magazines and newspapers so that he can cut out articles and send along with a hand written note to prospects, clients and friends.

Sure I have a motive. But I’m sincere in my belief that they’ll find value in the article and my desire to provide them with some value while asking nothing in return.

And that quote, his quote, in my opinion, is the heart and soul of what’s next in social selling and sales prospecting in general.

In a world of marketing automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and mass personalization, human beings are craving connection. But you can’t mass produce connection. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really scale well.

But the good news is… it doesn’t have to for you to succeed in sales.

Sales Is Not a Numbers Game

I hate this thought. Yet, I can scarcely recall a single sales or sales prospecting conversation with anyone in which this thought wasn’t uttered at some point by some salesperson.

I hate it because it’s lazy.

If all of your sales prospecting efforts are based on conversion vs connection, the goal of each activity is transactional.

But sales prospects don’t want to become a transaction. They want to become a customer.

That’s one of the reasons we hate and avoid cold calls, cold emails, cold social outreach like those lovely LinkedIn sales prospecting messages we all joke about.

But let’s face it – connecting is a hell of a lot harder to do than converting. Converting requires little more than persuasion, which while requiring some effort, pales in comparison to the effort required for connection.

You see, connection by its very nature not only requires repeated exposures to create propinquity, but more importantly, those exposures must be positive and desirable. Otherwise exposure simply leads to annoyance.

But connecting with someone requires more than just proximity and repetition. Connection comes from finding a piece of common ground, regardless of how small, between seller and buyer. Common ground that both can stand on together…. share… and use as a base on which to build the foundation of a relationship.

And that’s why sales is not a numbers game unless you choose to make it one. Sure you can focus on transactions and just spew your sales message to as many people as possible knowing that most will ignore it.

Or you can invest the time to pick only those folks that you can truly help, do a bit of social reconnaissance on them to help you understand how you can connect to them, and then make a sincere effort to connect with them.

Notice, I said connect “with” not “to” them.

Connect To means to join. So defining your sales prospects’ propinquity points as a means to understand where you can connect to them is a first step in the process of connecting with sales prospects.

However, Connect With means to relate. Thus, if you’re truly trying to connect with your sales prospects, you’re looking for places or things that you can both relate to in order to build a relationship. You’re looking for those potential common ground things.

When your focus is on connecting vs converting, sales doesn’t have to be a numbers game because you sell less but close more.

You don’t waste your time trying to convert everyone. Instead you focus on connecting with those you can truly help, developing that connection into a relationship based on sincerity, and then when they’re ready to buy, they call you.

And if you want a little proof… here is probably the most compelling example I’ve ever seen, compliments of one of our clients, Content Marketing Institute.

In a one week period where they sent out a mass segmented email, they had a .024% conversion rate on 120,000 emails.

In the same week, the VP of Marketing, Cathy McPhillips sent personal emails to 145 people that convinced 28% of them to register.

But Seller Beware

Human beings have finely tuned bullshit meters. They can sniff out insincerity a mile away. It’s one of the reasons mass personalization no longer works as well as it used to in marketing. Consumers used to think that seeing their name and/or some other personal information in a letter or email meant that someone had taken the time to personally write to them.

But today they know better.

And that’s the difference between personalization and personalized.

The former is an insincere attempt vs the latter which is 100% sincere, real and human.

So what is the the lost art of sincerity? It’s taking the time to genuinely invest in your sales prospect before they’ve purchased anything simply because it’s a better way of doing business.

This post was originally written by Tom Martin for the Converse Digital Social Selling Agency blog.

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