Has your social selling moved beyond lead scraping?

Lead generation is a goal shared by every company that wants to sell through social platforms, but the success rate varies substantially. The difference is often the process that you use to prospect, says Shannon Belew in “The Art of Social Selling” (AMACOM, 2013). Are you working toward lead development or stopping at lead scraping?

Belew defines lead scraping as collecting enough data to qualify a person as a lead. It isn’t a bad thing by itself, she says, but you shouldn’t depend on it as a way to get your best results — that is, to increase inbound leads.

Lead development, by contrast, uses social networks to build online relationships and generate a flow of incoming leads over time (with the emphasis on time). “Instead of assuming that the prospect is entering at the top of the sales funnel and open to receiving very broad, general information, realize that the lead (or prospect) may instead already have your company or product on a short list,” Belew says.

She promotes the concept of “un-selling,” which she describes as putting value on building relationships first as opposed to forcing a sales transaction. “You must first make a connection, and then you have to invest time and effort into building the relationship. As a result of this process, you are able to establish credibility and trust, which, in turn, generates leads.

Belew’s tips for top-notch “un-selling:”

•  Exhibit patience. Un-selling is a process that occurs over time; it requires consistent interaction with your prospects via social media so you can establish credibility for yourself as a good resource.

•  Utilize contextual lead scraping. Instead of looking for basic information about a prospect in order to fulfill the data requirements to call them a “lead,” look for other meaningful information to identify someone with whom you should connect.

• Brand yourself. People don’t really interact with company or brand, but with people within the company.

• Engage with existing customers.
Use social networks to thank them for their business, check in with them and send them helpful information and tips related to your products and services.

• Interact and give back.  A big part of un-selling is having positive interactions with your social connections without being a Pusher or a Lurker.