What the heck is social selling?

 What the heck is social selling?

Are you listening?

When social networks were hijacked and turned into media channels by marketers, the more savvy of them realised that a different kind of marketing was needed. Some learned, some didn’t, hey ho.

The same thing is happening with sales – except that social networking is now a mature business activity and the tools that have been designed to aid the sales process are sophisticated and very effective.

While I believe wholeheartedly that no-body joins a social network to be sold to, it doesn’t mean that social networks aren’t a good place to find people who want to buy from you.

The thing that social selling most definitely is NOT is broadcasting sales messages as in “20% off! Buy now!”

Listening is an essential sales skill

Ask what makes a good sales person and the unequivocal answer is “be a good listener”.  Now, the listening happens on-line.

Where once a potential customer would ask their social group (in the pub, the gym, at the school gate or the dog training class) for recommendations for whatever they were interested in buying, these days they use their social networks – where we can listen using simple tools like Google alerts, and Hootsuite. Find out more about social listening here.  

If you’d like  help with developing your social selling skills just ask (no charge, no obligation!) 

Just like eavesdropping in the pub, you don’t jump in to somebody else’s conversation with a sales pitch, but hopefully, you’ll already have a relationship with people who can recommend you and the potential customer will start to check you out.

They’ll want to see that your social networking accounts show that you understand their needs and their values.

They’ll check out the way you talk to people, the way you interact with existing customers and, especially, how you handle complaints.

Meanwhile, you’ve added their details to your CRM system (any CRM is better than none but ask if you need a recommendation!) From there you follow them on their social networks. On Twitter you can do this without being obvious by adding them to a list rather than simply following. You can check out their LinkedIn profile and see which groups they are members of and start to interact without having to be a direct connection.

Create rapport

Every good sales person does a lot of research before meeting a prospect but creating rapport could sometimes be a challenge before actually getting face to face. Not so now. With social networks you’ve probably already had several interactions and built a relationship before you get face to face.

You’ll certainly know:
Not just the size but the culture of their business
Their beliefs and values
Their interests and activities
Their attitude to their customers
What contacts you have in common
What’s happening in their world – both personal and business
What specific problem your service or product could solve
A LOT about their competitors

Marketing isn’t enough

Small businesses often shy away from selling from a fear of seeming pushy and instead, spend disproportionate amounts of time and money on marketing without following up on opportunities. The thing that makes a BIG difference to your bottom line is learning how to sell. With social selling the pushy pitch is redundant because the conversation is all about the prospect.

The tools that have been developed to help businesses take advantage of the phenomena of social networking are a sales person’s best friend and many of them are free and easy to use – certainly easier and more effective than cold calling!  

Join my on-line mentoring group to get expert guidance on how to grow your business 

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Ann Hawkins is a business growth specialist who will help you to make more profit, keep you accountable for your success and introduce you to a support network of your peers. Ann is the founder of The Inspired Group, co-presenter of The Business Hub radio show and owner of The Social Media Show. If you’d like to talk to Ann about how to take your business from OK to Excellent call her on 07711 705038

Trust is built in your behaviour, not in your message.

mikey condiments Trust is built in your behaviour, not in your message.

Without trust there can be no relationships of any value.

A young boy wanted to buy his parents a thank you gift for taking him to Disneyland. He spent the last of his pocket money on a salt and pepper pot with Mickey Mouse ears from the gift shop. As he ran back to give the gift to his parents he tripped and dropped the bag, shattering the ceramic pots. A passing Disney employee helped to pick them up and suggested he take them back to the shop. The boy was sceptical as he had been the one to drop them but, with a bit of urging, went back to the store.
The response from the assistant at the till was unequivocal. He peered into the bag and said, “Gee, I’m so sorry. I didn’t wrap them well enough” and promptly replaced them.
The boy, Randy Pausch, his sister and their parents reckon that as a result of that small action they spent over $100,000 dollars with the Disney brand over the years. Furthermore, Randy went on to become a scientist and professor who gave lectures all over the world and told that story over and over to thousands of people.

Trust is built in your behaviour, not in your message.

The trust that comes from this type of action is earned, not bought. No celebrity endorsement could do what this story does for the Disney brand.  When a brand is trusted, people pay more, come back for more and tell others.

Faisel Rahman, (@FaiselR ) founder and CEO of Fair Finance ( @FairFinance ) trusted that people who borrow money mostly want to pay it back. He created a business model that made it possible for people who are mistrusted by most banks and institutions to trust and be trusted and he has loaned (and had repaid with interest) over £7.8 million and helped over 10,000 people to get out of debt.

Trust is a measure of the belief we have in the honesty, fairness and benevolence of another party.

While big businesses can struggle to find ways to create trust, small businesses have many advantages. In a discussion with Huntingdon Business Women these are the areas that are seen as essential to that process:

1) Demonstrating experience and credibility and using appropriate language and terminology. Unlike reputation which is based on past experiences, creating trust is about reassuring people about future experiences.
2) Managing expectations with honesty. Making sure that communications are open and transparent ensures that customers know exactly what to expect.
3) Relevance. Don’t try to sell to everyone. Find the people who really need your product or service and show that you understand them.
4) Client centred. Making clients happy becomes the objective of the business. Profit is a KPI of that happiness.
5) Vulnerability. Being authentically you is more important than an appearance of perfection.

When we trust and are trusted in return we get a chemical feel good rush, but trust is a complex issue made up of instincts and emotions that we can’t always articulate. It can be further complicated by cognitive biases that cause us to think and act irrationally, all the while believing that we are being utterly rational!
This is a list of 58 Cognitive Biases that screw up everything we do!

See related posts:

A lust for trust

How do you create trust? 

Why you should trust your intuition

Ann Hawkins is a business growth specialist who will help you to make more profit, keep you accountable for your success and introduce you to a support network of your peers. Ann is the founder of The Inspired Group, co-presenter of The Business Hub radio show and owner of The Social Media Show. If you’d like to talk to Ann about how to take your business from OK to Excellent call her on 07711 705038

One starfish at a time

Star fish 213x160 One starfish at a time What have you accomplished in your life?

What are you planning to accomplish?

How will this measure up to what other people have accomplished?

There are likely to be people who accomplish more than you and people who accomplish less, right?

Does it matter?

All of these questions came to mind after listening to the audience reaction to inspirational speaker Marcus Orlovsky.
Marcus is a remarkable person who has achieved many things that most us only dream about (the sub-text of his talk is Dare to Dream).
Some of the audience members were inspired and fired up but, faced with such prodigious talent, such motivation and such drive, others felt overwhelmed, exhausted and lacking.
It was while pondering the enormity of the changes I’d like to make to society, and the feeling that I didn’t know where to start, that I remembered the story of the starfish.

If you haven’t heard it, this is a story about thousands of starfish that had been left stranded on a beach after a storm and were dying in the heat of the sun.

A woman was walking along, carefully picking up one starfish at a time and throwing them into the receding tide.

A man passing by said, “What a waste of time. You can’t possibly save all of these starfish. Even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The woman bent down and picked up another starfish and carefully threw it into the ocean and said, “It made a difference to that one.”

Changing the whole of society is too big a job for me but it doesn’t mean that I can’t make a difference – one person at a time.

What about you?

Picture © Copyright Pam Brophy and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence

Ann Hawkins is a business growth specialist who will help you to make more profit, keep you accountable for your success and introduce you to a support network of your peers. Ann is the founder of The Inspired Group, co-presenter of The Business Hub radio show and owner of The Social Media Show. If you’d like to talk to Ann about how to take your business from OK to Excellent call her on 07711 705038

Is your business in danger of disruption?

Tower records 180x180 Is your business in danger of disruption?

Who is breathing down your neck?

We already know about the struggle in the high street; about retail stores being forced to re-think how they do business – check out how Burberry is reacting to that with their blending of the digital and physical retail experience.
We know about HMV and the music industry being usurped by Spotify and music sharing sites ; about Kodak going to the wall after decades of successful trading and Instagram being sold for $1 billion dollars only two years after it launched.
We know about AirBnB, the home-sharing service that is already approaching the worth of some of the biggest hotel chains in the world, with virtually no overheads.
We know about Uber giving taxi and car hire firms a big shake up and bicycle sharing schemes slashing revenues on bicycle production.

Are there any businesses that you think will never be affected by this trend?

How about the law?
Clive Rich started LawBite, an online documents and advice service to offer “a low-cost and easy-to-understand legal service” to the UK’s 5m small businesses. Its prospectus predicts total sales of £9.7m and gross profit of £4.3m by the end of 2016.
How about beer?
A tiny craft brewery run by two fishermen and dog in Glasgow took on the world of big brewing. Brewdog turned to Twitter and Facebook to connect with their fans and got the crowd to create new products, voting on key ingredients and a name. Its average annual growth since 2007 has been 167 per cent. BrewDog has raised nearly £6million from 12,500 small investors, many of whom have never owned a share.
Business services?
The blur Group, a global expert service exchange has only 50 employees but connects businesses with more than 32,000 expert service providers in more than 140 countries. The platform makes a margin of 20% on every deal.

Zero Marginal Cost

It took Amazon eight years to make a profit but once the fixed costs are in place, most of these disruptive businesses have almost zero marginal costs, allowing fast and easy growth. This has left many traditional companies reeling.

How much does it cost you to acquire a new customer or produce more stock?

Hundreds of millions of people are transferring parts of their economic lives to these new businesses. They are making and sharing their own information, entertainment, green energy and 3D-printed products.

Brands and Crowds

Some companies have seen the trend and are taking the view that they’ll join the movement rather than try to fight it.
Instead of hiring a car from Avis, you can test drive a new BMW for free with a code sent to your smart phone, picking it up and leaving it at pre-arranged spots.
The clothing store Patagonia has a re-seller site on eBay where they encourage their customers to re-sell their goods instead of buying new – proving how hard wearing and long lasting they are and re-enforcing their “green” profile.

New (and not so new) business models

There are business models that are set up for all stakeholders: owners, employees, shareholders, suppliers and customers to be partners. Some of these are new, some have been working quietly for over 100 years but it does seem that technology is enabling more people to experiment with different ways of doing business.
There are flat structures, no job descriptions, no set hours, results driven, “bring your own device” and remote working organisations that make a profit.
There is even an experiment in total democracy, a crowd sourced business called Agora that anyone can join, contribute to ideas and vote on decisions.
In this world, people formerly called “consumers” are now also funders, producers, sellers and distributors.
The challenge for all of us is to figure out how this is going to affect our own little corners of the business world and to make sure we’re not the next Kodak or HMV.

What are your favourite disruptors? Is your business immune to disruption? 

How much would you pay for an ice-cube?

ice cube How much would you pay for an ice cube?
Could an ice cube be worth $8?

Gläce Luxury Ice apparently is. You can choose from the traditional cube shape called G3 (G-Cubed) or the Mariko sphere, pictured here. 

Sweep away all the hyperbole of the purity of the water, the re-sealable pouch that avoids contamination, the melt rate and the hand crafted surfaces and what you’re left with is ice that anyone with a freezer can make for a few pennies.

Does is sell? Yes it does, to people who put on luxury events.

What does this mean?

Do some people have more money than sense?

No. It means that price and value are perceptions. 

If you’d like  help with developing your pricing policy just ask (no charge, no obligation!) 

When you sell ice at $8 a cube what are your really selling?

You’re selling hedonism, decadence, self-indulgence.

You’re not selling frozen water.

Pricing extremes are important to profit.

You can’t be the cheapest in the market unless your whole business is geared to price control and volume (think Ryan Air).

You can be the most expensive if you know exactly what you’re selling.

If you go with mediocre, your profits will be mediocre.

Every product or service has something other than price to distinguish it from the competition – even if that is only the words you use to describe it – the perception you create.

Figure out what that is.

Figure out who will pay for it.

That’s your market.

Go get it. 

This is one of the topics that we cover in my on-line mentoring group

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Blogging for Business

subscribe by email Blogging for Business Blogging is more important that its ever been.

I keep being asked “Now that I can’t reach my fans on Facebook (because of the algorithm changes), what should I do?

Many people who already had a blog have closed their Facebook pages and asked their fans to follow their blog instead. People who didn’t have a blog are having to start from scratch to build up a following but many still don’t appreciate the benefits of having their own “owned” domain and of collecting data that gives them a mailing list.

There are several ways to earn money from blogging, directly or indirectly, and they all rely on building up an audience. This is an interview with Martyn Sibley who talks about the three basic models of earning money from blogging and why he had to change from his original strategy to an alternative that will enable him to create a more sustainable revenue.
We also touch on creating value, the importance of persisting and how to maintain your creativity.



It was 2005 when I invited Lloyd Davis to come to Cambridge to talk to The Inspired Group about blogging. It’s fair to say that most people left without any real idea of how important blogging would become in the business world. Since then, and the advent of Facebook and Twitter, blogging has been declared dead on more than one occasion but the main benefit of blogging, whether you want to earn money from it or not, is to gather an email list of people who like your stuff, a list that is in your control, that no-one can take away from you and that you can use to promote your business in lots of different ways.

Another important aspect is to bring people to your own web real-estate and not a platform controlled by someone else; a place where you decide how it looks, what content to create and what is advertised (if anything). Why would you give all this away?

I’ve been doing this since 2005 and have built my business through blogging so if you’d like to know more, just ask!

For help with developing your business why not join my mentoring group?

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Role models – and why they don’t work

Mirror Role models   and why they dont work I have a theory about role models.

For the last ten years I’ve had the privilege of bringing interesting, inspiring people to the attention of a bunch of folk via talks, interviews, podcasts and blogs. None of them are superstars, none of them are celebs. All of them, in some way, have achieved awesome things.

People who want to bring about some change in their lives are often seen quoting snappy sound bites from long dead heroes or high flyers but rarely make any changes based on these quotes. It seems to be just a knee jerk thing: “Quoting what I want may make it happen without me having to do the work.”

(See previous post “What is it you’re NOT doing?”)

Mystifyingly, the more accessible heroes don’t get quoted but don’t get copied either.

Making changes is uncomfortable and takes a lot of hard work. It often involves people around us having to make changes too.

With so many great role models to inspire us, why is it that none of them seem to work?

Here’s my theory:
Using a dead hero or a seemingly inaccessible celebrity as a role model immediately lets us off the hook. We can’t really aspire to do the same things because those people are too different to us so it’s easy to admire them and quote them (often tiresomely, sickeningly and indiscriminately) without making any attempt to copy them.
On the other hand, people who are similar to us, people we know and have met, who live in in the same world as us and who have achieved things we’d like to achieve, are accessible. There is no real excuse for not copying them, not taking them as role models and yet these people often get ignored – not even quoted!


Because they make us uncomfortable.

We admire them but somehow their success is more like a reproach. They are so much more like us that it should be easy to copy them, easy to make those changes we say we want but it’s hard, so we don’t – but because they are so much like us, there is no excuse – and so we choose to ignore them.

Quoting a celebrity, someone who is different to us,  allows us the illusion that change is possible.
Looking at someone who is the same as us is like holding up a mirror to our ourselves and knowing that we are actively making the decision NOT to change.

That’s why its easier to ignore them.

So, if we profess to be inspired and still take no action, what is the point of looking for more inspiration?

Does it mean that instead of inspiration, instead of looking outside of ourselves, all we really need is to make a decision and take action and that we don’t need role models at all?

Well, that’s my theory anyway. What do you think?

Living in the moment – is this success?

Martyn Sibley 2 300x264 Living in the moment   is this success?

When do you say “I’m successful”?

When do you say “I’ve done what I set out to do”

When do you relax and say “That’s enough”?

Martyn Sibley gave a talk at The Inspired Group in 2012 in our Steps to Success series. He took the topic on self -belief being an intrinsic part of success and talked about why it is important and why he has it in bucket loads.

Martyn was already hugely successful but has gone on to spend the last couple of years having more adventures, achieving more of his goals and realising his most important dreams.

I’m lucky enough to meet lots of inspiring people in my business: its one of the reasons I do what I do, but Martyn consistently stops me in my tracks, makes me want to cheer and shout and  gives me such belief in what we human beings can achieve that I’m always enriched by his activities, whether its scuba diving, developing his business, drinking too much vodka or falling in love.

My post this week is a link to Martyn’s latest message because I can’t say anything better and I want everyone I know to read it. Think about what it means to you, whatever your circumstances and then dare yourself to do half of the things he has done and plans to do.

Read what Martyn has to say about Shedding Money Worries and Unleashing Your Creative Beast  and then tell me what your plans are for doing the same!

For help with achieving your goals talk to me  about peer group or 1:1 mentoring 

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Why purpose led businesses succeed

startwithwhy Why purpose led businesses succeed

A business built with a true purpose is more likely to succeed

Any business can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate WHY.

WHY is not money or profit, quality products or services. Those are results.

To discover your WHY you need to get personal, to get down into the grass roots. WHY does your business exist? WHY does it do the things it does? And WHY should anyone care?
Knowing your “WHY” will help refine your strategy, branding, marketing, products and services.

It will help you to differentiate your business and rise above the competition.

This is one of the things that always has a huge impact when I talk to people about how to take their business to the next level.

In its simplest form, WHY is your purpose for creating your business.

Walt Disney wanted to make people happy. He believed that every child deserves a chance to smile and that no matter how old you are, you always have an inner child ready to have fun.

Compare this to The Disney Corporation’s mission statement:

“The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.”

Where is the joy, the happiness, the creativity that built the business?

A WHY is just a belief. That’s all it is.

HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief

WHATs are the results of those actions… everything you say and do: your products, services, marketing, culture and who you hire.

The next time someone asks, “Why should I do business with you?” answer with your why – say “I believe …… ” and see what happens.

What is your why? What do you believe about what you do?

Share it with me, I’d love to hear it!


What is it you’re NOT doing?

happy poster 300x300 What is it youre NOT doing?

Do you have quotes pinned to your wall?

Do you have one that says “Be honest”?

Or one that says “Wear clothes”?


That could be because you’re already in the habit of being honest and wearing clothes so you don’t need to remind yourself.

So if you pin something to your wall it usually means its something you want to do, but haven’t yet made a habit.

“Nothing wrong with that” I hear you mutter – and you’re right.


If you have something like the quote in this picture stuck to your wall, if you need reminding about something so fundamental, you probably need need help to make some changes.

If pinning a quote to the wall is your equivalent of ticking it off your mental ‘to do’ list, it will soon just become part of your wallpaper and nothing will change. If you notice it at some later time you’ll just get a guilty jolt that you did nothing about it. Eventually you’ll stop looking at it or take it down because it makes you feel bad.

If a quote resonates with you its usually because you need to change something and that means taking ACTION to form a new habit and that ain’t easy.

A new habit needs be in line with your values and your most important goals:

There’s no point in trying to get a new habit if you create a conflict:
You want to eat less but can’t bear to waste food.
You want to spend more time on your business but don’t want to spend less time with your family.
You want to read more books but also want to get more sleep.

One of the best ways to form a new habit is to make yourself accountable to someone else, someone who will encourage you and celebrate with you – not someone who will use it to beat you up and make you feel guilty.

For more information on deciding on your most important goals, values and creating new habits get my FREE workbook “How to Have Your Best Year, EveryYear”

To make lasting changes
talk to me  about peer group or 1:1 mentoring 

What have you got stuck on your wall? What is it you’re NOT doing?

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