Social selling is one of the hottest buzzwords in the technology market. Unfortunately, social selling is usually misunderstood as navigating the sales process using only tools like Twitter TWTR +3.26%, Linkedin LNKD +5.49%, or Facebook. While technology can help, social selling is about building stronger relationships with potential buyers, based on an authentic sense of empathy and a deep understanding of the problems they face.
Even if they don’t use social technology, good salespeople already know that creating a connection with the client is essential for success. In real life (IRL for social types), connections are usually made on some common value or some shared demographic. This is why salespeople spend so much time establishing a personal relationship, not just selling their product.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia have shown that incidental similarities between a buyer and seller are enough to establish a personal connection and increase the likelihood to purchase. Incidental similarities include a wide range of events: a shared first name, birthday or birthplace. In the words of one of the professors:
Those incidental similarities can actually shape the situation in terms of your desire to buy and associate with the product or company, your attitude toward the product. It overflows onto the purchase experience — even though, rationally, it really shouldn’t.
Incidental similarities create a sense of connection even though they are superficial and common. Yes, common. For example, in a group of 23 people, the chance two people have the same birthday is greater than 50%. Many companies already exploit this opportunity:
Employees at Disney theme parks and Hilton Hotels wear name tags emblazoned with their hometowns, the researchers note, and many fitness centres display detailed biographies of their personal trainers, right down to the high school they attended.
Social technology can be used to discover the incidental similarities. So, if a sales rep points out he roots for the same sports team as you do, it’s probably not an accident. And chances are you’ll spend more than you originally expected.
That’s the science of