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Social Selling: Is selling a science or social activity?

Do you believe that personal selling is a social activity centered on relationships? Is this the reason so much attention is directed towards networking, establishing rapport, and leveraging existing relationships? - by Community Mailbox
Do you believe that personal selling is a social activity centered on relationships? Is this the reason so much attention is directed towards networking, establishing rapport, and leveraging existing relationships?

First, I don't buy into either terms, "social activity" or "relationships." Both terms are very fluid and are never properly defined. Standing in line at the local cinema is a social activity. In fact, as soon as you step into a car and get onto the road, you're engaged in a social activity.

So yes, selling involves a social activity but by default: society generates community shared meaning as a foundation of cooperation.

Selling is a contrived situation within a business environment. The "relationship" between buyer and seller occurs again by default.

If your talking to someone, you are relating to that person in the moment. Is every buying prospect a reliable friend to the sales agent? Of course not. So, what level of "relationship" is being inferred beyond the default foundation? Does the "relationship remain after the sale?

It is finally being revealed that while success does occur from networking, there is also an overall disproportionate amount of non-buying from these contacts. That is, while people are far more visible due to networking, they are not necessarily making more money on average.

Also with network-flooding, its integrity is being seriously damaged and is being reconsidered as a viable way to earn a living. We always hear about successful networking but not the thousands who spend hours at networking sites and receive very little in return.

Everyone who devotes time to Internet networking, should start writtng down the hours they spend, and the money they should be making per hour. It will be shocking! - by John Voris
Do you believe that personal selling is a social activity centered on relationships? Is this the reason so much attention is directed towards networking, establishing rapport, and leveraging existing relationships?
That's a valuable question and I'll give my thoughts based on how that question was worded.

I do NOT believe that personal selling is a social activity centered on relationships.

I do believe that some people view it as such. I also believe that some people have become very successful with that exact activity. Mindset or belief did not solely account for that. Right time, right place, and right set of circumstances were the critical factors.

Would such a belief be a reason that so much attention is directed towards networking, establishing rapport, and leveraging existing relationships?

I would say only a partial reason--and only among some people.

Social Networking, for instance, is a term which is now popularly attached to the Web--Facebook, Twitter, etc., being examples. That doesn't mean that the term only applies to those Web-based activities, of course.

I believe that our culture's celebrity consciousness accelerated the rise of those venues. A person today can sign up on Facebook, and, in pure Walter Mitty fashion, act as their very own paparazzi. I know people who live an alternate reality on Facebook--one completely isolated from their real everyday activities. I know others who use those venues to become pseudo-activists, as if complaining was all it took to bring about change. With no gender-specific intentions, I believe many are the modern day equivalents of "sob sisters."

Selling is and will always be a people business. But there are just too many variables of how people come together and interact to ascribe one form of interaction as the dominant one.

I want to pose another question: Is such attention often misplaced? - by Gary A Boye
Do you believe that personal selling is a social activity centered on relationships?

Interesting way to pose the question.
To the extent that selling is a communication between two people (or more) it is by definition social. And relationships play a part in selling.

Years ago I read a book that said there was a direct relationship between the strength of the relationship with a customer and the profitability of the account. We then did an analysis at my company and actually verified it was true in our business.

You then ask,
Is this the reason so much attention is directed towards networking, establishing rapport, and leveraging existing relationships?

I think we need to be clear about the term relationship here. This is not being a friend with the decision maker (although that can happen). It is about being a trusted resource to a customer. Likewise the rapport you have is a business rapport not chatting about what you did on the weekend with the kids.

Networking has always been a part of business, a way to keep your finger on the pulse. Looking for future trends and upcoming market issues. It can also mean that some cold calls are not so cold if you have met the person at a function some time ago.

And isn't it just good business sense to leverage an existing relationship ? Once someone has been buying from you for a while and things are going smoothly you have some "runs on the board" there is trust and confidence in you that will have an influence on any other offer you put to the customer.

So, I'm not sure the relationship you mention is a causal one. Also, it is not easy to be precise with concept terms like "relationship" and "social" because those things can mean different things to different people. - by Greg Woodley
I do believe in relationship selling. I do take the relationship farther than a lot of sales people. I do like to become involved in my client and in most cases it is more than a seller/ buyer relationship. I am a firm believer and teach the concept mixing both the professional and personal relationship with clients that want and allow that to develop. There are many people that want this type relationship.

In my opinion this is determined by your environment and how active you are in the social setting of your environment. We have many social events that are planned in the city I live. My clients and I see each other frequently and our conversations are more than hi how are you. As an example we just enjoyed a social setting at Giving Hunger the Blues. In a 4 hour time frame my wife and I visited with at least 2 dozen of my clients that were at the same event.

Do you believe that personal selling is a social activity centered on relationships? Is this the reason so much attention is directed towards networking, establishing rapport, and leveraging existing relationships?

I would agree with Johnís definition however I would add the strength and amount is determined by your actions concerning how far you want to jump into this course of action. A person that is sincere has passion, and the emotion and really does care about their clients and what they say will be highly successful with this type action. Someone who is using it as a tool to sell only, will most likely fail at it miserably. - by rich34232
We have many social events that are planned in the city I live. My clients and I see each other frequently and our conversations are more than hi how are you. As an example we just enjoyed a social setting at Giving Hunger the Blues. In a 4 hour time frame my wife and I visited with at least 2 dozen of my clients that were at the same event.
I'm curious as to what percentage of the people you make a sale to would be people who you "see frequently with conversations which are more than how are you."

If the percentage is high, and it reinforces a belief that personal selling is a social activity centered on relationships, one could draw at least two, possibly more, conclusions. First, it would mean that salespeople who sell in a non-localized environment would have a high degree of failure in sales activity. I would say that couldn't be correct for the simple reason that salespeople who work a global market are some of the highest earners. Second, it could also mean that we can only be successful selling people in engagements of familiarity. Strangers would be low probability prospects.

I've made over 50,000 sales in my life, and I rarely socialize with customers. - by Gary A Boye
Do you believe that personal selling is a social activity centered on relationships? Is this the reason so much attention is directed towards networking, establishing rapport, and leveraging existing relationships?
Social activity? As in... "activity considered appropriate on social occasions"?

In the final analysis "selling" is centered on self-interest (i.e., What's in it for me?). - by Jeff Blackwell
I consider selling to be a "craft."

Like most crafts, the better you learn and apply your craft, the more successful you are likely to be. Most of the best salespeople use a consistent, organized sales process that they continuously improve. - by JacquesWerth
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