In a previous blog I set myself a challenge to raise my Klout score. I have social ‘L’ plates and I had the privilege to meet Thomas Power a social giant to talk about all that is social (follow the link to read about social media vs social networking) and how it is a major force influencing B2B, B2C and B2B2C commerce. We talked about a lot of stuff including the need for education as being social is a skill that can be taught.

As I write this I am thinking about people for whom networking is a necessity and how accomplished they are can make a big difference to their work (results) and professional credentials.

LinkedIn launched late 2002 and I have been a user since December 2003 and they tell me my profile strength is All Star, so am I done? No. Twitter launched July 2006 and I joined in July 2012 so a late adopter. Both LinkedIn and Twitter are the top social channels and until I met with Thomas Power I was unaware of the significance of Twitter. Now I have to up my game on Twitter.

In the past week I had three conversations with different people heading up sales teams that are finding it hard to generate new business. Banging the phones and email marketing campaigns are not producing the leads and return on investment. How many salespeople have invested time to explore and understand how to use social channels? It is a tough call if you are under the cosh for numbers and just when will this experiment with social channels open the floodgate to sales opportunity? Back on the phone, the next call will land me a lead that I can forecast.

For a long time we have taught salespeople ‘technique’ and you may recognise SPIN and Solution Selling as examples. When there was plenty of opportunity and buyers activating seeking out or welcoming sellers in their buying cycle then technique counted for a lot and sales superstars were born. They knew how to qualify and close business and were richly rewarded. Now buyers are engaging sellers much later in their buying cycle by which time they may have qualified you out of their shortlist so those techniques never get put to use.

The new game is ‘influence’ but how do you earn influence? First, update your technique by reading The Challenger Sale. Second, learn how to use social channels to earn influence. I have found my own sources of education and inspiration and suggest you commit time to accumulate the skills you need to be an influencer just as you invested time to perfect your technique as a salesperson.

The new sales superstars will combine technique and influence and be sought by buyers in their buying cycle as a subject matter expert or use their social presence to connect with buyers when timely and relevant. This has given birth to The Social Seller who does not think about cold calling rather they follow their customers (LinkedIn and Twitter) and make a timely intervention with a tweet, a call or email. Technology is available to support your daily routine as a Social Seller some are free (Twitter) or pay by subscription (hey a small investment).

To kick-start your social skills visit Sales Innovation Expo 13-14 May 2015 Excel London to order your free tickets. See you there I will be talking about being sold to by a Social Seller and the curious thing is it felt like I was buying rather than being sold to.