Social selling is a hot topic, but what does it really mean? Is it technology or behavior..

I started my career in sales about 15 years ago. I received the ‘Yellow Pages’ as a welcoming present. (Not even in wrapping paper—how cheap can you be?) And I started making calls. I made 60-80 ‘cold calls per day’, to be more precise. For what reason? Honestly, was there something else?


What’s in a name?

“Hey Shkuri, are you coming with us to watch a soccer world cup game?” asked my colleague. As I just had a new job, I wanted to do some more calls, so I declined his invitation. After he had left, I asked myself, why did he use my last name? My first name has only four letters. Isn’t that easier?

But the same day, I knew why. I was the one promoting my last name over the phone. (He was only 2 meters away from my desk, so I brainwashed him.) To pitch on the phone and pronouncing my full chance. Imagine this. Hello, this is !!@#*&$ from.. sorry, with WHO? No sorry, not interested. So I stopped using my full name on sales calls. I decided to simplify. My last name is more than enough, don’t you think?

(By the way, there is not such a thing as a difficult name. There is only something called “I don’t know, like, or trust you enough to make me listen.” How do I know this? I know how to spell Ibrahimovic, and 90% of all soccer fans spell his name right.)




As Malcolm Gladwell says, ” The tipping point of greatness is 10.000 hours of work.” So was I a cold call expert?

One thing I know for sure: Cold calling is effective if the goal is to increase the resilience of a salesperson. It’s by far the best thing after doing nothing. And from my experience, there are a lot of sales people that prefer to do nothing instead of…precisely. Still, cold calling is ineffective from a lead generation point of view. The conversion is terrible. Everybody knows this, so let’s continue.


In my early days, it was about survival, and I was trying to earn myself a reputation. At least, that’s what I thought. What I’ve learned is that I worked 40 hours too much for years. In retrospect, I knew that there was also something else at play; I just needed to show I could do this alone. In other words, EGO.


Silver lining

This went on for about five years, and in 2008, I had begun to build some references, which made my life as a sales person a little bit easier because I could leverage my existing customers. I could use social proof (reference cases) to build trust with my prospects.

In 2010, I went on a holiday to Nice, and when I got bored with the sunbathing, I told my wife that I was going to sit in the shade. She knew what was coming. I asked the waiter for a pen and paper so I could write about my sales approach, and there, it came to epiphany!


Social selling

My rhetorical question was “Why do I only help if this prospect was only willing to buy from me? It doesn’t make sense. Let’s say I drive two hours to meet somebody on their premises. I receive a “No, I am not interested in your solution” kind of answer and, then, drive another two hours back – very inefficient. I wanted to fix this annoying ‘bug.’

So, how did I fix it? Simple. Always provide an introduction if you can’t help at that particular moment. Then the four-hour drive is not for nothing. Think about it; yes, please do.

Social Selling

If you don’t help this prospect by referring him to somebody else, someone else will. And you have lost the chance to show your added value. My advice is to think long-term.

To be a sales person is who you are; it’s not a temporary job. Yes, the lead will evaporate, the opportunity will go, but the relationship can endure a lifetime – that’s what makes social selling sustainable.

“Companies don’t own relationships; people do!”

Would you choose a lot of money or a lot of friends? I will choose, uh … both, please. Before you know it, you are working somewhere else, so you need a lot of friends to survive. And remember that 90% of sales happen when you are not around.

The Big ‘BONUS’ with Social selling

I tried to see if I could make as many introductions as I could, and so I made about 70 referrals in 2 years’ time. Not bad, right? And there is the big bonus.

“You make only two people happy if you do a deal for yourself. And if you make a referral…one, two, and yes, that’s three people: the person you introduce, the person you make the introduction for, and yourself. And somewhere along the road, they will take care of your interest.”

For me, social selling is selling with a purpose. It is not about technology.

“A fool with a tool is still a fool.”

I can do much more for other people in my sales role than in any other job (and you can, too).


For example:
A social seller can make introductions.
A social seller can arrange a job interview.
A social seller builds relationships for life.

Human economics

Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, was convinced that economics is about human economics. Most people want to reciprocate, and that’s the practical reason for becoming a social seller. His example goes as follows:

Suppose somebody gives me ten dollars and tells me to share it – some, all, or none of it – with you. If you accept my offer, we both get to keep the money; When you reject it, however, neither of us gets anything.


Daniel Kahneman 10 dollar


If I would offer you five dollars and keep five dollars for myself, would you accept it? Almost certain yes. Let’s say I was to offer you 4 dollars; would you take that? Probably yes. But what if I was to offer you two dollars, which means that I would keep eight dollars, would you accept that? Almost sure, no!

That makes no sense regarding wealth maximization. If you accept my offer of two dollars, you are two dollars richer, If you reject it you get nothing. Your cognitive calculator knows two is greater than zero but because you are a human being your notions of fair play and your desire for revenge overrides it. The point is that people don’t make rational decisions. In general, they just want to be ‘fair.’

So, are you a social seller? 

So, are you a social seller?

There is only a place for salespeople that add value. The world is so transparent now that you will get caught in the act if you think different. Ten years ago, you could do something bad to one of your clients and get away with it. Today, the unmasking goes much faster. So, always be giving first to build trust faster. That’s social selling.

So the next time you make the call…they know how to spell your name.