Social Selling in 2023: The right balance between automation and human interaction

With the rise of AI and automation, LinkedIn has also been hit by a tsunami of communication that can quickly become painful to look at or receive. 

“Is Social Selling still relevant in 2023?” is often a question I am asked by management, who continuously must prioritize which sales activities the organization should focus on.

Automation is effective – but only partially

In our work with existing and potential clients within Social Selling and hybrid sales training, we often hear how companies have used various automation and AI tools such as Dux-Soup or Meet Leonard to expand their professional network with connections within their target audience. However, the feedback is often that it takes more work to start a dialogue with relevant people. Not a big surprise, I think.

Once Social Selling was “easy”

When I started doing Social Selling in 2010, it was relatively “easy” to get into dialogue with relevant people on LinkedIn. Today, many people use the platform purely commercially and forget about enriching their connections. It is often generic messages characterized by automation, which is easy to notice. I hear from many people at C-level that their inbox on LinkedIn is invaded with impersonal and generic messages and Inmails from people they don’t know at all. Therefore, it requires something extra to get attention and, not least, commitment. But because so many people use LinkedIn clumsily and generically, there is also potential to stand out positively.

AI cannot (yet) replace real human interaction

From the moment you have connected with relevant people, it is crucial to start seeing them as professional relationships and not just as potential customers. At this stage, I no longer believe that AI or automation is the right solution. This requires authenticity, empathy, flexibility, and the ability to research the recipient’s business situation on an individual level. These qualities help build relationships that ultimately mean you are taken seriously.

This is how you can stand out between 930 million LinkedIn users

Social Selling is still relevant in 2023. But it’s essential to understand that automation and AI can only get you part of the way. At some point, the human touch must come into play. If not, you just end up as another connection added to the network. One approach I’ve experienced an excellent response with is short personal videos (about 20-30 seconds) made with my phone. These personal LinkedIn video messages make a huge difference in response to e.g. emails. The correspondence below shows how a connection in my network responds to my video, which is an invitation to a professional morning meeting.

Hard work

In B2B sales, the importance of human interaction cannot be underestimated. While AI and automation can contribute to streamlining and top-funnel activities, emotional intelligence, adaptability, and the ability to build trust are irreplaceable. By embracing a hybrid approach that combines technology with a human touch, companies can still achieve strong results with Social Selling and a Hybrid Sales Approach.

Some people can use automation and AI tools in the early stages of sales. Still, when it comes to building relationships, I believe empathy and authenticity are essential. 

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