The Pretence of Social Media

Face to face
I’ve been a big fan of Jeffrey Gitomer for many years. Over that time I have recommended his books to many people and quoted him often.

As soon as I heard about his most recent book, The Sale Redefined, I ordered a copy for my Kindle. Sadly, it was a great disappointment.

I think that in an attempt to be seen as different and ‘cutting edge’, he recommends actions for salespeople that while sounding 21st century, will lead to salespeople wasting time on Social Media at the expense of results.

For salespeople – I am not talking about businesses, but individual salespeople – Social Media is a waste of time. The pretence of Social Media is that it’s a perfect excuse for salespeople to pretend to be busy.


I see many agents mucking about sending Tweets, and when I check their profiles find that most have a very low number of followers. So they send a Tweet to 20 people and think they are heavily into Social Media. And while they are doing that they are not prospecting. Would you expect results if you distributed only 20 leaflets? Why is a Tweet to 20 people any different?

To quote Jeffrey Gitomer:

“Begin your personal value-branding today. Goal yourself to gain 100 LinkedIn connections, achieve 500 Facebook followers who “like” you on your business page, and earn 250 Twitter followers who are re-tweeting the value messages you have to offer to them. REALITY: Social media is the new cold call”.

While this sounds reasonable when you first read it, this advice contains one major flaw:

100 Linkedin contacts, 500 facebook followers, and 250 Twitter followers are useless if those contacts are not your TARGET MARKET.

To tell you the truth, I don’t care if my message is retweeted by a fifteen year old kid to his 30 followers. It’s nice of him to do so, but frankly I don’t care.

I have more than 5,000 Twitter followers. Almost every product I produce is to make real estate agents more profitable. So if those 5,000 Twitter followers are mostly real estate agents (I’d estimate in excess of 75 percent are), then the messages I send will be viewed largely by my target market.

But if most of my followers are not real estate people, my messages don’t reach my target market. But I guess I can still tell people I have 5,000 followers, and I can still feel as though I’m a cutting edge marketer. The fact that it doesn’t generate any business doesn’t seem to enter the picture.

Gitomer does not talk about targeting followers, just having followers. Would you expect results if you prospected for listings in a building that was entirely occupied by tenants? No point, I’m sure you’d agree. It’s not your target market.

In his book, Make Millions Selling Real Estate: Earning Secrets of Top Agents, Jim Remley said:

“It’s easy to get caught up in new ideas and the promise of a magic bullet that will replace hard work”.

I think Social Media for salespeople fits into this category – a new idea posing as a magic bullet to replace hard work.

Social Media Experiment

One winner I know decided to try a Social Media experiment. He allocated 45 minutes per working day to Social Media. After eight months he could trace one listing to Social Media. That one listing sold for a fee of $12,000.

But think about his likely results had he spent that 45 minutes per working day on ‘old fashioned’ prospecting.

  • 45 minutes x 5 days = 225 minutes per week, or 7,650 minutes over 8 months
  • Allowing a generous average of 6 minutes per prospecting call = 1,275 homeowners spoken with over those same eight months
  • Allowing 1 listing per 100 people spoken with (again this is conservative), he would have received 12 listings (12.75 rounded down)
  • Allowing a worse-case-scenario list-to-sell ratio of 50 percent = 6 sales
  • At an average selling fee of $12,000 x 6 sales = $72,000 in fees over 8 months
  • $72,000 he could have received less the $12,000 he did receive = $60,000 lost through spending time on Social Media instead of prospecting

Ah, but had he done that he would not have been cutting edge. Just a bit richer.

Leaders should have people working at building the BUSINESS’S profile on facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, but those same leaders should keep their salespeople either out in the field, or on the phone, talking to clients and potential clients.

I shall leave the final word to my friend, Adam Horth, who achieved 21 listings in October 2012, seventeen of which came from door knocking. Adam used to be in I.T. prior to commencing his real estate career. He now speaks to 120 people at doors every week, and he is the leader of his own office.

Adam says:

Face to face, not face to facebook.

P.S. Don’t let this put you off Jeffrey Gitomer’s books. Most are excellent and a worthwhile read. I’m still a fan, just not of The Sale Redefined.

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