The Science of Propinquity (and why it will help you sell more) from featured Author Tom Martin

Matt Heinz

Tom Martin, author of The Invisible Sale and the headliner of last week’s Sales Book Club (no reading required!), answered questions for nearly forty minutes until things got weird.  

Up until that point we had talked about selling in a crisis, how to keep prospects engaged, how to educate the self-educated – you know, the kind of insights you’d expect from someone steeped in the digital sales and marketing world.

We broached the subject of whether sales professionals should be creating content, a topic that can be controversial with passionate answers on both sides.  Tom’s take?  That sales should serve as a constant source of content inspiration (based on their constant conversations with the market) and marketing should actively engage, triage and convert these nuggets into a more valuable editorial calendar.

It wasn’t until I asked Tom to define for us the science of propinquity that I heard the best practical definition of social selling I’ve perhaps ever heard.

Up until this point, I thought propinquity was just another Nitty Gritty Dirt Band song.  When I asked the question, Tom perked up and said he had originally fought with his book editor to call his book The Science of Propinquity instead of The Invisible Sale.  

Tom, I think the editor was right.  Their book title likely helped you sell more books.  But once you started talking about propinquity last Thursday, I realized this was perhaps the most important part of the book and the most valuable lesson for sales professionals listening in.

According to Wikipedia, in social psychology, propinquity is one of the main factors leading to interpersonal attraction. It refers to the physical or psychological proximity between people. Propinquity can mean physical proximity, a kinship between people, or it can be developed through digital channels as well.

Propinquity can be developed by spending more time with people.  The more you see them, the more you like them.  The more you listen to them, the more you learn, the more you are likely to want to spend more time with them.

Social selling has never really been about selling and closing.  And too often it’s also an awkward and unnatural way to do cold outreach as well if you don’t already have a relationship or something truly valuable to share.

Through the lens of propinquity, social selling is about “running into” your prospects more often.  Engaging with their posts with a like, retweet or even a comment.  Earning their follow of your content, then sharing good stuff on a regular basis.

I’m honestly glad we haven’t heard the term “social selling” in a long time, as it’s really at this point merged into good general selling best practices.  Now that the social selling mania is apparently past us, we finally have a decent definition for what it was intended to help us with all along.

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