The pressure is on to consistently perform. But the environment to perform has changed dramatically. Prospecting for leads is being replaced by Social Selling.  And the foundation for Social Selling is creating Social Debt.


sales creating social debt


Get the Creating Social Debt Guide.  It teaches you how to create and capitalize on Social Debt.  But it also informs you ‘How to Ask’ for something. But what do you do with Social Debt? How can you leverage it?  What is Social Debt?


Social Debt is the act of doing something of perceived value for an individual. This predisposes them when prompted to ‘Return the Favor.’  When you ‘Pay It Forward’, the receiving person realizes you do something unnecessary.  This act creates a ‘debt’ in their mind.  Each time you help that person the debt increases.  Over time, you then have earned the right to ask.  Ask for a referral, introduction to someone, or simply advice.


There are 5 major ways to create Social Debt for someone:


  • Connect them to a peer in another company:  Hooking someone up with a like peer allows for best practice sharing.  Too often, Sales VPs don’t get ideas outside of their own sales organizations. This leads to complacency, stagnation and eventual job loss.
  • Introduce them to a ‘Dream Customer’:  This is the most valuable form of Social Debt.  Connect your customer to one of their dream prospects. Have your sales rep find out who his customer’s Sales VP wants to sell. Then see if you can introduce this Sales VP to this dream customer. Social debt is now instantly created.
  • Help fill a key open position:  Everyone needs talented people but few can find them.  Hiring someone through a referral helps find this talent. .  You can create social debt by referring someone to them they can hire.  .
  • Provide free sales or career advice:  Always ‘Pay it forward’ with free advice.  Doesn’t matter what it is or how you do it.  Taking a personal interest with someone is critical.  They will notice you going out of your way to help.  This is another huge social debt win.
  • Help with a personal job search:  You are at your lowest when you lose a job.   Massive amounts of personal social debt are created when you take interest and help someone get a job.  Helping with a job search includes getting them an interview.  It could be helping re-write their resume or Linked In profile.  Debt is created by taking an interest and helping them find their next job.


Events are the best way to get introduced to decision makers.  We recently attended a Sales and Marketing Event with two of our customers.  One week after the event I asked if it was successful.  There were two very different answers.


The first Sales VP, Evan, did not meet one new significant contact from the event.  He said the sessions provided some new learning’s but felt it was a bust.  The second Sales VP, Mark,  was introduced to 4 new people.  He called these new contacts ‘Referral Sources.’ A ‘Referral Source’ can make a quality introduction to someone we want to know. He told me the event was great. What was the difference?


Evan just showed up at the event.  Other than reviewing the agenda and blocking his calendar, he didn’t prepare at all.  I also noticed him during the day on his phone in the hallway.  He didn’t stay in any session for the entire time.  And I didn’t see him at the networking event either.


Mark did his homework.  He had scheduled 2 brief meetings with people he identified beforehand.  I asked what he did to set up these meeting.  Simply, he reviewed the sessions and the speakers.  One of the speakers was his peer but in another industry.  He dropped her a Linked In note asking if they could share best practices. I attended this short meeting in the hallway.  The conversation led to him offering her some insight around her problem.  She then introduced him later to several others he wanted to meet.   He created Social Debt with her and didn’t even know it.


Creating Social Debt Call to Action:


  • Have a Pay It Forward Mentality:  Always think about how to create social debt.  What can you do for them?  Who does this person know?  Why would they meet with me?
  • Earn the Right to Ask:  Never ask someone for something until you have done several things for them.  The rule of 3 is applied here.  Create a minimum of 3 social debts before you ask for anything.
  • Turn Social Debt into Referrals:  Use your Social Debt stockpile. Ask for a referral by pinpointing the introduction. Note though that everyone is different.  Some people will pay you back immediately.  Others it might take several years.  But it always gets repaid.


Creating Social Debt is the new way to get referrals and business.  What cold calling was in 1997 referrals will be in 2014.  Remember how you felt when someone did something for you?  They were creating Social Debt.  You now ‘owe’ them something in return.  Ask yourself this question:  “What Social Debt have I created today?”