Selling has long been a social paradigm. We are social creatures and tend to buy from brands we recognise or from individuals we trust. For salespeople, a customer’s trust has primarily come from brand recognition or a seller’s individual reputation. Now with social media, customer trust and brand recognition has a new ally. In the past, there was only telephone, email,or face-to-face, now, social media interactions can play a crucial part in building trust, networking, and selling.
So what is social selling?
Rather than a hard and fast closing tactic, ‘social selling’ is more of a process for connecting with buyers, nurturing leads, and building trust. For anyone engaged in selling, social media offers the perfect medium for researching, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers. Over time, through commenting on, liking, and sharing prospects’ and customers’ posts, you’ll be able to build trust and reputation as a thought leader within your niche.
What are the best platforms for social selling?
A lot of social selling occurs via professional networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter, but that doesn’t mean that other networks aren’t worth bothering with. For any salesperson, the age-old question remains: “Where are my potential customers?” If you find your prospects are “hanging out” on other social networks, that’s where you’ll need to be. As ever, the key is research!
If you’re new to social selling and you’re not quite sure where to start or what your strategy should look like, here are 4 tips to help get you started:
1. Broaden your network
If you’ve already mastered the art of meeting prospects in the real-world, you’re just a few keystrokes away from networking with them in the digital world. The joy of the social media age is that people are happy to share information about themselves. Whatever your chosen niche, you’ll find that prospects are already sharing their information on Twitter and LinkedIn. As a starting point use Google’s site search function to search social networks for relevant keywords to your chosen niche. Social networks also have their own native search tools, so it can be good to try those out as well. This initial research step can help you identify potential prospects to connect with, the next step is to work out how to connect with them.
Remember, social selling is a soft sell approach. It’s an art form that takes time and subtlety. The key is to build up trust and reputation over time, rather than hitting them with a sales pitch. Find out what they are talking about, what they are interested in, what their pain points are, and interact with their posts. This could involve retweeting an article they’ve written, commenting on one of their posts, or joining a discussion in a LinkedIn group that they are a member of. By interacting in a non-salesy way, and offering advice and insight into their problems, you’ll be able to get on their radar and gain their trust.
2. Develop your personal brand
An essential part of the trust-building process is developing your personal brand. Your ultimate goal is to become a thought-leader within your niche. To do so, you’ll need to share your knowledge and expertise with your prospects and customers.
For developing your personal brand, content is king. Use LinkedIn’s pulse, your company website, your professional blog, or industry sites to publish content that is of interest to your prospects. Ask yourself questions like: “what are my prospect’s challenges?” or “what do my customers need to know about our products?” - the key is to produce useful content that will help them to be more successful.
3. Identify opportunities and threats
Social media can help you spot opportunities and threats in real-time, and fortunately, much of this process can be automated. A good starting point is to set up Google alerts to monitor mentions of competitor terms such as brand names, people, or specific products. You can also use social listening tools such as Hootsuite and Radian6 to search for keywords mentioned by prospects or competitors on social media.
Another vital step is to join key customer groups on LinkedIn, and follow customers, competitors and thought leaders on Twitter to see what they’re saying. It’s also worth keeping an eye on SlideShare, Scribd, and EventBrite for presentations or events that your competitors and prospects are involved with. By monitoring what’s happening in your industry you’ll be more able to handle customer objections, identify your prospect’s specific needs, and counter competitor offers.
4. Profiling your lead
With so much information on offer, social media is ideal for profiling your lead. Use it to find out more about your target companies and key decision makers. Knowledge is power. Successful social selling tends to be a combination of lead profiling and lead nurturing. By learning about their needs, objectives, and pain points you’ll be in a better position to answer the questions they have either via digital content, social interactions, or traditional in-person contact.
If you’re looking for a new position within the Sales sector, or need to hire a Sales professional, then please do get in touch with us, we’d love to help!