Even the most traditional of sales super stars have come to recognise that the sales and marketing landscape has changed forever. ‘Social Selling’ is no longer an option!
What do we mean by social selling?…
In its simplest form it involves sharing insight and media resources to build trust and raise the profile of your brand within your target market – notably it should avoid the hard sell! When buyers are ready to take action your business will have a greater chance of securing the deal. Primary B2B social channels to support the sales frontline include LinkedIn and Twitter and depending on the type of business this may extend to Facebook and other relevant platforms. All should focus on helping your prospects in their day to day operational challenges!
Social media adds a layer of complexity to the sales operation however this should be seen as a positive and powerful opportunity to increase customer touch points. Remember… not all prospects use the same social media channels so it is advantageous for your brand to be represented on multiple platforms.
Define an ‘operational team’ approach. An effective social media strategy to generate leads and awareness requires a coherent and tailored plan of action because today’s buyers demand a more competitive and transparent sales experience!
Changes to the sales experience – The way ahead…
Selling is of course still about building relationships and persuading prospects to take action… however most of the sales process these days occurs online.
When defining an effective social selling strategy, a coordinated effort with input from sales, marketing plus your operations team is a good starting point. Fine tune the sales experience and determine roles and responsibilities at key stages of the customer sales experience. Sharing insight helps attract prospects to your organisation and allows businesses to demonstrate value and show their brand personality ahead of sales follow up!
Social media provides sellers with new channels to engage with prospects. No prizes for guessing that sellers must show professionalism and integrity at all times. Sellers would do well to become ambassadors for the industries and communities they represent. Remember that everything that is posted on these channels remains public domain! Think carefully before you engage!!! Make it worthwhile or say nothing at all!
Establish a powerful network…
Create firm foundations to support your social engagement
1. Create LinkedIn connections
- Reaching prospects over the phone in days gone by may have been tricky; LinkedIn helps provide valuable insight and fast track connections.
- Write a genuine and concise profile description.
- Share your career and personal accomplishments. Say something that reflects your passion, values and aspirations.
- Make connections with friends and industry peers who are likely to champion your sentiment.
- Ask your connections to make introductions on your behalf to prospects you’re trying to link with.
- Page visit alerts will help draw the attention of prospects and can increase the likelihood of future social engagement.
2. Join LinkedIn groups
- Top Tip: Find the profile page of those your wish to target, then view the groups that they belong to (scroll to the foot of the page).
- Make it your business to create and share blog posts, white papers and videos that will resonate with influencers in your target market.
- The more posts and media resources you publish, the more opportunities you will have for making new sales with group members.
- Demonstrating thought leadership will establish trust and help underline the capability of your organisation.
3. Generate your own LinkedIn groups
- Aim to build a community! Steer your group content towards helping those with specific job roles, influencers and decision makers you wish to target.
- Sharing useful media will attract new members and engagement.
- Once you have established your first successful group you can create further groups to support other vertical markets.
- Monitor to level of engagement. If particular content resonates with your audience, give them more of what they want to build online relationships.
4. Find common ground and interests
Before you connect with others on LinkedIn, Twitter or any other channels for that matter, make sure you do your research.
Some key considerations…
- What are you hoping to achieve through connecting?
- Which organisations are in line with your core strategy and key revenue streams?
- Which individuals appear to have established the most influence and credibility?
- Who belongs to the most popular groups and communities?
- What common ground do you have with your prospects such as workplaces, education and locations?
- What topics are in vogue and what questions are being asked most of each relevant group?
- Look for matches that unrelated to your business. Aim to craft a personal connection.
- Once these points have been addressed you can begin to architect and increase your social selling influence.
5. Review your LinkedIn display pages
- Make sure you have a professional profile photos and imagery (smiling is good)
- Adjust your profile to reflect your expertise as a thought leader vs a someone seeking employment.
- Seek referals and testimonials from your key contacts and biggest fans!
- Invite them to join your community groups!
- Target and share your content with those belonging to particular job functions or groups!
- Relevancy is paramount!
- Make sure your associated company page is clear, concise and on-brand!
- Always use licensed high quality creative imagery for impact and distinction!
6. Listen to your community by monitoring social traffic
- Make sure make provision to be able respond to listen and respond to community related posts and questions in real time.
- Have this enabled on your smartphone or delegate this role.
- Avoid publishing posts and tweets purely of your own thoughts. Join the conversation, and retweet / share the thoughts of other regularly also.
- On Twitter for example… for every single tweet you publish, you should make three or four tweets from other market or contact sources,
- Focus sharing and retweeting links on coaching or trending articles, motivational quotes and industry insight.
- Communicate with prospects and clients, provide feedback trending topics, and with extreme care… share your personality with some less formal posts.
7. Don’t limit your social activity just to selling
- Social selling will help sellers identify new leads and maintain dialogue with existing clients.
- If your client has started to become less responsive with their communication you can retweet them, comment on their LinkedIn posts etc.
- This will ensure you are still top of mind and keeps communication light and open with your key contacts.
- Use monitor social media monitoring tools to track conversations and opinion.
- Use social media to help stay in touch with prospects and keep an eye on opportunities in your target market.
- Social selling does not replace the traditional sales process, it works alongside it!
- Social media empowers sellers to build online relationships and create more sales opportunities!
- Social content should be tailored towards helping those with specific job roles, influencers and decison makers.
- Avoid the hard sell. Focus on building trust and relationships over time.
Remember: If you are not using social media effectively to support your sales model, your competitors certainly will be!
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