12 Jan 2016 / by Maya Roeland / in BLOG
5 Steps to Success with Social Selling
What is Social Selling?
Selling has always been (and always will be) social. Social media hasn’t fundamentally changed the game of sales, but it certainly has amplified it, connected it, and distributed it further than we ever thought possible. Social networks give wider reach and power to even the smallest business, and create an avenue for sales and marketing staff to connect to their client base as individuals, on a personal level.
The term “social selling” encompasses both the research and interaction that happens online during the sales process. Salespeople can use social media to research critical information about companies, trends, and market changes that might produce opportunities. They can learn things about likely buyers that are hard to find elsewhere. What are the interests of those prospects? Their likes, their dislikes? What are they reading and sharing? When you know a few things about someone, you have a more informed, warmer place to begin a conversation. Building trust with your prospects is crucial in moving them towards a buying decision. The closer we can get to people, the more we can educate them and answer their questions, and the more obvious (and easy) it will be to know when it’s time to go offline and close the deal. Social selling is just an expanded way to meet people.
With these 5 tips you will build relationships that last, that change and adapt over time, and that are mutually beneficial.
Stay alert to opportunities. You could make a connection with anyone you meet, interact with, or run into at a grocery store (you get the picture). Many people you meet will be potential connections or advocates; if you connect with authenticity and transparency, on a personal level, you’ll begin to develop a relationship that may pay off later. Don’t sell at this stage, just connect and build a network.
Prospecting is a continual process. You meet people and evaluatate whether there is mutual benefit to building a relationship; if there is, you make a connection. You should add new people to your prospect funnel continually; just as with the sales funnel, some will drop out as time passes. Prioritize vigilantly, and focus on the most promising prospects.
This step is the most important part of social selling. Monitor your social feeds throughout the day as you’re running meetings, building relationships, and closing deals. As companies and prospects in your social funnel are communicating, you will be listening and soaking it all in. This will help you learn what’s important to them.
‘In the sales world, ABC stood for Always Be Closing. Now, ABC means Always Be Connecting, because your connections led to your next hire, your next job, your next lead, and your next close.”Jill Rowley - Social Selling Evangelist
Now that you have the right prospects and you’ve been listening, you can begin to engage. Start commenting and adding value to prospects’ social media posts across various channels. Most companies and professionals don’t get many of these engagements, so they will appreciate the added ‘bump’ your interaction provides, as it reaffirms their own presence on these platforms. (Don’t we all love getting a few extra likes and comments?) Be genuine as you engage and give your honest feedback. Insincere flattery will cost you the potential for honest conversation moving forward. Engagement on social media is a process, and it needs to be done across multiple channels. As your trust with the prospect grows, your authority in your space will become stronger. This is a place to separate yourself from the competition. As you engage, you build credibility.
Start contributing to the relationship by educating people who are looking for answers. You’ve figured out what’s important to them and you’ve started to get noticed. Now you begin demonstrating the value that you can add to the relationship. Start sharing your content and be strategic about it. If you’ve done your due diligence in the listening phase, then it won’t be that hard to post content that you know they will find valuable. But take care to get it right. You need to make sure that you are adding value – and first impressions are everything. Your prospect won’t let you waste their time twice. Deliver the right content, in the right place, and at the right time you’ll get lost in the crowd – or written off as irrelevant. Be smart, be persistent, stay engaged, and always add value.
At the End of the Day…
…social selling is about building relationships. Marketing and salespeople can use social media as a channel to provide value to their prospects. Social is a very good way to make your knowledge, your company, and your helpfulness known, and to demonstrate consistency. This creates a level of trust that can lead to proactive engagement from your prospect. People buy from people, not companies, after all; next to events and other face-to-face methods, social media is the best channel for beginning relationships – and social scales better. The last thing to remember is: Once you’ve gotten into a natural conversation to build a relationship, then you need to figure out when to move the discussion offline – which is where the selling should start from a conversation perspective. Your prospect probably won’t go there with you unless they have genuine interest, and by now you’ve both figured out how real the opportunity is and whether there’s actual value for your buyer.