Social selling seems to be very fashionable in 2016! Certainly our experience is that it’s an item on many companies’ agendas at the moment and many companies want to talk to us about how we can help them develop a social selling stagey or embed social selling in the core of the business.
“Social selling” is in itself a bit of a poor title for social selling, because social cannot actually “sell” per se. Well, yes you do sometimes see a “buy now” button on Facebook…but these type of sales are almost always low engagement and low value.
When people say “social selling” they are usually talking about using social media (mostly LinkedIn and Twitter) to help develop relationships for larger value sales opportunities. So why is this such a hot topic today? Well, the first thing to address is that the buying process has significantly changed.
How we used to do “social selling”
Many years ago if someone wanted to make a major purchase they would typically call the salesperson, have a conversation, get to understand the product and the company and then make their purchase…or not. The key thing was that the salesperson was very much in the driving seat and able to influence the sale in a fairly major way.
Over the last decade though, we have seen the point at which the salesperson is contacted move further and further long the buying cycle. Think about how you yourself make buying decisions; you research, you ask your friends and you perhaps only make contact with the sales person when you are ready to make the purchase…by the time they are aware of you the decision is made. They have little…or no influence.
They, like you, look at websites, ask friends and colleagues, read reviews and find “influencers” to help give what you think is an unbiased opinion to help you make an empowered and sensible decision. So the average salesperson needs to find a way of moving “upstream” so to speak, to get to the point when they are one of these friends/colleagues/influencers so that they can state their case and make their pitch before the decision is made.
How “social selling” can help us today
The answer is social selling, or perhaps more accurately, “social networking.” For many years (before the internet and social networks) business people used to attend “business breakfasts” where they would, every week or so, meet a group of likeminded business people and “network” (share leads, opportunities, advice and knowledge).
But the fundamental problem with this today is that we live and work in a global economy, so having breakfast with a local accountant, business coach and marketing consultant simply doesn’t cut it any more. The opportunity of having a global reach, for zero cost (other than some time) is very appealing to most sales aware organisations because they know that meeting, chatting and getting to know people is the first step in any sale. The second step is being credible. The third is staying front of mind.
What are the steps to creating a successful “social selling” strategy?
1. Create a great LinkedIn profile.
Fill out everything and make it “buyer centric” rather than “you centric”—nobody cares that you are “a committed self motivated professional”…in fact the mere fact that you call yourself that suggest you’re probably not!
2. Do the same with Twitter.
3. Connect with interesting people.
People you used to work with, people you used to work for, people who you had as clients in the past and, of course everyone you meet from today forwards.
4. Listen BEFORE you talk.
We are all tempted to think that we have something important to say, but the reality is it’s probably just something important to you, not to your connection. So woo them. Listen and answer. “Like” their posts and generally show you’re licensing and agree with them. That will make you very attractive.
5. Measure everything.
Because what you think is good or valuable may not be engaging your audience and this is all about them. Not about you
Find good content and re-share it to your network. You don’t have to write everything yourself.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. For you to create, develop and grow your brand is going to the time. Just remember, this is like a fitness regime—you won’t get thin and healthy overnight.
Oh, and one last thing. If you’re going to engage someone to help you with this you need to make sure that they “eat their own dog food”—if you are asking them to help you with your social presence, theirs should be faultless. They should have thousands of followers, be posting regularly and be sharing (and writing) good content.
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