Like a lot of things in business, the way we sell has changed. Traditional sales, where your sales force was responsible for cold calls and ‘drop-ins’ on prospective customers, isn’t as effective as it used to be. Consumers are doing a lot more research about the products and services they are interested in on their own. In fact, a full 60% of the research a consumer does on a product or service takes place before interacting with a salesperson.
The birth of what we call ‘social sales’ means that relationships are more important than ever. And building a relationship with a prospect starts long before they are interested in your product or service.
Social Selling simply means that sales stem from relationships established on social media. It involves using social media to understand what your prospects want and how to give it to them. You do that in three steps:
- Connect with consumers in the social sphere
- Engage and educate them
- Turn them into Buyers
In traditional sales, the job of the salesperson was to initiate conversations with prospects. And those conversations had an agenda. In social sales, you locate consumers talking about a problem your product or service could solve, and you join the conversation, drawing people into your business.
These days, 37% of the evaluations consumers make about a company stem from conversations on social media. There are probably conversations happening online about your business or offering right now. You can jump in and contribute, or stick with your old methods and hope that your competitors aren’t joining the conversation either.
So, as salespeople (and aren’t we ALL salespeople for our own businesses?), how can we make sure that when consumers research a problem – they find our company as a solution? How can we ensure that we know about those conversations, and are welcome to join them?
By incorporating social media into your prospecting and conversion systems.
Social Sales has many advantages over traditional methods:
It deepens relationships with existing customers and encourages loyalty. Facebook will tell you when it’s time to wish your customer a happy birthday, or show you their latest vacation photos. Their LinkedIn profile will indicate when they’ve been promoted. Following them on Twitter gives you a window into their everyday thoughts. Connecting with customers on social media means they have let you into their lives.
It helps identify prospects that you might not have thought of.
Social Media can connect you with people who are interested in your product. You are able to have real-time conversations with people who are actively researching your company and offerings. While every salesperson has target groups to go after, this gives you access to individuals who have ‘opted-in’ by connecting with you online.
It builds your credibility.
If you ask for a meeting with someone, chances are, they will google you. When a prospect checks you out online, a good social presence can do a lot to establish your expertise. Perhaps you have a LinkedIn connection in common, and they can ask that person about you. Or maybe they just want to do a little more research into your background. When set up properly, your social channels can prove that you know your stuff.
It makes cold calls easier.
Imagine being able to look up a prospect online and check out his LinkedIn profile or Facebook page before picking up the phone. You can determine some common ground: a hobby, a shared friend, a recent life event you can ask about. Having something to talk about makes that call a lot warmer.
It gives you a tool to showcase your company.
When a prospect is conducting research on your product or service, finding a strong social presence for your business establishes you as a ‘real’ company. An active Facebook fan page, lots of great reviews on Yelp, an attractive and content-rich company profile on LinkedIn – these are all selling tools!
It delivers warmer leads.
Did you know social media shortens the sales cycle by 40%? Think about it. When someone gets to know your company on Facebook or LinkedIn, and then clicks through to your website, they are doing it for a reason. They want to take the next step. Maybe they want to set up a phone call, or send you an email, or just get more information. But whatever the reason, they want more. As they say in sales… ‘you’ve got a live one!’
Social Media touches every system in your business these days, and Sales is one of the most effected. If you can incorporate social sales into your routine, you’ll be ahead of the pack. But remember – social media is about cultivating relationships. Not leads. So, to make it work for you, take off your ‘sales’ hat and focus on listening and connecting to those you could help.
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