There’s good news and … there’s bad news. The good news is that, with social selling, your market just got a lot bigger. The bad news is … your market just got a lot bigger and you will need to be more diligent at managing it. But, there’s also some really good news!
If you play your cards right, you can probably leave most of your competitors in the dust. This is even more likely in the world of B2B selling which, in my experience, still lags far behind B2C in terms of social adoption. In a steak and beans sales contest … you’ll be the only one who will be needing a knife.
If you are unsure that this opportunity even exists, that’s fair. I would suggest that you do a little research on your own. You should already know who your top competitors are. What are they doing in terms of conventional, and social, marketing and sales? Where do they stand out and how do they stand out?
Let’s dig a little deeper and closer to home. What are their salespeople, the ones who are competing directly with you in your market, doing on their own? If you don’t know them personally, you can start with a simple LinkedIn search by company and then drill down to find their reps.
Are they even there? How about their activity? If there is little to none, they are likely not even attempting to build their brand, at least on LinkedIn. Next extend your search to other social networks and conduct that same research to see what they are up to. If you find them, and they do anything well, you can emulate those activities.
Steps toward ownership
Be the master – IMHO, it is better to be the master of one area than to be perceived as being a jack of all trades. I learned this the hard way. As I have a fairly diverse interests, I used to talk about a lot of different business-related topics on social media.
A few years back I took an online assessment that graded my social sharing (branding) based on my self-identified specialty (selling). In the five or six different areas, I got something like two “D’s” and the rest were “F’s”. Ouch! But, it was a thankful wake-up call and I took note and adjusted accordingly.
Define your target
As your social market, regardless of any geographical boundaries, will be substantially larger, you will need a better plan. This starts with developing a well-crafted Target Buyer Persona that will identify those who have the highest likelihood of either buying from you or referring you to those who will.
Not having a clear target is social suicide and it will be a death by 1,000 cuts. Once again, it comes back to the sheer numbers of folks who are using social media. There will simply be no way to effectively manage your market unless you can first filter it. The easiest way to do this is by only connecting to the right people.
Where are your customers? There are many well-recognized social networks. Attempting to be effective on all of them will be extremely time-consuming and probably a waste of same. Rather, you need to be active only on those networks where your customers are active and you will need to determine where that is.
Find your niche
While your niche market will be a part of your target buyer persona, it is much more than that. Being able to focus on one industry, for example, will allow you to develop a much greater understanding of the needs of that industry in particular. As a result …
- Your learning will be transferable to multiple prospective companies within that industry and your knowledge base will continue to grow with each call.
- You will build case studies that can be used with other prospects within that niche.
- Many of the players in any industry know each other and you can leverage that to your advantage.
Be the go-to resource
In order to own your market you will need to be perceived as being the authority. Remember that your prospective customers are using the internet to do research and that they are seeking recommendations from their social connections. You need to be known, found, and you need to engage!
Attract the right people
Social selling is largely based on attraction and this can facilitate the first touch-points toward real-life relationships. You will be building your brand and establishing your expertise with every share and engagement and … Activity = Visibility.
Educate rather than sell
Educating your market is critical to establishing your authority. Share content related to your offerings that will be of value to your target market. You should be writing on this subject matter as well and, if you are B2B, I would suggest that this should be done on LinkedIn via their publishing platform.
Do what your competitors won’t – Your research should have told you what your competitors are doing socially. Interviews with their customers and prospective customers … “What do you like about dealing with Fred?” or “What would you like to see Fred do more of for you?” should uncover what they are doing in the field.
Start by showing your existing customers how they can do more with those products and services they’ve purchased from you.
How about introducing them to opportunities and people that you encounter during your social networking activities? I can tell you this … helping them to sell more of their stuff will trump a box of cheap donuts … any day!
However, in the long run, you will probably be light years ahead of your competitors if you can just …
- Be polite
- Be responsive, urgent, and proactive
- Listen and be a good listener
- Place their needs above your own
- Not be a sales weasel
- Exceed their expectations
- Act like you work there
- Build relationships and repeat-business
How do I know this to be true? I may be a salesperson but, I am also a customer and I can tell you that 90% of the salespeople who I deal with will consistently fail on one or more (many all) of the above desired traits. Yes, it’s that bad. Do these simple basic things and now add social? Watch out!
My favorite charity
I think that it’s great that the company is building brand. I can leverage that to my advantage but, their brand don’t pay my bills. It’s also great for the company to generate leads for the company but, even prior to social selling, I always preferred to create my own opportunities.
Their revenues don’t pay my bills. My sales pay my bills so you will have to forgive me if I’m a little self-centered in my approach. I want to generate qualified leads for my favorite charity … me.
I want to build my own brand. In so doing, my company will also thrive as a result of my efforts. #winwin