For those of us who have been around for a while (some of us longer than others), the mere thought of upending our proven routines can be … unsettling. Speaking for myself, I abhor change. I thrive in a system of perfect order, rules, and predictability. Hence, when approached with the prospect of social media, my first, second, and third reaction was to reject it.
Finally becoming open to the possibility that this phenomenon might be an effective business tool (nobody talked about social selling back then), I jumped in with both feet and … it seemed that none of it would ever make any sense. However, even when I fell two steps back, I was still taking steps in the right direction, and I was learning from my mistakes. Growth and stretching.
The challenge for most sales professionals that I speak with is that the whole idea of social selling is both confusing as well as … unnecessary “Why should I even bother when I am doing fine right now?” There is also a widely held perception that the adoption of social selling requires abandoning our proven methodologies. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Social Selling augments, rather than replaces, traditional selling strategies and techniques. If we think of selling as a tapestry that is already made up of many colors and textures, then social selling Is but one more layer added to this cloth. In order for it to appear to be a part of this fabric, to complement it, it must be expertly weaved into the existing work and should not be, or be perceived to be a forced effort.
Most stages of the sales process are perfectly designed for social selling activities. While I can’t go into great detail in this article, please be sure to follow the article links to learn more (start with this one)! My goal is to expose you to the possibilities. You might introduce one new activity for each step of the process and then master and assess the results prior to adding additional elements.
My overall strategy is to find and to be found. Having the ability to attract others directly to me is perhaps the most wonderful thing about social selling.
Social presence – In order to be effective in social selling, it is a good idea that you have a social presence on whatever platform(s) you will be active on. This means that you create profiles that display both you and your expertise/brand. There are a number of social networks to choose from but, the only one(s) that you need to be aware of are those where your customers are found.
Customer outreach – Client education is a big part of social selling, and these initiatives can be classified as being either direct or indirect. A direct outreach might be to email them an article that they would find to be of interest along with a personal note. This same article shared on social platforms would be an indirect activity as would blogging. Email marketing can be an effective direct/indirect hybrid.
Records management – You simply have to have a CRM and a Social CRM would be even better. Since they start at FREE, not having the money to invest is no longer a valid excuse. Simply throwing things into folders is no longer effective. O.K. … that has never been effective. There are a lot of moving parts in (social) selling and you being efficiently organized is critically important!
Building relationships – It is much more effective for you to discover and nurture relationships prior to any selling opportunity than it is to try to do so during a selling opportunity. People who have built these relationships beforehand are more likely to be viewed as trusted advisors rather than vendors, and T.A.’s are rarely asked to compete for new business.The perception is that … they have already earned it.
During the sale, and this includes your selling preparation and approach, there are a number of excellent opportunities to weave a little social into your process!
Research – The one valid reason for only bringing a knife to a gunfight is that you have no gun and no time to get one. The only valid reason for not researching a customer before you reach out is … there is no valid reason. In my day, I had the library and stacks of old newspapers hanging on racks. You have the internet and your client’s social profiles and activities which are quite often very easy to find and to review.
The approach – Having a plan on how you will approach prospects is extremely important, and you have numerous options with social selling including …
- Email – How will you compose yours to ensure that it is opened and that it will generate interest and action?
- Taps and touches – Likes, replies, retweets, shares, comments, etc. on the social networks.
- Video conferencing – Skype, Hangouts, etc.
- Traditional – Phone, drop-bys, direct mail.
Prospecting – Ideally, your goal is to turn cold calls into warm calls and customer research, and your approach are important elements in this process. Now, let’s add the ability to target the right prospects. These would be the people who are most likely to need/invest in your product or service, and their profiles can be identified through the creation of a Target Buyer Persona.
Qualifying – This includes discovering decision makers and influencers as well as identifying their needs and their ability to invest. Hello! A simple search on LinkedIn by company name and, depending on what premium filters you may or may not have (title. location, seniority, etc.), will reveal much! Apps like Owler and xiQ can also assist you with these determinations.
Design and present – Multimedia has always been important to presentations and now these same offerings can be delivered to your customers electronically, when necessary. With today’s modern sales enablement tools, you can …
- Embed videos and slides in emails.
- Track email opens including who, what, and when.
- See which links they may have clicked.
- Direct links to interactive papers and you can even monitor where the customer is spending their time in the review process.
- Be alerted when they visit your website and what pages they are looking at.
- Add effective calls-to-action including electronic contract acceptance.
Overcoming objections – Objections can come in many forms. Often they are actually either requests for information, or they are based on incorrect data or assumptions. If not already at your fingertips, your marketing people likely have a number of pieces of sales collateral (proof) that will assist you in overcoming these types of objections. Don’t have a marketing department or collateral? Get busy.
Closing – I believe that the close is the natural culmination to the sale. This is contingent on you having completed all of the previous selling stages properly. Still, sometimes you need to hang in there and keep on plugging. Instead of repeatedly calling the customer and asking if they are ready to buy, make consistent taps and touches with new materials that they may find useful for arriving at their decision.
Salespeople have an unfortunate, yet well-earned, reputation for abandoning customers after the sale. It’s that hunter vs. farmer mentality. Whereas the hunter eats extremely well immediately following the kill, the farmer does so every day. I would suggest that you need to be both. I love steak but, I also dig my veggies.
Follow-up and keeping in touch – Tracking when and what you need to do is one of the most basic functions of any CRM/SCRM (tasks and reminders). Recurring reminders are even better. Consistent engagement is a strategy for success. Doing so means that you will be getting …
Repeat business – Your largest source of untapped revenue is likely from your existing customers. If it is 10x more expensive to find a new customer than it is to keep an existing one … what can I say? Make the touches, ensure that they are personalized and progressive, treat them like family, and you will be getting that repeat business along with …
Referrals – Referrals are earned. When you combine this fact with the Bob Burg adage … Givers Get! … you now have your formula. Promote your customers on social media and, instead of introducing them to a box of pastries, why not do a digital introduction to people who will potentially buy their stuff. Their increased revenues will allow them to buy their own donuts.
These are only but a few ideas to get started. Google can be your best friend for finding more articles which will address just about any question, or advice, that you may seek. Be sure to be patient and to allow yourself ample time to realize success. Your buyers are already changing, and they are now driving the bus. #Incentive for you to get on board!