Sales has always been and will always be about relationships. So why all the hype about social selling? What has changed is how sales relationships are cultivated. 50 years ago, they may have come by knocking on doors. Today, one efficient and effective way to build a relationship is through social media.
Every day, buyers are perusing the Internet and social networks to research products they have an interest in purchasing. This goes for B2B and B2C brands. As a salesperson, it’s your responsibility to be where your prospects are.
It's important for salespeople to increase visibility via social media in an effort to become a resource for potential buyers. Prospects today have access to a virtually unlimited amount of information and aren't as susceptible to marketing messages as they used to be. Now, reviews, recommendations and sentiment are more important than ever before.
A study conducted by Jim Keenan of A Sales Guy Consulting showed that 78 percent of salespeople using social media outsell their peers. Top sales reps are actively using social tools for three reasons:
- Reach – Social media provides a platform where sales reps are able to potentially reach millions of people regardless of location.
- One-to-one relationships – There may be other ways to reach millions of people, television advertising for instance, but social media allows sales reps to make a one-on-one connection with each individual prospect that’s hard to find anywhere else.
- Customer insights – Unlike any other resource, customer information found on social media is delivered straight from the customer. Where else can you locate accurate, up to date information about a customer’s personal and professional interests? Where else do customers willingly offer up their most pressing pain points?
According to CSO Insights, 42% of sales reps feel they do not have the right information before making a call. The most effective way to gain insight into your prospects is to integrate multiple sources of intelligence. That means being present on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or wherever your potential customer are.
Smart sales reps use the information found online to their advantage in order to make a lasting connection with each prospect, making “listening” on social media one of the most powerful tactics in a social selling strategy.
Successful salespeople that introduce social tools into their arsenal utilize it for networking, answering customer inquiries and providing value for prospective customers who are actively seeking more information about their product, service or industry.
It starts by spending some time with the tools you plan to use, getting involved in conversations and creating a persona that’s likeable and valuable within the community. Show your network that you’re an amiable, trustworthy resource by answering their questions, commenting on their posts and educating them about your industry.
In order to grow your influence using social tools, you’ll need to increase engagement within the online community. This can be done by:
- Focusing on benefits– how can you help to solve the customer’s problems?
- Eliciting emotion – make an emotional connection with every prospect. What are their needs/desires/fears?
- Increasing touch points – consider frequency, stay in front of your contact on a regular basis. Send them new information as it becomes available, be around to answer any of their questions, make your presence known.
- Creating anticipation – provide your audience with a sneak peek of what’s to come to maintain intrigue.
- Encouraging interaction – always provide a call-to-action so that your audience knows what to do next. Should they comment, subscribe, visit, click, inquire, stay tuned? Make it clear.
Used appropriately, social media can be extremely effective at building relationships, thereby strengthening the sales pipeline and increasing ROI.