We say it constantly, but it can never be said enough: digital marketing is an ever-evolving landscape and in order to be successful you have to be willing to not only accept new technologies and methods, but embrace them. Enter stage right: social selling!
Obviously since social media has existed people have used it in some way, shape, or form to sell, but as social channels have evolved so has the methodology of using them to sell.
Let’s face it: regardless of whether or not your role is specifically in the sales realm, obtaining new business (and keeping it) is an imperative part of good business practice. And luckily for everyone, social networks are making connecting with valuable assets a lot easier!
It’s a little self explanatory. Social selling is using social networks to find, connect with, engage, and create conversations with those you have the hope of prospecting in a sales perspective. It’s a way to make a meaningful introduction and relationship with the intention of evolving it into a new business opportunity — without being pushy or (hopefully) appearing to have too much of an ulterior motive.
The thing is, though… You do. So how do you at least attempt to do it effectively?
Depending on your specialty, it’s important to identify which networks you’re going to focus on, and then identify who exactly to pinpoint. You can narrow things down by location and industry, which brings things closer to home and puts the ball in your court, especially if you’ve had previous experience in certain sectors. Seeing as over 76% of buyers feel ready to have a social media conversation, using social platforms to identify them and spark that initial conversation has never been easier.
Facebook and Twitter are popular and great ways to stay up-to-date both personally and professionally, but LinkedIn far and away is probably the most helpful platform to reach your social selling goals, especially for B2B. A study conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that a stunning 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions, LinkedIn being one of them.
Like making small talk at a party, social selling works best when you pick the lowest hanging fruit. Have a mutual connection? Mention them and be inquisitive about how they met them! See something in their profile that strikes you as something you also like to do or are generally impressed by? Tell them so! Being asked questions about yourself and answering gives you a neurological buzz, and acting interested in things that are meaningful to that person will help open the door to not only get to know them, but also close some sort of deal, even if it isn’t right away.
And speaking of things not necessarily happening right away… The whole point of social selling is to actually build a relationship that will organically result in a win, but that doesn’t just happen overnight. There’s a reason why more than 90% of C-level execs say they “never” respond to cold calling: because it’s cold! Build a rapport, find things in common, really pick each other’s brains and find out what’s lacking and figure out how you can help in that area. It may take weeks or months, but it will build trust and make it more meaningful for both parties.
In my previous blog, I mentioned a conference I attended, and in one of the seminars a speaker from Nationwide Insurance talked about a colleague who nurtured a connection into a very meaningful sale due to her genuine interest and then perseverance. What started off as a mutual love for yoga with a prospect and advice on local studios turned into a huge win professionally.
Since this is a process that takes time, keep in mind that keeping your own profile current and interesting is imperative. Of course having a compelling intro and detailed professional history is important, but adding some personal information that can catch the eye and be a conversation starter is also key.
You also want to make sure that you’re consistently sharing and commenting on content that is relevant to you in some way. Showing that you’re both a thought leader and someone who uses the platform to engage with others will prove to others that your connection is meaningful and not just another generic “send” from the suggested page.
Obviously it’s ideal to walk away from every social connection with some ROI, but ultimately it’s important to look at social selling as a way to expand your social and professional circle. You never know what can change for someone professionally in the future, so making a genuine connection now could pay off later. Plus, since knowledge is power, just sharing strategies and ideas is powerful in itself. In a world where change is the only constant, making meaningful connections professionally and personally will do nothing but help you in the long run.
If you’d like to chat more about social selling, please contact me: email@example.com.