In the world of sales, social selling is becoming an increasingly important tool for researching, communicating and connecting with new clients. Apparently 78% of salespeople that use social media outsell their peers.
But not everyone feels so comfortable with this approach. While platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are hardly new kids on the block, there’s still a sense of uncertainty among many when it comes to using them within the sales process.
But it’s important to be clear: social selling isn’t a replacement for traditional forms of selling. In actual fact, it’s meant to be used as a way of complementing the tried-and-trusted sales methods that have been around for years, like cold calling, email, and good old fashioned face-to-face meetings.
And while social selling requires some technical know-how on the tools available, total mastery isn’t a prerequisite to turn these tools to your advantage.
Even better to know; the actual methods of selling remain largely the same.
Solid background research, providing valuable insights to clients, and maintaining great customer service are at the heart of what social selling is all about.
Using tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, it’s possible to unearth nuggets of information that can prove invaluable when it comes to making that first contact with a prospective client.
For instance, with a little background research on a business, you can find out the names of the main decision-makers, get an idea of who their main competitors are, and see what customer’s are saying about them – the good and the bad!
If a business has held any recent promotions or special events, there’s also a good chance they’ll have posted something about it on their social media feeds.
Gleaning these kind of vital insights can better equip a salesperson before they approach a client. With a far better understanding of a client’s potential pain points, you can then provide a tailored solution that increases the chances of a sale.
An alternative to the “cold” sell
Getting a face-to-face appointment with a client can be more than a little tricky. Cold calls and cold emails often get ignored. And for good reason. A lot of people simply don’t like being sold to. Or at least, not in the traditional sense.
Social selling offers a new way in.
It provides salespeople with a way of approaching prospects in a non-invasive way, giving them a platform to offer a valuable piece of advice or share an interesting report.
This softer approach to sales is known as content marketing – a strategy that essentially helps to demonstrate expertise, earn trust and pique a prospect’s interest without making any direct attempt to sell to them.
By offering potential clients free advice and information that may be highly beneficial, there’s more chance they’ll be receptive to your attempts at a more direct sales approach further down the line.
Building a Reputation
Once you’re on your prospects radar, it’s likely they’ll be doing their research on you. Social media provides a platform for you to come up smelling of roses. Within the online world, you can build a reputation in your industry, creating a persona of credibility and trustworthiness.
For example, you could use Twitter to curate content from around the internet that potential clients might find interesting. Or you could use LinkedIn to write articles on industry-related news that shows you know your stuff.
To ensure the content you create is being read by the right people, you might want to join specific LinkedIn or Twitter groups where you know your prospective clients are hanging out.
But it’s not just about you.
Alongside posting regular content, you could also join debates and answer questions that crop up in forums and posts. You never know who might be reading your advice. Plus, potential clients may well approach you off the back of a helpful content or insightful tip you offered.
Ultimately, by establishing a strong online presence, you can position yourself as an expert in your industry that demonstrates the kind of credibility clients are going to value.
The offline conversation
So, you’ve warmed up a few potential prospects by offering lots of useful content. And you’ve also gathered yourself quite the social network of social followers. Next step? It’s time to be a little more direct with your sales approach.
This is where social selling can help you connect with prospects in a timely and relevant way.
Twitter is a great place to begin a conversation. For instance, you could initiate direct communication with a prospect off the back of them favouriting an article you shared, or a link you posted.
Equally, if somebody “likes” an article you wrote on LinkedIn, or writes a brief comment, that’d be an indicator that it’s worth reaching out to them.
From there, you can suggest setting up a phone call or a face-to-face meeting to take the conversation one step further.
The point is, selling socially in this way gives you a context from which to begin a conversation. And with your credibility already established, you’ll be in a far stronger position to establish warm connections with prospects than if you’d approached them via traditional means.