Monday 4 December 2017

5 Steps to Social Selling

Hello everyone. Today we have a guest article from Patrick Hogan, CEO and Cofounder of Tenfold, from Austin Texas. The original article is available at:

Imagine: You’re going about your full day. Suddenly, someone wants to speak with you on the phone. You’ve set up your whole day so you’d have a couple of hours all to yourself–but someone decides to interrupt you with a call. Being the nice person that you are, you take it. And it’s a sales rep.
Nobody wants to be sold to. That’s the reality salespeople have to contend with.
During the prospecting period, sales professionals take pains to understand targets to make sure leads is warmed up before making a direct pitch.
Real talk: 57%—that’s how far along the average buyer is through the buying process before even engaging with a supplier.

So, aside from your prospecting tactics, you also have to make the utmost effort to make sure you are in your customer’s radar.
Phone calls are still an invaluable tool in sales, but with the advent of the internet permeating all aspects of industry, it’s foolish not to keep up! Phone calls close sales. Phone calls happen when they call you or you’ve warmed them up!
Social selling has been garnering buzz the last few years. It is what it sounds like. Selling on social. But it’s much more than just that.
Social selling is using social networks to research about customers’ buying preferences and behavior, connecting with them, and starting the conversation–and the ultimate goal is to drive revenue.
Social media has become such a personal space for a lot of people, and sales professionals can feel a bit of wariness when it comes to connecting with prospects on these sites. However, keep in mind is that buying is personal. Whether they’re making a personal B2C purchase or a B2B decision, people’s decisions are personal matters.
In this connected world, you snooze you loose. Failure to keep up with the times will cost you bigtime.
Now, you ask: Social selling seems to be straightforward, but how does my team really begin doing it? I suppose it’s not as simple as just adding everyone on social networks and chatting them up.
You’re right. It’s not that simple. Like all processes of sales, it’s a science. But since you’re still dealing with people here, there are a lot of nuances to take into account.

We put together this 5-step approach to jumpstart your team’s social selling, ASAP!

Step 1: Optimize your social media profiles

If you want to engage in online activities, you must work on how you represent your company and yourself online.
A lot of companies and sales professionals fail to do this correctly.  We can’t stress this enough: you have to work on your social media profiles with the same meticulousness you do with your products and pitches.
Think of it like this: Your LinkedIn profile is your main representation on that social network. All prospects, visitors, and decision-makers will see you through your profile.
Even in the B2B space, known for being drab and formal, the new age of social buyers wants personal and authentic brands. While selling by putting your products in your customers’ faces worked before, you have to make it about them now!
Yes. Talk about your customer, not about yourself.
If you’re starting out on social selling, it’s best to concentrate your efforts on one or two channels before setting off to all social media channels. The principle behind it is simple. You want to monitor everything. You want to know how your efforts are paying off. You want to know what works where and what doesn’t.  For B2B sales, LinkedIn is still the leading social network. So much so that LinkedIn itself is now providing in-network solutions for sales people.
According to LinkedIn’s data, social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than traditional sales.  Do you want to miss out on that?
It’s important to note that while you should work on your company’s profile, individual sales professionals’ profiles are equally important.
Like the company page, individual social media profiles need to be customer-centric. How? Talk about benefits.
Use a headline that speaks about what you bring and not what you’re called. Example, if you are a sales executive for Business Solutions Inc., you write, “I help businesses with their problems through solutions”.
Write up your summary like webpage copy. What do you bring to customers? What can your products do for the customers? Apply the same principles when talking about your past work. You need to emphasize that you are a trustworthy and competent person. This adds to your authority.
Remember: No authority, no listeners, no sales.

Step 2: Research your targets.

One of the things that sets social selling apart from social marketing is that in social selling, you are adopting a laser-like approach, whereas social marketing is about reach and casting a wide net.
If you and your team have built a rock-solid buyer persona, identifying the particular people you’re selling to on social networks shouldn’t be hard.
Identify the companies you’re prospecting and get to know the patterns of people you want to connect to. Here’s some of the information you need:
  • Who are the decision makers in the organization
  • Who are the ‘front-end’ people who are connected to the decision makers
  • What are the activities their company engages in
  • How connected are they, how much importance do they put on social media
  • What is their company about
  • What is their product
Having this info in your arsenal will enable you to talk to them on their own terms. This information will be your communication lubricant. Now, that’s something that’s terribly missing from cold-calling.
Watch your target’s patterns without making it known to them. On Twitter, keep track of their tweets: what’s for work and what’s personal. On LinkedIn, you can save their profiles without adding them as a connection.

Step 3: Listen

You are very excited to reach out to your prospects because you just know that they are the right fit. They need you. They will be excited once they hear your pitch. You’re sure of it.
Well, the reality is that people want to talk more than listen. You need to take advantage of this by offering an audience to your targets. Find out what products they use. Get to know what they think of those products.
You might know the benefits from the product brochures–but what’s priceless is the actual use cases from these customers. Once you find out what matters to them when it comes to products, you’ll communicate better and be guided better.

Step 4: Make connections. Initiate conversations.

Social selling is about connecting on an individual level.To initiate these connections, though, you have to be present and visible. Broadcast yourself in such a way that appeals to your prospects.
Be the helpful commenter. Be the non-salesy sales person.
Now, you might think that all of this is sounding manipulative and creepy. Well, it’s not.
You have a product that they need. However, with how intrusive sales practices have gotten in the last few decades, people are now very wary of being sold to.
This is why you have to make connections.
How? It starts with building trust. Staying Alive UK’s Michael Groot said, “People buy from people they know, like, and trust.”
We go back to the first few points. You make a credible, trustworthy profile. You engage with the community. You listen to your prospects and the larger set they belong to.
Social Selling Pro-tip: Share your targets’ content.
When you’ve entered their radar, it’s time to ask for that connection on LinkedIn, or that first DM on Twitter. Here is where you have to make your initial moves toward your sale. Be honest and direct. They will know you are a sales professional. They should know. But if you’ve done your homework and ticked off your checklist, you shouldn’t be seen as intrusive at this point.

Step 5: Be a source of excellent content.

Social selling is similar to content marketing in that you build authority by only sharing posts that are worthwhile to read for your audience. For your very particular readers as a social seller, it is imperative that you share and promote only the best relevant content.
Some social sellers engage in content creation on a massive level–almost like marketers. However, coordinating with your marketing department and filling them in the personas you’ve gathered about your prospects will make sure that there is synergy in the content they create and the stuff that’s available for you to share.

Social selling is the here and now

There is no escaping social selling. Sales experts are recognizing this pressing matter, going as far as some saying that cold calling is dead. We will discuss that in a coming post. Do you think social selling is ethical? Should all sales professionals engage in social selling?
In coming posts, we will talk more about this topic, including how to measure your social selling efforts, how to incorporate other sales marketing techniques under the banner of social selling, and other cutting-edge approaches to the ever-changing world of sales.
Have you started selling on social?


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