There’s never been a better time to be in sales. In this era of social media, social selling is the evolution of sales. Buyers are always connected and constantly on social media, learning more about your company and competitors. Social media has changed the buying process and as a result, the selling process.
What Exactly Is Social Selling?
Did you know that 89% of purchases (75% for B2B) start with an online search? Today’s socially savvy buyers don’t even contact you (or your competitors) until 57% of the purchase process is complete. Social media selling provides you with a never before seen opportunity to influence buyers to approach your business.
So what exactly is social selling? It’s the practice of incorporating social networks in your sales process, from prospecting to positioning to presenting. Social selling doesn’t replace the sales fundamentals, but instead evolves them. Today, social media provides sales professionals with the opportunity to engage with future customers directly without even picking up the phone. No more buying lists. No more cold calls. No more gatekeepers.
If We Post It They Will Come (Not!)
With LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, Quora, Instagram and Snapchat at our disposal, you might think social media is the easy answer to your selling challenges. Just post a few photo quotes and prospects will send you cheques. If we post it, they will come (Not!).
The problem with social media, is that with so many platforms, you might be wondering, “What is the most effective platform to use when selling in social media?”, “Can we use social media to sell services to businesses that have multiple stakeholders?”, “How exactly do I gain a following on social media and generate leads?”
Success in social selling (and traditional selling) requires a process, not luck. You may not realize that there are many things you don’t know, so your greatest challenge will be increasing your awareness. Before you know it, you’ll be using social media to generate leads, stand apart from competitors and close more deals faster and easier than ever before.
10 Steps of Social Selling – The Evolution of Sales™
In my work with business owners and sales professionals throughout Asia-Pacific, I’ve noticed some best practices for social selling. In fact, 64% of sales teams who use social selling reach sales quotas (and 15% more contract renewals) versus 49% who do not adopt it. By incorporating these 10 important steps, you can experience the benefits too:
Prospect on Social Media
When it comes to prospecting on Social Media, you need to start by finding out where your target audience ‘hangout’ online, then join the conversation.
Find Your Audience
There are so many social media platforms out there—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, SlideShare, Instagram—it’s enough to make your head spin. Rather than spreading yourself thin by trying to be everywhere at once, it would be more effective to take a targeted approach. Find out which platforms are frequented by the majority of your customers, and establish a strong presence on these particular platforms.
Each social network has its own personality and preferred mode of communication, and your potential clients are likely to flock to the platforms that are best suited to their tastes and interests. It’s crucial to identify your prospective audience’s preferred platforms and the most effective language to use on each one. Otherwise you may invest a lot of time and effort into launching a social media initiative on a particular platform, only to discover that your target customer isn’t active on this platform.
When it comes to B2B sales, LinkedIn is king. For B2C sales, you’ll probably have more success on Instagram and Facebook.
Success in social selling requires discovering the top three ways of consistently reaching large numbers of your target customers online.
Have Conversations with Prospects
Many people use social media solely as a broadcasting tool.They’ve forgotten the fundamentals of sales. You should be listening 80% of the time, asking questions 10% of the time, and promoting your products and services only 10% of the time. Social media is a noisy place, so instead of competing to see who can shout the loudest, try listening to your customer base.
Start by following nine of your top prospects and clients. Pay attention to what they’re sharing. Interact with their posts or tweets. One of your clients just got promoted or moved to another company. Another client has launched a new product. Two of your clients have ventured into new markets. All of this information is incredibly useful and can add tremendous value to how you engage with them in the future. Sending a reply or direct message to a client to congratulate them on their latest news is way of letting them know that you’re listening to them. By showing them that you’re paying attention to their progress, you’re strengthening your relationship with them, which may lead to future business.
Generate Sales Leads
While many companies are struggling to generate qualified leads, more and more are starting to understand how to achieve this through social selling. One way is to encourage buyers to share their contact information and start a relationship with sales reps. Capturing e-mail addresses from prospects helps to fill your sales funnel. You can do this through an opt-in page by offering and delivering something of value in exchange for their contact details.
Another great tool to sell on social media is LinkedIn. Using LinkedIn you can do a detailed search to find your prospects and message them either by connecting with them or paying for ‘InMail’ messages.
Get Past Gatekeepers
It’s never been easier to get past the gatekeepers than it is now, in the era of social media. A quick Google or social media search can tell you which member of a company is the decision maker. This allows you to bypass the receptionists and assistants—the gatekeepers. How do you achieve that? Before you approach a company or spend any time developing the relationship, the first step is always to qualify the prospect.
Position Yourself on Social Media
Demonstrate Your Expertise
In order to position yourself as the ideal solution provider, you’ve got to stand apart from the competition by proving your expertise.
The way to achieve this is to establish yourself as an authority, as a thought leader, and as an expert in your industry.
Engage your audience by posting updates that are interesting and relevant. Share with them all the knowledge you have. If you show great value and you share great content, people will see that you’re well informed. When they’re ready to make a buying decision, they’ll want to talk to you.
Differentiate From Competitors
Once you’ve demonstrated your expertise, you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors. This means setting yourself apart from the competition by communicating your own unique message. What makes you different? What are the essential elements that make you different? Customers have so many choices available to them, but this actually complicates the buying process and lengthens the sales cycle. By differentiating from your competitors, you’re making it easier for customers to come to a decision, which shortens the buying cycle
Assess Prospects’ Needs
If you’re asking all the right questions on social media, you’ll get great answers. Even better, your followers will see that you’re asking those questions. When they come up against an obstacle, they’ll reach out to you for a solution, because you’ve shown them that you’re interested in learning about your customer base, and you’re in touch with their needs. Best of all, you’re already in conversation with them.
Present Your Solution
Deliver Sales Presentations – Share solutions through online presentations.
When it comes to selling using social media, you could sell through pre-recorded videos, sales pages, live webinars or virtual face-to-face meetings using video conferencing software. With the vast selection of tools available, you need to find what works for your product or service and your customers.
No matter what tool you use, plan your benefits in advance and know how to overcome common objections.
Ask for the Sale
Ultimately, this guide is not about how to acquire more friends and followers; it’s about how to use social media to sell. Asking for the sale is its focal point. It’s time to convert your conversations with prospects to closed deals.
When you’re trying to close, you have to ask outright for the sale. It’s not enough to tell people that you’re doing this or that. You have to say, ‘Join me’ or ‘Click here to be a part of it.’ You have to send out e-mails and post plenty of updates on social media.
Ask for the sale using a combination of social media platforms and e-mail. As much as I believe in the power of social selling, I believe in taking these conversations away from social media. Connect with the prospect on social media, then engage on a deeper level with them elsewhere.
Get Spin-off Business
Once you’ve closed the sale and delivered the product, many people think it’s all over. They move to the next project, and they never look back. This is a fatal error. The end of the project is the beginning of the relationship. At this point, it’s time to adjust your goal, and to focus on sustainable selling.
Use introductions and recommendations to get more business. Demonstrate how you can support your customers in solving their problems. Then establish a partnering relationship.
When I’m speaking with business owners and sales professionals, I remind them that social selling doesn’t replace the sales fundamentals, but instead evolves them. If you’re not evolving your selling, prospects will be contacting your competitors instead. Is your sales organisation adapting its selling process to keep up with the evolution of sales? Challenge yourself by trying something in this article and share your results with me on social media. Start by answering this question, Where are your target customers congregating on social media?
Social Selling Book
This guide on how to sell on social media was created using excerpts from my book Social Selling – 10 Essential Strategies to Prospect, Position and Present on Social Media
- Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.
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