The rise of social media in the past 10 years has changed the way we think as a society not just casually, but professionally.
Many companies have jumped aboard the social media train as a way to promote their business and engage with their customer base on a much deeper level.
Social media has closed the once more pronounced gap between business and customer; now whenever patrons have a concern or an issue, they simply write on the wall of the company’s Facebook page or leave a message in the comments section of a YouTube video, or write a Yelp review. That’s also not to say that people fight fair, some complain just for the sake of complaining and it’s up to the companies to determine which messages constitute legitimate concerns.
That all being said, what is social selling? Social selling involves using whichever social networks in which your company participates to locate prospects and nurture existing relationships with clients in a more effective, albeit, subtle way. It’s more of an understated lead generation tool that eliminates antiquated ways of approaching new prospects such as cold calling.
If you own a start-up, knowing which platforms are the most conducive for your company is half the battle. For example, does it really benefit your company to be on Snapchat? How about Instagram? Do your products satisfy the engaging visual content required for those sites? Would you be better suited for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest? It’s time to figure out which social networks to use and how to initiate and nurture relationships with customers via social selling.
Once you’ve determined which platforms you will use for engagement, consider how to implement them into your sales funnel by identifying, connecting with, and nurturing prospects with your products and services. An authentic method for achieving social selling involves a SMART plan, (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based). A SMART plan is a strategy that will help your company focus on building and maintaining long-term relationships.
Specific: find the most conducive social networks for your business.
Measurable: keep track of your metrics that gauge engagement and conversions on your site.
Attainable: Make your current customers a priority and strengthen your relationships with those accounts first. Then move on to your top prospects.
Relevant: Know what’s trending and use it to your advantage to increase web traffic.
Time-Based: Make sure you establish a timeframe needed to meet your goals; if you project you’ll have a certain amount of followers by a certain time, devote the time you need every day to hit that target.
12 ways to successfully carry out social selling:
1. Create accounts on your preferred platforms that give you access to current and potential customers. This will help you build a robust network on a variety of social media channels that will enable you to connect with new sales prospects through existing mutual contacts, creating familiarity and rapport.
2. Flesh out your business’ brand by building a solid profile that divulges all of the necessary information about your company. Zero in on the right prospects, provide them with relevant content in the way of videos or blogs to create means of engagement, and from there, start developing trusted relationships.
3. Do your research. Researching on social media is easy, and fun at times. Some people dub researching on social media as “stalking.” That’s not what you’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with diving into the depths of a potential prospect’s Facebook account to get an impression of who they are. This will also give you an idea of what people are thinking just by looking at their many status updates. If they start complaining about how another company in your industry failed them, this is your chance to jump in and bring your organization to their attention and tell them how you can help them.
4. Produce and optimize the right content. If your company publishes blogs about your products, be sure to post them to all of your social channels, mainly Facebook and LinkedIn, which are the most conducive for sharing article links. If you recently produced a high-quality video about your company’s newest location, share it on your YouTube channel and encourage people to subscribe after they’ve watched it. The goal is to get this content shared to accumulate more followers on all platforms.
5. Look at your prospects’ content. This is your chance to gauge your potential leads’ needs, wants and desires. What are they into? What are their passions? Read their posts and articles they’ve shared to find out. When reaching out to them, refer to what you found to start a conversation.
6. As always, engage in their content: like, comment and share what they’ve posted with your network and your followers. They’ll appreciate the extra attention, traffic and time on their site.
7. Factor in some time either daily or a couple of days per week to learn from and interact with your potential leads’ channels. If you set reminders or put it on your calendar, working this into your daily or weekly routine will happen organically.
8. Share content, even when it’s not yours. If your company doesn’t generate content, (maybe you own a car parts business and it’s not required that you write articles about your products), still consider sharing content that’s related to what you sell. Posting other people’s content still gets you noticed and keeps you on your followers’ feeds. Make sure the content adds value to your network and customers’ interests. Post a small caption with the content you’re sharing in an effort to add your voice to the article or video.
9. Find a company that’s further along in its social selling endeavors. Learn how these channels are revolutionizing this new form of lead generation so you can develop your own strategy.
10. Be present on LinkedIn. Any prestigious business should consider having a LinkedIn page, it’s practically required if you want to appear credible. Once you’ve created a LinkedIn account, if you didn’t have one already, upgrade your membership for greater access to its Sales Navigator. Sales Navigator includes stronger search capabilities, improved visibility into extended networks, and personalized algorithms that help you find the correct prospects.
11. Discover what works and what doesn’t. Notice where you’re starting to see some traction and continue on that path as your prospects start to transition into clients/customers. If you’re not experiencing much luck with social selling, step back and figure out what’s not working. Do you need to expand your network? Should you post more content? Does your content appear too spammy? Do you need to nurture some individual correspondence?
12. Take your time. Cultivating your social networks is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. It can take months to accumulate a satisfactory amount of followers and potential leads before you can even begin to think about contacting them. Never get discouraged, the time you put into social media and social selling is directly proportional to the effort you put into it. Once you have a solid foundation and routine that’s reliable, you’ll start seeing more activity and your job will get easier over time.