So we know that #socialselling is a real thing, and that more and more sales professionals are making #content a vital part of their sales strategy. With the increasing importance of content marketing in sales (once considered the Marketing department’s domain alone), those who neglect to implement their own social selling process will find themselves closing fewer deals than their more social-minded competitors (we mean colleagues!). If 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers, and social sellers are 6 times more likely to exceed their quota (asalesguyconsulting.com), we can really only infer one thing - to successfully close those deals, get on board NOW.
To get you on your social selling way, below is a general social selling process that can (and should) be tweaked according to the type of person you are and the industry you are in. The most important thing to remember though - this is a nurturing strategy. In other words, it is an on-going investment and it can take time before you see results.
Identify who your audience is
Social selling is a technique/process that is time-consuming and based on looking at your leads as people first, and then potential customers. Identify who your target audience is by understanding who will benefit from the product or service you are selling. Build profiles of your potential customers so that you understand their needs and interests (related to and unrelated to, the product).
Sounds easy right? I mean come on, what Sales Person can’t tell you who their customers are and what their biggest concern is? Shockingly, Hubspot shares that 40% of salespeople lack the necessary skills to have customer empathy and understand prospect pain. If the majority of people are making purchasing decisions to solve a problem and only a much smaller percentage in order to gain something, this lack of audience understanding is severely limiting. Simply offering a price reduction or free upgrade won’t cut it.
Find the people who match the criteria in your audience definition
Now that you have a good idea of who you want to sell to, and what need you are answering, you have to spend the time finding these people. Remember, on social media, people have volunteered information about themselves. It is all out there and you simply need to take advantage of it. Caveat - it does take time to sift through all the information so you really do want to narrow your search to the right audience. Don’t waste your time on the wrong people. Use technologies like social media monitoring software to make sure you are looking in the right place.
Warning - if you skip step one, or you don’t do your profile building correctly, you can end up social-approaching everyone or the wrong people. Select the right people from the beginning and network with them. If a person isn’t the right fit for your product, no amount of social selling is going to transform them.
Get in their line of sight
The social selling approach relies on the trust and belief a lead has in you. Are you who you say you are, and are you adding value. Second to that is the company you represent. Using your own personal (and please, professional) social media channels, find your people and very softly connect with them.
Recommended first approaches are:
Favour one of their tweets
Retweet something they put out
Comment on a blog post
The goal is to get in front of them as a follower (note we said follower, not stalker or broadcaster of products. Fine line, learn how to walk it!).
Contextualise your professional approach
You have listened, you have identified your audience and you have tried to get in their line of sight. Now you start reaching out to them more directly through LinkedIn and Twitter (yes, Twitter can also be used in a professional way). Based on what you have picked up on their social media platforms, suggest something they may be interested in reading – an article or a blog or even a white paper. Better yet, base your approach on the tweet you already favoured, or their blog post that you commented on in step 3.
Why is this important? Basically, it contextualizes your approach. It is still not a direct sales tool and the content you are sharing should still be general (not related to your product). You are now in a position to stay in front of them while maintaining an element of professionalism. You are adding value to a conversation. Use terminology that drives engagement like “I thought of you when I read this” or “Thought you may find this useful”. In other words, speak to them, be relevant for them and invite a response. And remember, although you are connecting on social media, they are not your friend and you MUST avoid mentioning anything personal, sensitive or inappropriate. Social selling is only effective if it is done right.
Go in for the sell
Yes! Now you can go in for the sale. How do you do this? (not that you experienced sellers need any help in this arena!).
Search your content database (all those white papers, pricing pages, feature descriptions and competitor comparison tables your Marketing department have worked so hard on) and select a piece of relevant content and send it to them as part of the conversation. Perhaps a case study that would speak to their needs specifically, since you have already done your homework and know exactly what need or concern they have, which your product can answer.
And I repeat, this is a lead nurturing process too, so it doesn’t start and end in a straight line. Use statistics, analytics and social media monitoring tools to keep improving and refining your strategy (and perhaps even platform choices) so you are able to close the deal when you get to step 5. Don’t be the last seller to board the train, start creating your social strategy now. Happy social selling!