Social selling refers to the leveraging of social media networks and your personal brand to achieve your sales goals. It helps the sales person find the right connections and build trusted relationships, which in turn will make them better at most aspects of their jobs. Social selling is a powerful strategy which can help sell ideas, establish credibility in your niche, secure funding, attract talent and win over new customers. Since 25% of all time online is spent on social networking, it should be easy to see why this is such a powerful tool, whether it be for business development or brand promotion.
Potential investors, employees, colleagues, clients and customers are at your fingertips, but it’s not that easy. Social selling is not about placing adverts or promotions on your profile; it’s not about jumping on the bandwagon and doing what every other company is doing. It is not posting random thoughts or articles whenever the urge takes you. It’s not about self-promotion. It is about forming a solid brand strategy and like any campaign your business is involved in, it takes a hard work and persistence.
With so many people now using the internet to research their purchases and actually buy things online, you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. Using social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, is the way to connect with your potential clients and differentiate yourself from your competition.
Here are some tips to help your social selling efforts succeed:
- As mentioned before, start with a strategy. Create a profile for yourself which embodies the values, vision and purpose of your business. Decide on your target audience and start connecting with these people. The time spent establishing a presence on social media platforms puts you in front of your customers before they start buying. What could be better than delivering the right content, to the client on the right channel, at the ideal time in the sales cycle? Sales manipulation does not get better than this.
- Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool – if you work hard at gaining your clients’ trust and giving them a customer experience that leaves them feeling happy and loyal, they will share it with their networks.
- Track your results – like any strategy, if you can’t measure your efforts, you will struggle to know if you have succeeded. There are many tools online to help track traffic, giving you detailed reporting on where your sales or interest is coming from.
- Do your homework: understand your potential customers and find out what it is they need and want and who they are. People are more willing to share on social media platforms, so without feeling like a snoop, you can find out what makes them tick and send relevant and interesting content their way. Research shows that people are more likely to interact on social platforms when the profile has a photo, so make sure you put one up.
- Be authentic: once you have identified your potential customers, find common ground and establish a connection. Respond to a blog you liked, post comments with thoughts of your own, congratulate successes. You have a better chance of achieving sales through an already established relationship.
- Nurture and maintain your social media relationships. People want to interact with people they can trust. Social selling is about giving and receiving, interacting with people in a way that is non-confrontational.
- Seek referrals: within your groups of specific stakeholders, see if there are connections in common. Request an introduction from the mutual friend – this could be the end to cold calling.
- Listen to conversations and debate – join and follow group discussions in your industry to gain customer insights about needs, interest and trends.
- Engage with your customers: there are over 1.5 million unique publishers actively sharing content on LinkedIn. You can become a voice in your niche by sharing relevant content, blog posts and industry news. Try to publish content – if you do, it will become part of your profile and then shared by everyone, not just the people in your network.
The time dedicated to establishing a presence on social media platforms is never time wasted. It is an investment in your brand and if used correctly, will reap many benefits for your business.