Social Selling: 21 Ways to Engage Your Network for Referrals and Leads

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automotive-social-selling-consulting-trainingEveryone would like to sell more. Not everyone knows exactly how. The answer may be right at your finger tips. Social Selling increases your reach enabling you to sell more by leveraging the trusted relationships you’ve built up over the last month, year or your entire career.

All selling is social. Always has been. Always will be. Before Social Media, people bought from people in social ways. Today, we have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more to connect with prospects and customers during each stage of the buying process.

Many businesses and their salespeople don’t feel ready. To help you get ready and take action, I’ve compiled a list of 21 ways to engage your network for referrals and leads:

1. Always start with a plan.

Set clear goals. Here are some examples:

  • Grow my network by 100 connections this month
  • Engage with 20% of my network each month
  • Convert 20 conversations into leads this month
  • Track leads each week
  • Earn 5 referrals this month

2. Take advantage of free real estate.

Fill out every one of your social profiles completely. You must put your best face forward in all sales situations and Social Selling is no different. Get yourself a great profile pic and keep it the same for each platform. Marketing is about a consistent message and that includes your ‘ personal brand.’ If you’re not good at writing your bio (most of us aren’t), hire someone to do it. It’s reasonable and it’s the first place after your profile pic that people will go to check you out.

3. Seek out like-minded individuals and groups on social platforms.

What do you like to do on your days off? Whatever that is, there’s a community for it. Engage people in conversations (do not try to sell to them right out of the shoot!). There’ll be plenty of time for that later on.

4. Practice the art of conversation.

If you were thrown into a professional environment where your life depended on getting to know people in the room, would you be able to do that? Your life does depend on your ability to converse with people – it’s how you make a living as a salesperson. Introverts can master this too. How do I know? Because I’m an introvert.

5. Consume content from bloggers that inspire you and post comments regularly.

Make the best of your downtime and spend 20 minutes a day reading inspiring content from bloggers you love. Engage them by asking questions. Share their posts to your network. Develop relationships from the inspiration you’ve experienced.

6. Be the first one in every relationship to provide value.

Online or offline, the right kind of leverage in a relationship allows you to extract value over time. How does one acquire that kind of leverage? Be the first person in the relationship to provide value.

7. Be a storyteller.

Storytelling makes your marketing and networking come alive. You can be like everyone else….or you can figure out what you do better than anyone else and tell your story.

8. Capture the attention of people on your Facebook.

Chances are you’ve already started building a network on Facebook. Share at least 2 relevant, interesting, helpful status updates per day on Facebook and engage at least 10 times per day with your network. I’ve had many salespeople and managers say they sold a car (or two, or ten) to someone they know on Facebook.

9. Show another side of your personality on Instagram.

Here’s your chance to tell a visual story.

10. Post content from your blog (or other people’s blogs) on LinkedIn at least twice a day.

LinkedIn is doing some really cool stuff. Like all social networks, when you share great content and engage, you move up in search results.

11. Reply to other people’s tweets.

Show that you’re interested in the things that other people have to say. It encourages them to check out your profile and content.

12. Use video in creative ways to show your personality, not just your products.

Here’s another great way to tell your story. If you feel comfortable in front of the camera, use it to your advantage. People want to know about the products you sell but they also want to know about you. They’re looking for ways to trust you. Give them some.

13. Share content on Google+ that’s relevant to your customers’ needs and interests.

Not everyone connects on G+ but if you do, build a trusted network there. Google will notice.

14. Develop your Ask.

Whether it’s a referral you’re looking for, a lead you’ve been chatting with or asking for online reviews from your current customers, everyone needs to work up their mojo to ask for what they want. Practice makes profit. Your repeat customers are ideal to ask, “Who do you know who…..” They’ll sing your praises to their network.

15. Don’t discount offline opportunities.

Are you involved with a charity, church, youth sports or other offline events and causes? If you are, set a goal of getting to know someone better in the group. Offer up meeting for coffee or a drink. If you’re not involved with a group offline, Meetup.com has hundreds of choices with all types of activities in your area.

16. Never underestimate the power of repeat customers as advocates.

Asking for testimonials should be in your plan. Connecting with your repeat customers on Social Media is a great way to stay in touch. Social Selling is not about you saying how great you are – the power lies in when others say it.

17. Be a teacher.

Content is a sales tool. Excellent content is all about teaching. Keep your ego out of the equation, and always put your buyer first.  What do they want to know?  What do they need to know?  Write the answers to every possible question they might have about our product, service, industry. Great tip:  Write down the 50 most frequently asked questions your sales people get from prospects and buyers. Now write 50 blog posts.

18. Always respect your contacts. Never try to sell to people who’ve never heard of you.

Just today, I was spammed by someone on LinkedIn. They sent me a message to join their “professional” religious group. The person who sent it is not connected with me nor am I interested in their fee-based group. If you do this, it shows prospects that you spent zero time getting to know them before you reached out and tried to sell them something. Take your time, build trust by working your plan.

19. Build loyalty.

Respond quickly if a customer has a complaint. When you’re responsive, open, willing to listen and take action to rectify a customer’s issue, your network (and theirs) will witness it. You’ll solidify your standing as a trustworthy seller who cares about your customers.

20. Connect using humor.

The shortest distance between two people is a laugh.

21. Be helpful.

This one sounds really simplistic but I want you to think about being helpful in every sales situation you come into. Solving problems and sharing important information that only you, with your expertise, can deliver. With your core intention to be helpful, you’ll touch many more people’s lives and create the impact you’re hoping for with Social Selling. Do you feel ready now to take the plunge with Social Selling? If you’d like to know more or get in-depth guidance for your sales team, click here.

Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse is an Automotive Social Media Marketing Expert, Blogger, Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people”, Kathi’s passion for the car business spans a 30-year career managing successful dealerships in Southern California. Kathi is the author of “Automotive Social Business – How to Captivate Your Customers, Sell More Cars & Be Generally Remarkable on Social Media”. Her Kruse Control Blog is the leading Automotive Social Media blog in the US.
Kathi Kruse

@kathikruse

Social Media Marketing, Online Reputation. Consultant, Trainer, Blogger, Speaker, Author. Founder/CEO Kruse Control Inc. Yoga, horses, animal advocate.
How to Earn the Right to Talk About Your Product or Service http://t.co/qdVWnGcjlp @HubSpot - 16 hours ago
Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse
  • Pingback: Social Selling: 21 Ways to Engage Your Network for Referrals and Leads | DealerNerd()

  • http://www.worldtopseller.com/ Michael Lu

    Hi Kathi

    Great post!

    I had write a post about social media tools you may interested.

    here it is :goo.gl/cuWp3d
    I hope you like it

  • Shebbay

    Kathi,
    I can relate to tip #18 as I had this situation come up this week when a person sent a message to my in box asking about what I charge for a certain service. Well I guess I did not have a plan at the time because I responded back with a quote as they wanted, and they sent a message back that they had chosen someone else. So I took it a step further, and asked the dreaded question of what changed your mind. Still waiting to hear back from them about this one. The answer to this tip for me is I agree with you because I did not know this person, I think we are in the same group, not sure how she pulled me up. Maybe just on the “hunt” for a cheap fix and that’s not how I run my services.

    • http://www.krusecontrolinc.com krusecontrol

      Hi Shebbay, I have run into the same situation many times, ugh. I used to go to so much trouble with proposals and such. Now, I qualify the person through a conversation. Establish rapport first, ask questions, find out if we are the “right fit”. Yeah, the cheap fix is not a long term strategy. Save your energy, spend your time on those that are more deeply connected to their own success.

  • http://SmallBizSalesCoach.ca Patti Pokorchak

    Great post. Well summarized to put the social into selling and get away from the pushy sales strategy & tactics.

    PS You’ve got a great last name for your business! Wish I was in the gambling business with my Poker-chuck name.

    • http://www.krusecontrolinc.com krusecontrol

      Thanks Patti! I was born with the right name, who knew?

  • Dave Howlett RHB

    Great article! May I add another?

    22. Develop your filter. Don’t post anything on social media you wouldn’t pin up on a company bulletin board. Sometimes you will get angry or frustrated; go for a walk. :)

    • http://www.krusecontrolinc.com krusecontrol

      Totally agree, Dave. Before your hit send, ask yourself, “Would I follow this person/company based solely on this one post/tweet?”

  • http://my-creativeteam.com/blog Harry Hoover

    Good advice, Kathi, particularly about not selling to people who have never heard of you. Timing of messages is critical in social selling. You don’t ask the girl to marry you on the first date!

    • http://www.krusecontrolinc.com krusecontrol

      Right on, Harry! That’s a great analogy. There’s such a strong tendency to go for the sale at all costs. We see the opportunity and want to take it as fast as possible. But the customer is smarter than that and they want answers and trust before making the move.

  • Pragati Bidkar

    Number 14 is not my strong point..hoping to build it up :) Thanks for a helpful post, Kathi!

  • PTtally

    Thanks for sharing your list of 21 ways to grow your network. I would probably add to do the activities with consistency. Consistency leads to building trust in the networking / customer relationship.

    • http://www.krusecontrolinc.com krusecontrol

      You’re welcome. Thanks for adding to the list! Consistency certainly does build trust. People know they can count on you!