Being successful in sales will take you anywhere you want to go, right? Umm, not so fast. In today’s online environment where 95% of buyers start their purchase process online, tried-and-true sales techniques are valuable but not foolproof.
I meet sales professionals everyday who excel at their sales process but they’re lost when it comes to taking those skills online. Over my 25+ years in car dealerships, I can count on one hand those salespeople I know who genuinely possess a talent for both sales and networking. Social Selling requires both. It’s using technology to leverage the vast openness of the Internet to nurture relationships and foster sales.
When I started in the car business, the dealer hired me to be his assistant. I quickly realized that I wanted to sell cars, so he agreed to let me give it a try. I’ve always been a natural networker but I had a lot to learn about how to apply that within a good sales process. Back then, I was able to succeed because I leveraged my relationships and worked my process. Who knows what I could’ve accomplished if I’d had Social Media.
There are two main skill sets needed for Social Selling:
- A solid sales process.
- The ability to network and refer effectively online.
As a manager or GM, it’s easy to assume that great salespeople know how to network successfully and that great networkers excel at selling. However, salespeople’s’ skills for these can often be mutually exclusive.
There’s a lot of misapprehension about Social Selling.
Many great salespeople are apprehensive, nervous and even fearful of social networks.
- How do I present myself online?
- What do I say?
- I don’t feel comfortable.
- What about my privacy?
- Who will see my posts?
- What are the Do’s and Don’ts?
- Why does it matter?
I recently learned of a Social Selling conference where one of the speakers was a sales trainer and I happen to know that he doesn’t practice Social Selling himself. In fact, one of the tips he gives is, “Get on Twitter! Hey, it’s free!” Of course Twitter is free because it’s simply a platform. What isn’t free is the time and effort to expend to make it work for you. What’s dangerous is you can damage your reputation without knowing the pitfalls.
Be careful about who you listen to and what they’re saying. Sales trainers train on sales process and that’s a very valuable component of your overall sales action plan. However, many of them do not have the first inkling how to train on Social Selling.
Processes are so valuable to sales success. Sales leaders know this and that’s why they’re successful. Social Selling is a new process and many sales trainers neglect to incorporate an action plan for Social Selling.
These steps will help you integrate your already awesome sales process with Social Selling techniques.
Social Selling Action Plan
- Take advantage of free real estate. Complete your profiles on every social platform (claim them even if you’re not going to use them right away) and also claim your name’s domain URL.
- Describe (in writing) why you do what you do. What differentiates you from everyone else? If you get stuck, ask your best customers.
- Identify who you WANT to connect with. Locate 4-5 people per week who are valuable prospects for you.
- Lay the ground work to become a “Likable Expert.” Post content that attracts and engages those ideal prospects. Start with one platform, the one you feel most comfortable with AND the one where your ideal customers are most likely spending their time. When you’re ready, you’ll start a blog.
- Participate. Spend time engaging (networking). Look for communities where you can make a difference. Do you have a favorite hobby? Do you have a cause that’s dear to your heart? Tap into communities where you can bring value to the table.
- Giver’s Gain. Become known for quality info, helpfulness, and expertise. Be perceived as someone who’s willing to lend a hand, who will participate thoughtfully, deliberately and authentically.
- Don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t try to master every single platform or be all things to all people.
- Leverage LinkedIn Advance Search to connect with ideal prospects. Example: Many OEMs offer great discounts on cars to employees of large companies. Seek out the HR manager at that company and offer to do a free 45-minute workshop on “How to Avoid the Perils of Buying a Car.”
- Facebook Groups are a valuable way to network. The algorithms seem to offer up Group content in users’ newsfeeds more often now so there’s a likelihood that members will see your content. You may even want to start your own Group.
- Work referrals. Ask for them. Don’t discount the value of a current or repeat customer.
- Always ask for an online review. Ask customers to mention your name (to build your own personal brand online). Help them help you become a Social Selling superstar.
A large component of your solid sales process is using the phone and email to follow up on leads. Social Media allows you to connect more often without being so invasive. It’s important how you approach, but coming from a place of thoughtful service is a good guide.
Sales and Social Selling are not the same.
Where many sales managers and GMs miss the boat is they neglect to add Social Selling to their team members’ daily duties. You must acclimate communication with prospects and customers through Social and Mobile.
Be sure to implement a comprehensive Social Media policy so that every team member receives guidelines and tips to practice good social manners.
There’s a tremendous power in leveraging technology to connect, engage, recognize leads, and follow up. Incorporate your sales and Social Selling processes to form one cohesive machine that can’t be stopped.