Every salesperson wants to be the ONE that customers choose, over and over again. But many salespeople find today’s firehose of technology challenging. The advancements in CRMs, social media and content management platforms have made it easier than ever to engage and stay connected with customers, but only if you’re able to use those platforms to your advantage. There’s never been a better time to begin the practice of Social Selling, but it’s hard to know where to start.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is a sales technique that allows salespeople to laser-target their prospecting and establish rapport through existing connections.
79% of salespeople who use social media as a sales tool, outsell those who don’t.
It’s easy to fall into the familiarity trap when performing your job. You go to work, you do your job and you go home. Complacency sets in and the next thing you know, leads and referrals dry up and you’ve got nothing in the pipeline.
Social Selling fights complacency and actually conveys a positive impression that works FOR you, even when you’re not readily available.
All Social Selling starts with a customer-centric mindset.
What makes a good salesperson?
Great salespeople have two distinct qualities: empathy and ego-drive. In Social Selling, it’s the optimal balance of these two qualities that determines who wins the sale and who doesn’t.
The need to conquer is also a valuable quality. It makes salespeople want and need to make the sale in a personal way, not merely for the money gained. The feeling must be that he or she has to make the sale; the customer is there to help fulfill his or her personal need.
What sometimes gets overlooked in selling is the salesperson’s ability to feel. Empathy is the important central ability to feel as the other person does in order to sell them a product or service. One cannot sell well without the invaluable and irreplaceable ability to get powerful feedback from the client through empathy.
You’ll have much more Social Selling success if you can imagine what it’s like from your customer’s viewpoint.
The purchase of your product is a milestone for your customer. Maintaining a customer-centric mindset through empathy keeps you focused on “what’s in it for them” (instead of what’s in it for you).
Yes, tell me more
10 Social Selling Actions to Get Traction
Possessing a nice balance between ego-drive and empathy throughout the entire sales process helps serve your customers better. Your next steps are crucial.
1. Build a recognizable personal (professional) brand.
There are three things that differentiate you from any other person: Your face, your expertise and your “Why”.
It’s important to always be yourself.
Building a recognizable professional brand opens up professional opportunities. Every time you’re online, in a meeting, at a conference, networking reception or even a backyard BBQ, be mindful of:
- What others are experiencing about you.
- What you want others to experience about you.
In each of your engagements you are being evaluated by your customers, peers and even friends and family. When you’re solid in your professional brand, there is no difference between #1 and #2.
Being new to this idea of a professional brand can be challenging. However, when you begin to see yourself living through the “lens of a brand,” your perspective will change and you’ll become more mindful about how you approach the professional brand you are trying to define and aiming to live.
A professional brand is about making a full-time commitment to the journey of defining yourself as a leader and how this will shape the manner in which you will serve others.
Your professional brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving.
2. Research where your prospects spend their time.
Pinpoint the channel your ideal prospects occupy the most. LinkedIn is a good first choice, especially for beginners. It’s more structured than Facebook or Instagram and that can help when you’re new.
Whether you’re selling to consumers or businesses, LinkedIn provides a wealth of information with their advanced search options. Please consider the paid option for LinkedIn. It delivers much better search results and pays for itself when you close one deal.
Other channels are certainly valuable too. If you’re comfortable with Facebook or Instagram, use your personal account to start (instead of a business page). Your friends and family know you and it’s important that they remember you when their connections need what you’re selling.
Social media is one of the first channels consumers head to when they have a question or an issue. This provides many ways to engage customers and deliver value.
3. Launch on the social channel that scares you the least
Go easy on yourself. Pick the platform you feel the most comfortable with. If you don’t have one, dive in and make a choice. Set your privacy settings high to give your “lizard brain” a sense of control. Thoughtfully consider each time you post and mark specific customer-centric posts ‘Public’.
Spend at least 30 minutes a day on this first platform. Look around, see who you know and participate by commenting on posts. You’ll get more comfortable each time.
A good plan that’s well executed will always overcome fear. Research who you know and who you want to know. Does your company have a special product, service or pricing that’s ideal for a particular customer or group of customers? Make a plan to connect with that individual or group and begin to provide your value.
4. Build your social profiles.
Success in Social Selling starts with professional and well-optimized profiles.
Your image is just as important in the digital world as it is in the real world. Online, your profile image is the first thing prospective clients will see. Make a good impression with a professional image that isn’t too stuffy, but still makes you look trustworthy and friendly.
Your bio on any social network has to accomplish everything a greeting, handshake and an elevator pitch would do in person. Write every word with your prospect in mind and write in the first person, not the third. And be sure to be very clear about sharing your contact info. Share multiple avenues if there is room.
Take advantage of the “free real estate” that social media gives you. Be consistent with your image and bio on each platform so people will recognize you wherever they go.
Although you’re probably not going to leverage every channel right now, it’s best to create profile placeholders so that competitors don’t beat you to it.
5. Increase rapport with relevant, helpful content.
The quality of the information you publish on social media drives your results. What you post will determine how people perceive you and the level of service you can provide.
As a Social Selling beginner with a customer-centric mindset, follow this framework:
- Always represent your professional brand
- Know your customers inside and out
- Answer your customers’ most frequently questions
- Show what it’s like to do business with you by sharing customer success stories and reviews.
Ask yourself: “What type of content is valuable to my network?”
- Helpful, educational
- Funny, uplifting
- Causes I support
- Outside-of-work interests
- Goal: Become the ‘likable expert’
Pro Tip: Video is one of the best ways to convey your helpfulness and expertise. Many beginners are apprehensive about being in front of a camera. As an introvert, I can relate. However, it gets easier every time you do it. If you feel comfortable using video, go for it. If not, still go for it. Eventually, you’ll find a comfortable space that works.
6. Institute your own social selling process.
If you’ve been in sales for any length of time, you know that having a process always helps you sell more. The same is true for Social Selling.
- Connect with current customers when appropriate
- Be the first to provide value in the relationships
- Listen for engagement opportunities
- Participate in conversations
- Create your own content
- Like, comment on or share other people’s content
- Actively seek out who you’d like to know and identify who might refer you
- Recognize leads as the happen and offer to take the conversation offline
- Don’t forget to ask for the sale when appropriate
- Always ask for an online review or testimonial
7. Track your Social Selling efforts.
The best way to get better at Social Selling is by learning from your existing efforts. Collect insights from your current efforts and see what’s effective as well as what isn’t. Based on this data, ask yourself what you should be doing differently and what you can do better. This can help you gain a clearer direction of how you should change and adapt your efforts to deliver even better results.
Track these metrics and set personal goals to improve:
- Inbound connections and network growth.
- Content engagement rate (how many people are engaging with your content each week?)
- Follower quality (followers who find and engage with your content)
- Prospect referrals
- Lead activity
Pro Tip: LinkedIn has a “Social Selling Index” (SSI). Once you’re actively on LinkedIn, check out your own SSI right HERE.
8. Earn trust by sharing success stories.
I’ve always believed that the most valuable way to build rapport with customers is by using images and video to ‘tell the story’ of your current customers’ experiences.
In advertising, the store may speak of providing exceptional service or you may be highlighting some impressive features of your specific vehicles. But because they get bombarded by so many ads everyday, your prospects may not necessarily trust what you’re saying.
If you wish to earn the trust of potential customers, use social media to showcase proof that will backup your claims.
This proof would ideally be the success stories and reviews from your existing customers. You can:
- Create custom graphics (with canva.com) with a photo of the customer and a brief summary of the results they achieved with your help.
- Video testimonials are extremely compelling and also get noticed by Google when you optimize them on YouTube. They can also be used on Facebook and LinkedIn as influential ways to reinforce your credibility. A powerful video testimonial may even be the deciding factor that makes your deal.
It’s pretty powerful to see and hear a loyal, happy customer’s feedback about their car buying experience. Prospects feel more comfortable about their purchase knowing others had a great experience.
9. Master the art of networking to expand your reach.
Building a referral network is no easy task. It takes time and diligence but it pays off tremendously, especially when you find yourself in dire situations like losing a client…or losing your job.
- Always have a goal. Know what you want before you begin.
- Do your homework. Brief yourself about the person you’re connecting with.
- Stay authentic. Be yourself, be friendly, be interesting.
- Quality over Quantity. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
- Figure out how to help people.
- Ask for referrals.
When you’re a beginner at networking, your first notion is to connect with as many people as possible. However, the exact opposite action is much more effective. Identify who you want to know. Leverage your current network to build more circles of influence. The more selective you are, the more valuable your network is.
10. Show up to give.
“Show up to give, not to get. Share your ideas to help others and others will share your ideas.” ~Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek says he is naturally shy and doesn’t like speaking to crowds. However, his TED Talk is the 3rd most-watched talk (54 million views and counting!) and he’s built a huge brand helping people understand more about themselves so they can achieve greater success.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
When you’re able to convey why you do what you’re doing, you connect much deeper than just the “transactional” level. Show up to give, look for opportunities to help solve your customer’s problems, and watch your network grow – online or offline!
If you’re new to Social Selling, these tips will give you a head start. If you’ve got questions, please contact me here.