Social Selling is a buzzword that’s tossed around a lot but many aren’t really sure what it is. Frankly, it has a few connotations. Some think it’s the same as social media marketing. (Spoiler: It’s not.)
At its core, Social Selling is the act of developing referrals, leads and sales using social media (and other digital channels). It allows salespeople and entrepreneurs to laser-target their prospecting and establish rapport through existing connections.
Social selling strategies and tactics change with the needs of the individual or business.
- It can be super helpful for salespeople who sell high-ticket items such as cars, RVs, boats and real estate.
- It’s also very helpful for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business.
- ‘Team social selling’ or ‘company-wide social selling’ incorporates social media and all other digital communications to achieve goals for the company. This is an approach brought on by COVID but was certainly ripe, due to changing consumer shopping and buying preferences.
It’s a fact that word-of-mouth sales are highly profitable, close faster and have the highest win rate when it comes to customer experience. Social Selling is modern word-of-mouth.
Building and maintaining a network using social media is your best chance to expand and leverage word-of-mouth.
There are many sales professionals and entrepreneurs launching and maintaining their own network using their personal/professional ‘brand’. Many more however, are being held back by either their own fears or their bosses’ apprehensions.
Restricting access to social media for your salespeople is like unplugging the phone and turning off email. Social media is how we communicate with customers today. It’s often the most preferred channel by consumers, which is why I advocate for implementing a solid social media policy for employees (set the guidelines) and then allow employees to leverage social media to grow their network and increase sales.
If your customer is online and your products are online, why aren’t your salespeople online?
Over the last ten years, I’ve seen thousands of companies limit salespeople’s time on social or outright block them from using social media, mistakenly perceiving it as a playground.
Adding to the complexities, we have the privacy issues, data-selling tactics and all-round bad behavior by the social media companies, that have further eroded trust in social media.
Even with all of the bad actors and bots, social media still plays a very important role in establishing relationships with customers. It’s become part and parcel to how we communicate and social media can achieve very lucrative outcomes when used strategically and thoughtfully.
Everyone would like to sell more, but not everyone knows precisely how. The answer, believe it or not, may very well be right at your fingertips. Get your FREE Guide: 20 Social Selling Techniques for More Leads and Referrals
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Six Social Selling Tips
If you’re ready to jump into social selling but don’t really know where to start, I’ve compiled six social selling ‘Ps’ to lay the ground work for you. It’s not easy but anything worthwhile never is, right? Start here to build strong relationships with those in your sphere of influence.
1. Passion (is contagious)
Science shows us that passion is contagious. Researchers have proven “EP” (entrepreneurial passion) plays a critical role in an entrepreneur’s success. This goes for salespeople, too.
Passion is core to a person’s self-identity. It defines you, therefore, it also defines your business.
What are you passionate about? Make a list of at least five things that make you excited to jump out of bed in the morning. It might be your job. If so, break down what it is about your job that you love. It might be parenting, or golfing, or running, animal causes or 80’s music. Clearly define what you’re passionate about because you’ll need it for inspired Social Selling.
Your passions are what connect you with others. When you’re passionate about what you do, it’s contagious.
Connect with people who share your passions.
Whatever you’re into, there’s a group or network to connect with other like-minded people. If you’re into horses and equine welfare (like me), there are groups to share your passions with. If you’re into food, you may have reviews on Yelp that get liked and commented on. If you’re already building your network, you probably belong to groups on Facebook or LinkedIn that share your passions.
Your network is your net worth and networks are people.
If you’re starting from scratch, begin building your network by seeking out those you want to know and meet. Who in your network knows them? You can either ask for an introduction, start following them or in some cases, connect with them directly. Example: Request a LinkedIn connection and include a short note to them about why you’d like to connect. This tactic only works if your message is sincere and not filled with sales talk.
Pro Tip #1: Once you’ve connected, DO NOT send the new connection a long winded message about how you can solve their problems with your product. It’s a good way to get blocked and reported.
Pro Tip #2: Connect your real-life relationships too. When you can get customers to connect with you on social media, you’re constructing a valuable asset from which to cultivate future referrals.
3. Provide Value
There is a street fight for human attention right now. Getting and keeping that attention is difficult without providing value in some way. The best way to establish that connection (and keep it) is by creating your own content.
95% of customers start their purchase process online and the content you create and publish can often mean getting the sale or losing it to your competitor.
What is “Content”?
Content is anything that communicates a message to your intended customer. Once content is created, it’s typically syndicated through social channels and email.
Content comes in many forms:
- Writing (such as a blog but also social media updates)
- Audio (such as a podcast)
- Live streaming/video
How can I provide value with content?
- Be the first person to answer your prospects’ questions.
- Become a Social Selling rockstar by answering the questions that people don’t know to ask.
I won’t sugar coat this: building relationships online takes hard work and perseverance. You’re going to have a lot of false starts and that’s a good thing! Every move you make will take you one step further to where you want to go.
It’s harder to connect on a human level with people when they exist in two dimensions on your computer screen or mobile device. You need to work extra hard to make sure you’re interacting in a way that allows you to build genuine, meaningful relationships.
Customers want to work with people they know, like and trust. When building professional relationships with people online, consider the intersection of these three qualities: transparency, likability and credibility. Transparency lets people get to know you, while likability reflects their interest in you and credibility builds trust.
Building a strong online presence takes time. But remember, every one of those influencers you see began somewhere.
Keep in mind that the days of someone buying from you without any prior research are gone. Consumers have been trained by online/e-commerce sites to expect lots of information before they buy. Think about the last time you bought something online – let’s just say Amazon. Isn’t it true that nearly everything a buyer needs to know is on that product page?
Now let’s talk about providing customers with the information they need in order for them to choose you first:
- Brand your social Bios
- Engage in active discussions
- Build social proof (testimonials)
- Social actions (causes or charities you’re involved with)
Once you jump into Social Selling, you’ll want to set some goals for yourself and track your progress. This helps keep you motivated to find new and unique ways of connecting.
Use these metrics to track your progress:
- Network Growth. Make a plan and set objectives to consistently grow your network.
- “I will connect with ten people this week.”
- “I will search for viable connections that will be mutually beneficial.”
- “I will reach out to three people this week just to say hello.”
- Social channels. It’s important to determine the number of social channels you can handle in your daily routine. You’ll want to start with the one you’re most comfortable with and make it the one where your network and prospects frequent. Once you’ve gotten more comfortable on that channel, move onto the next one. You’ll be able to use the same content for each channel but it will need to be tweaked to fit (image size, amount of characters, links, etc).
- Your Professional Brand. How are people perceiving you? What sort of answers are you getting in conversations or connection requests? Constantly reassess what your ‘brand’ means to your network.
Building a strong social presence is key to Social Selling.
Use these six P’s of Social Selling to launch or enhance your own referral network of current, past and future customers.
The pandemic has accelerated the need for all sellers to become digitally fluent and communicate well online, and all indicators point to the fact that this shift here to stay. This means that salespeople and entrepreneurs need to navigate the online world as well as they do over the phone or in-person. For salespeople who want to up their game, Social Selling is the next step.
Many organizations and their salespeople don’t feel ready for digital retail and social selling. I can help. Get in touch with me HERE and I’ll reply within 24 hours.