The evolution of the online world has created an entirely new meeting place for sellers and buyers that moves at a pace incomparable to days of old. The new electronic landscape means that potential investors, employees, clients, and customers are literally at your fingertips in a matter of seconds. Within the online world, social media is no longer just a tool for interacting with friends; it has quickly developed into one of the most useful forums for ‘social selling’. Social selling is, by definition, the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process but how are companies evolving their techniques to meet new consumers and sell to the online generations?
First let’s look at the facts:
- Globally, there are over 1.5 billion social media users (McKinsey and Company)
- 55% of all buyers do their research by using social networks (IBM)
- 86% of consumers buying IT products use social media to help them reach a decision (Advertising Age) and over 70% of B2B purchase decision makers use social media to help them decide (Dell)
- Over half (57%) of the selling process is completed for consumers before a company even has a chance to interact with them which means that the time an actual salesperson gets involved, up to 90% of the selling process could be over and done with already (Corporate Executive Board)(Forrester)
- 78% of salespeople using social media perform better than their peers (Forbes)
Social selling is no longer optional, it’s a powerful strategy that can help sell your ideas, establish credibility, secure funding, and build your customer base. However, it’s up to you to build those relationships and establish trust to win your customers over. Here are some quick social selling tips to help you get started:
1. Do your homework.
Do your research and focus on where your target market spends time. Using social media analytics can be an informative tool for establishing current and future content – are your customers engaged with your posts? Do they respond to these types of updates? Don’t just rely on your own information either. Check out your competition and which social channels they’ve developed to maximize your reach for potential customers. In an age where people are beginning to open up more online, you should be able to use this key information to connect and interact with consumers. Give customers what they want where they are.
2. Be authentic.
In the world of social selling it’s the customer that holds the keys to success. Be sure that the message you are sending is a true representation of your company because the wrong message can move through a very large audience in a short amount of time. People are smart and they will see right through you; by being authentic you get authentic followers. The same goes for generating positive customer relationships. By answering customer praise or addressing negative feedback, it’s good practice to follow conversations and respond in a timely manner. Communicating with your customers and staying engaged with their conversations in an authentic way can make or break how online customers associate your brand.
3. Be consistent.
Engaging with customers isn’t a one-time deal. The more you network on social platforms, your relationships will become stronger and your pipelines will be bigger. That being said, don’t drill the information into your audience over and over again. No one likes to be sold to, they like solutions for their problems. Have conversations with them. The longer you’re engaged, the more of your information will be dripped into the audience’s mind. Successful salespeople are able to continue to keep engagement on social networks alive to supply a constant stream of potential customers.
4. I’ve got a follower, now what?
In order to complete the conversation, you’ll need to collect information from your followers or audience members. Landing pages and web forms turn hooks (or information to draw in consumers) into viable leads. Using lead capturing software or analytic platforms can also show you which campaigns and social networks give you the most return.
Social selling can be an extremely rewarding process when your business uses its networks to listen, engage, and share information that draws in more followers and customers. For example, the Cortex Network is a very valuable tool for leveraging social selling by allowing users to access and communicate with other users, find trusted partnerships, and build their businesses. It’s a great forum to develop new relationships and build upon current ones. But make sure you do research on your target audience to ensure your business is bringing the information directly to potential customers. Make the most of the information by taking advantage of social media analytics to measure the conversations and learn what to improve upon. The online world can be a great environment for capturing new leads if your message is consistent and authentic. When your business puts people first in social media the sales are sure to follow.