The first thing that may come to mind when you think of social selling is that salesperson that fires you a message on LinkedIn immediately after connecting with them. Then messages you multiple times in the following days. Because of approaches like this, social selling gets a bad wrap. These types of salespeople are like frat guys at last call; they try to close way too fast. Social selling is one of the many marketing buzzwords. But when it is done right, it can be a beneficial tool that helps you close more deals than you could have thought. But if it is done poorly (as it is easy to do it poorly), you can be seen as the new age vacuum salesperson going door to door. I am sure most people reading this blog can relate to that LinkedIn salesperson, reaching out constantly and annoying you. Don’t be them.
Social selling can be a great way to engage and get to know your prospects. Social media allows people to post everything about themselves and allows you to filter based on large quantities of data to find exactly who you are looking for. Some of the best salespeople leverage social media to start conversations and build longer-term relationships. When it comes to building these relationships through social media, it is all about crafting the appropriate strategy.
The first step is defining who your ideal customers are. Think through all of their core attributes such as company size, decision-makers’ job title, goals, the problems they need solved, pain points, etc. Then create bits of content that relate to these pain points (this will come back in a moment). Then, like, reply, and share their content on LinkedIn, but do not expect anything in return for this. This is to build rapport with them. Finally, invite them to connect with you, and when they look into who you are briefly, they will recognize your name from your interactions with their content and will see the content you posted on interests of theirs. All of these steps add up to the value of you as a connection. So that when you make that connection, you can build the relationship further into a real-world connection. This is a great way to get your foot in the door, but there are dozens of other social selling strategies that need to be in your mind as well. As with anything, there is no one size fits all approach, and you need to be quick on your feet.
1. Work On Yourself First
Before you start social selling, you need to ensure that your profile is fully complete and optimized. If you reach out to a prospect without a profile picture, I can almost guarantee that you won’t see a response from them. On the other hand, if you’re talking to a prospect and you say you are from company X, but your profile doesn’t include your work experience at company X, you’re not going to look very trustworthy. Ensuring your profile is complete doesn’t take very long but it will make a big difference in the long run.
2. Don’t be that person…
Don’t try to sell someone the moment you meet them. We have all received those LinkedIn messages the second you click accept on their connection request. The experience they will have from being blindly pitched will leave a bad impression, and they will not want to engage with you further. Build your connection with them and make your pitch the idea of building that relationship. Relationships are in it for the long run and are worth more than a sale. By building your pitch into the relationship, the conversation moves more naturally. Ask open-ended questions and schedule a discovery meeting by stating you have similar interests and go from here.
3. Act Natural
The ultimate goal is to drive business and get sales, but you may need to look at the big picture. Don’t just try to get this sale, then move on. You are looking for the long term association that goes along with that sale. You will want to engage with the prospect and ask and answer questions to steer the conversation naturally. Focusing on relationships will change your sales’ lifetime value and change how you approach your prospects moving forward. Then, you will see a rise in your close rate.
With all of your prospect’s information readily available online nowadays, you should not excuse why you went into a conversation or meeting without notes. There are countless tools out there for LinkedIn and other social media automation or lead generation efforts. Using these tools, in tandem with your current sales techniques, increase your chance of closing the sale dramatically. Not to mention also using the tips in this article. By using the information your prospects give about themself on social media channels, the groups they are involved in, and the content they post, you should be able to build a profile on them. You can then use this profile to ensure they are your ideal customer profile and custom tailor an approach for them.
5. Go To Them!
One of the most effective ways to find prospects is to go online where they typically go to discuss the problems they are experiencing. Now, this could be review sites of your competitors such as G2 and Capterra or online forums such as Quora. Now both of these are valuable strategies, but both require a slightly different approach. After you find them on the forum, plant yourself in the conversation naturally by providing tips or solutions while promoting your brand. You can also use some of the information and pain points being shared in these forums or review sites and use it for your own marketing to better target them.
6. Talk About Why, Not How
Now, let’s take a moment and think about The Golden Circle and what Simon Cinek says (and if you are unfamiliar, I would recommend watching some of his speeches), and talk to your customers and prospects about why you do what you do and not how. Now I don’t mean to say, “I do this to make money” that’s a given (to an extent); we are all businesses, and to survive, you have to make money. What I mean by why you do what you do; I mean what is the core reason you exist. This can sometimes be difficult to answer, and if you are struggling, I recommend asking yourself “why” 5 times. For example, a HotDog stand might answer the first why “to feed people,” then why do you feed people? Etc. This will typically allow you to understand your core objective. The reason why this is so important is because customers buy why you are doing something, not how you do something. There are plenty of competitors out there that do the same (or similar) things as you, but why are you special, and why should they care?
7. Where’s The Love?
Oh, to be back in 2003 when that song was released. An effective social media strategy is sharing what your company has been up to in public, what your employees have been up to, interesting achievements internally, customer success, etc. You will be surprised at the engagement you receive on posts of this nature compared to continuously plugging your own company and promoting your work. Prospects also interact and trust companies that promote their employees and customers. Prospects want to see that you care about more than just the bottom line. It’s called social media for a reason, be social and engage with everyone on it. I can attest to the fact we typically see 2-3 times the engagement on customer success posts, what’s happening at the offices or employee recognition posts than we do promote ourselves.
Many salespeople complicate social selling or try to do too much too quickly, and it comes off as pushy or sloppy. This might sound funny. Given that we outlined multiple tips to help with social selling along with further links to tools and other tips. But, if you keep your strategy simple, approach conversations with the correct research, and talk with prospects like normal humans, you are doing better than many others. If you are authentic and helpful with prospects and customers, you will get better results. Than if you were to treat everyone as a number on your bottom line.