9 tips for selling through social media

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With social media changing how companies sell, social media consultancy Social Centered Selling unveils how to monetise the phenomena.

1. The sales landscape has changed

Right now, your prospects are reading about your products and services on blogs and in forums. They are scanning YouTube videos, your LinkedIn profile, Focus forums, Tweets and searching on Google for information about what they want to buy and from whom; they are ignoring the text on your website.

Now that social media has arrived on the scene, the classic formula of selling has been disrupted. Buyer 2.0 does not need you to educate them. Using the web and social tools, they are well educated on the features, functionality and pricing of available solutions long before they have their first conversation with sales.

Consider these facts:

Studies by Experian Marketing Services indicate that social networking now accounts for 15% of internet visits:

  • Twitter: 100m users.
  • LinkedIn: 150m.
  • Google+: 65m.
  • Facebook: 1bn.

2. What buyers want you to know

For sales organisations to succeed in today’s social business environment, they must first accept that buyer behaviour has changed! Buyer 2.0 is web savvy, informed and probably knows more about you than you know about them. In this new world, buyers start the sales process without you, which means that sellers must shift from a transactional approach to the sales process to a solution oriented, value-focused, and socially-connected approach.

These days, most buying decisions now start, move forward, and are very often closed online or over the phone without a single face-to-face meeting. That’s a frightening thought for the sales professional who has long believed that the only way to “close a deal” is to be sitting across the table from the prospect.

In addition to great people and sales skills, salespeople must also demonstrate that they are social media savvy and have strong business acumen. In Selling to the C-Suite, authors Stephen J. Bistritz, Ed.D. and Nicholas A.C. Read conducted extensive research on what buyers want salespeople to know. The question posed was: What has to happen in meetings with salespeople for the executive to feel it was effective?

The answer:

  • Demonstrated responsibility
  • Listened before proposing a solution
  • Understood my business goals
  • Displayed knowledge of my industry

Your prospect expects you to understand their business and with social networking tools like LinkedIn and Twitter, and business intelligence tools like InsideView, there is just no excuse for not having done your homework. We’ll get into that in more detail, but for now what you need to understand is that the days of walking in the door blind to your prospect’s issues are over. During the meeting is not the time to ask questions that you should already know the answers to. Meeting preparation is not optional.

3. Understand the technology

There is often confusion about the difference between LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and how each applies to the sales process. In a nutshell, here is how these platforms fit.

LinkedIn is your business networking tool and aids salespeople on the front-end of the sales cycle. Networking, lead generation, opportunity qualification, securing referrals and establishing business credibility in your field are just a few of the ways that you can use LinkedIn to your advantage.

Facebook is more conversational and personal in nature. For business, a Facebook fan page is often used by marketers to create customer loyalty and retention on the back-end of the sales cycle. By cultivating fans, marketing helps to ensure that your company remains front and centre in people’s minds.

Twitter is a micro-blogging tool and the real-time nature of the information being shared is a gold mine of business intelligence. You can follow your competitors to see what kinds of messages they are sending out. Or, follow the company that your prospect works for and stay on top of what kind of information they are sharing, what questions they are asking and the vendors they may be recommending.

4. The social selling approach

Social selling has risks, but sitting on the sidelines is the greatest risk of all!

You have been selling successfully for some time, so you may be asking, why do I need to worry about social media? The answer should be obvious. Your prospects are there! They are checking out what you offer and what your competitors offer. Who do you want them to choose?

Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Sales approaches that worked five or 10 years ago are just not effective; it is time to let them go. Yes, it will take a little upfront work to establish your foundation, but it is not as complicated as you may think.

Positioning yourself to succeed in a social selling world includes these elements:

  • Having a plan.
  • Picking the right tools.
  • Defining your audience.
  • Implementing actionable tactics.
  • Crafting your message.
  • Measuring and tracking.
  • Investing in training!


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