The term “social selling” is commonly used today, but the concepts of social selling are only slowly being integrated into the sales processes of organizations. Large brands such as IBM have begun to institutionalize social selling practices and these ideas are starting to filter down to smaller businesses.
The Better Closer publication provides this definition: “Social selling is about directly engaging prospects, on their terms. Learning their marketing, buying, and communicating preferences. Then positioning yourself to be of value.” Technically all of the above could be done without social media, but we will be talking about the use of social media to enhance these processes.
1. Join Your Customers
Developing a social media presence puts you where many of your customers are. While not everyone is using social media yet, this is clearly the direction things are going. If you want to be ahead of the curve rather than trying to catch up, social media is a channel you need to be involved in.
2. Stay In Contact
Social media provides you with another way to touch your audience. As email inboxes fill up and phone calls often go to voicemail automatically, social media provides another channel for contacting and remaining top of mind with those you want to reach. For your prospects and customers who prefer communicating via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or another social network, you offer them a way to connect with you via their favorite platform.
3. Make Prospecting Easier
One of the most powerful applications of social selling is in the area of prospecting. Social media’s democratic nature enables you to connect with decision makers and influencers that are otherwise difficult to reach. For example, LinkedIn allows you to reach prospects via direct invitation, InMail, an introduction or through Groups. On Twitter you can follow individuals as well as retweet, and comment on their posts which raises your visibility with them. Google+ offers similar options plus a number of other features such as Communities and Hangouts.
4. Collect Business Intelligence
The more you know about your clients, prospects and competitors the better. The business intelligence that you are able to get from social media is incredible. Twitter gives you real-time insights into news and issues relating to individuals and organizations of interest to you. LinkedIn is a treasure chest of professional information on individuals and companies. It is particularly useful for finding out how you are connected with other professionals whether it be through people or other commonalities such as schools, past employers, industries, volunteer work or personal interests.
5. Increase Your Connections in Your Target Market
Most salespeople have experienced the frustration of having a champion within a key account who leaves the company. You then have to start building relationships all over again, even if the account is a customer. Using social media as a sales tool enables you to more easily establish connections throughout prospect and customer organizations. This can help to facilitate the sales process when you need buy-in from different departments and also helps you stay connected when one of your key contacts leaves.
6. Don’t Lose Contact
Individuals who are advocates for your product in one company can often promote you at their new employer when they move. In pre-social media days, it was easy to lose contact with people when they changed companies. Now platforms like LinkedIn enable you to stay in touch through someone’s personal profile.
If you are using social media to help with your sales process, please share how this is working for you.