By Robert Gonye
ONCE upon a time, there was a notion that social media was unnecessary for selling; it was a novelty and not a staple. At the time, some believed that key enterprise-level decision-makers could not be reached on social platforms.
Now, however, social media is a necessity to establish credibility with potential buyers. In fact, over 75% of serious business people are on LinkedIn, same with buyers who look up sellers before replying to their outreach efforts.
And while Twitter may be less personal, the low barrier to entry means it is easy to get content in front of relevant people, make connections, and begin dialogues.
Today, social is not a trend, it’s a core component of selling.
What Is Social Selling?
Social selling is when sellers use social media to find and engage with potential buyers, decision makers, and influencers.
This goes well beyond doing direct outreach to set meetings or pitch products or services.
Instead, the best social sellers build and strengthen relationships with people and provide value from the start. They don’t jump right to a sales pitch, which risks immediately alienating people.
Social selling may be a means of reaching more people, but it is not a panacea. It won’t magically make sellers any better at the basics of selling, such as connecting with buyers, uncovering needs, demonstrating impact, overcoming objections, or presenting compelling solutions.
Social selling does not exist in a vacuum. It is a means of building relationships to supplement existing sales activities.
For example, over time, sellers can curate a combination of branded and non-branded content to establish an organization’s and seller’s expertise and build awareness. Increasing your online presence and credibility will support your outreach efforts, as well as generate inbound leads.
Social Selling Best Practices
There’s no single way to approach social selling, and each seller may engage differently depending on their situation and existing brand recognition. However, the following social selling tips can get you started and save you from common pitfalls.
Boil the Frog
There’s an old saying that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will sense the heat and jump out. But if you put a frog in cool water and turn up the heat slowly, the frog won’t notice.
When reaching out to people you would like to speak with, do not come on with intensity. Nothing screams “jump out of the hot pot” more than a “talk to me so I can sell you something” message.
Start cool and warm up slowly. Comment on their posts. Retweet them thoughtfully. Compliment something they wrote. Become familiar to someone—even if they do not engage you right away—and it is more likely they will engage with you in the future.
The world of social media changes very fast. However, some things never change—like the golden rule of networking (social or otherwise).
The golden rule? Givers gain.
“If we seek out and give help to a team member, colleague, or acquaintance, we create a social obligation for that person to help us or support us at a future date.”
How do you do that in social selling? Share a white paper or ebook. Share a relevant piece of research. Provide content that’s 100% customized to the individual’s situation. Offer to make a connection or a referral. And so on.
Remember, starting relationships can take many touchpoints. Do this right, and people will perceive you as valuable even before you interact with them, and you boil the frog at the same time.
Strive to Make Connections
When reaching out through social media, don’t settle for anything less than your best work. The standard “my products would be of value” overture does not catch anyone’s attention. It does not create any personalization or genuine connection. Once in a while, you will encounter someone who puts effort into establishing a connection. They are notable.
Be like these people. Find common ground, customize your outreach and list reasons why people would want to connect and speak with you.
Call reluctance is common on the phone. It happens online, too. People do not reach out online out of fear. “They won’t respond.” “They’ll say no.” “They’ll be angry with me.”
In the online world, there’s a heavy emphasis on the concept of inbound marketing. It is easy to see why—it’s a proven approach. But that does not mean proactive outreach—the online equivalent of cold calling—is either dead or bad. It’s now one part of a larger sales strategy.
When you find a particular person, you want to connect with, reach out. Be brave. Take shots.
Be Positive and Pleasant
When some people gear up their bravery for outreach, they think, “I’m about to reach out to a big-time person. I need to seem big time too!” So they puff out their chest and brag about how awesome they are.
I have had the good fortune of interacting with lots of guru types and most of them are pleasant and humble. The fastest way to come off as inconsequential is to keep saying how influential you are.
“Actions make you influential. Not your words or tweets. People who serve, people who help others, people who share the cool things that others are doing… those are the actions that make you influential.”
Prepare for Window Shopping
When you reach out to people, expect them to check you out. When someone writes to me and I’m curious, the first thing I do is Google them and see what comes up. Make sure when the people you’re reaching out to search for you online, you’re portrayed exactly how you want to be.
People build relationships with people they like. If you want to build relationships, be endearing. And the best way to do that? Let your personality shine through. Boring is forgettable. Personality is memorable. And social media outlets are the perfect place for you to be yourself.
When It’s Time, Take It Offline
Social media outlets are great places for starting conversations, but they’re not the only place to have them. When the time is right, take the conversation offline. You can start with a phone call, video conference, or face-to-face meeting. In any case, take the leap. Selling is a contact sport. After you’ve begun your conversation and built rapport, find a good reason to take the conversation offline and see where it takes you.
Robert Gonye is a Business Growth Expert and Influencer. A Sales Strategist and author of “Sales Made Simple workbook on winning new business “. He writes in his capacity. The views given herein are solely for information purposes.
Robertgonye2@gmail.com ,whatsapp : 0715023256