If you’ve connected to WiFi at least once in the past few years then you’ve heard of “social selling.” It’s an intimidating concept for conventional, business card-toting salespeople who are still often puzzled by their smartphones.
Yet, there’s no denying the prevalence or importance of social media in today’s sales process. In an effort to help you make the leap, here are five things to consider before you start social selling:
First, consider the human element
Social selling shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for engaging with customers. Rather, it’s an additional (and cost-effective) channel for doing so. It’s important you maintain the, for lack of a better word, humanness of your interactions.
Ironically, the default “personal note” when you wish to connect with someone on LinkedIn is “I'd like to add you to my professional network.” Would you ever say this to someone in person? Would you say this exact same phrase to everyone you meet? No. Instead, you would tailor your introductory message to the individual and try to find common ground. Think about it: The reason that the world has salespeople is due to the impact of building strong relationships.
Use online channels and tools to find and engage relevant connections. Use your interpersonal skills to foster relationships.
Second, consider your connections
Personally, when it comes to social media, I don’t want to connect with everyone. Connecting with everyone would turn my LinkedIn account to little more than a phonebook. Instead, I maintain a lean network of extremely valuable connections. If I can’t reach out to any one of my 500+ LinkedIn connections for an introduction, a bit of feedback or a reference, what’s the point?
Limit your network to only connections with whom, at minimum, you’ve had a dialogue.
Next, consider (and understand) the channels
Just as you don’t want to take on too many contacts, you also don’t want to take on too many social media channels. A dozen accounts are only valuable as far as you have time to maintain them. Select a couple hyper-relevant channels, build a strong network and then consider if other (or newer) channels are worthwhile. Especially for most B2B sellers, the place to start with social selling is LinkedIn. Make sure to review what works in your part of the world. Germans might want to also work with Xing. French might go for Viadeo.
Also, don’t underestimate the learning curve involved with joining a new social media channel. For example, when you connect with someone via the LinkedIn mobile app, it automatically sends the canned, aforementioned personal note. Only after the invite is sent can you go in and personalize the invitation.
Now, consider creating a process
By now you know not to be robotic, to limit your connections and to only use hyper-relevant channels. What you need now is a process—a list of the things you’ll do on each channel.
Here are a few ideas you could include in a LinkedIn process:
- Visit profiles that are interesting to your current goal. One of the most-visited pages on LinkedIn is the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” page. Visiting profiles and subsequently showing up on this page is a great way to literally get in front of relevant people. Automation tools like Dux-Soup make auto-visiting profiles a cinch!
- Authentically engage with content shared by relevant prospects. When people visit your profile, reciprocate by engaging with their content. If they invite you to connect, send them a response. Don’t be afraid to be frank. Ask them what they want to get out of the connection, or if they just blindly connecting.
- Leverage Saved Searches. I create and save searches of individuals who get most value from our services and thought leaders who are currently 2nd degree connections. Every week, I review this list for new opportunities and ask for introductions from our shared connections.
Finally, consider creating content
Okay, this tip is less a consideration and more a requirement. If you’re going to succeed long term in sales, you have to regularly share and produce content.
It doesn’t matter so much what you write about as long as it’s relevant to your customers. What’s most important is that you do it. Not only can you provide immense value to your customers in the form of information, but if you don’t have activity, no one will find you.
In addition, the thought process will force you to think through the story you can tell about your offering and enable you to communicate your value in a crisp, clear, and interesting way.
A few final thoughts
Social selling is not meant to take the place of the other things you’re doing. It’s a way to streamline and scale your existing sales process. It’s not difficult. It’s not expensive. And, it’s not rocket science.
Social selling as a sales tactic is not just about the future of selling – it’s already happening. People who are not doing it aren’t missing out on the future, they’re missing out now.
To read more posts from me, visit YourSales.com.