If you’re not selling socially, the odds are you’re not selling at all—or won’t be soon. A Forrester Research study confirmed that 82 percent of consumers use the Internet to research products or services online before they buy.
For B2B sales reps, however, selling online is a bit of a quandary. The same Forrester report says that less than 1 percent of people use social media outlets to do research.
So, how do you use social media as an outlet to drive sales? Here are six social selling tips that actually work.
- Align with your marketing department ASAP. With an overwhelming number of your potential customers going to your website, LinkedIn account and Facebook page, it’s more vital than ever that traditional sales reps are aligned with your company’s digital marketing efforts. Features like smart CRM, link-tracking, content marketing landing pages and chat features help convert casual social media users into interested brand prospects.
- Build relationships, not sales. All those social profiles are so tempting to today’s sales reps. You just want to get out there and sell them all! The key to social selling success, however, is to not talk about your products at all, instead building relationships with people who are interested in being educated on the topics your company addresses. For example, if you have a mobile software for accountants, don’t hammer them with speeds and feeds. Instead, help them become educated on the value of enabling anywhere-work for finance pros.
- Go door-to-door on LinkedIn. Door-to-door sales worked great in the early days because you engaged the consumer where they were, and today’s savvy business consumer is using LinkedIn as their new digital front door. Use your network connections to make introductions with target decision makers and strategically build relationships using education and camaraderie as your top two goals.
- Be a human being. Your social profile shouldn’t be your company all the time. To prove that you are a real person, strategically tweet, comment and share your personal (but professional) interests like hobbies, news stories, infographics and videos. This will build trust and help prospects build a relationship with you, not just your product.
- Don’t talk shop until they talk first. Using social media is all about being social, and pushing your sales agenda is like demanding someone’s credit score on the first date—date over! Talk about the things they’re interested in that coincide with your brand’s value. When they finally ask “Do you know what I can use to fix that problem?” introduce them (with finesse) to your product’s value.
- Continue the social relationship after the sale. We all know the sales rule that people buy from people they like, as long as the price is right. In this economy, full of cost pressures and competitors, it’s vital that social selling is not hit-and-run selling. To really build a solid pipeline for the next five years, dedicate as much time to your social interactions as you did before you closed the deal. In regular life, we never stop learning and researching. Neither does your prospect. But they might do it without you.
Just like your social media interactions with friends, mentors, great brands and thought leaders, prospects and customers want you to fit in these categories or they’ll click “unfriend.” Drive relationships, not sales. That’s what social media was built for, and that’s how smart sales reps are closing the deal.
To learn more about mastering social sales, download PGi’s free eBook, Join the Social Sales Revolution.