Selling is hard. The challenges sellers face every day are daunting. Pressures from managers notwithstanding, we're also up against clients who are tired of old-fashioned sales techniques, often know more about our solutions than we do and are using technology to avoid us.
While a more informed customer isn't bad, it has made them less responsive because they're doing significant research before calling a sales rep. According to CEB, buyers now are 60 percent of the way through the buying process before engaging with a salesperson.
There is a better way to sales success, and it's called social selling. It's not making digital small talk. Rather, it's engaging with your prospect directly, on their terms, and then positioning yourself as someone of value. The social media landscape also provides tremendous intelligence on our prospects and clients since they're already sharing everything - their likes, dislikes, problems and celebrations.
Your clients buy from you because they trust you understand both their business and the problems they are trying to solve. And by social selling, you become, in your client's eyes, the "best salesperson". And what client doesn't want to deal with the best?
Only social sellers stand a chance by building their personal brand, connecting with more prospects and using technology to close deals faster.
Although we'll focus on LinkedIn in this post, you could also use Twitter to manage your sales funnel.
Here are the four steps to social selling mastery, as applied to the leading B2B platform, LinkedIn:
Achieve 100% completeness of your profile. A professional photo is a must.
Build your network. Connect with and follow peers, co-workers, clients (all both current and former). There are the connections who can endorse your abilities, make referrals and share information.
Continue to build connections on a regular basis.
Like, comment and share. Comment on things others share. Like posts you read.
Share informative articles, blog posts and other media directly with your connections. Think of yourself as an information concierge, curating and sharing relevant information, rather than going for a hard sell or boasting. Show people you care.
Gather intelligence and find new leads.
Researching, organizing and mining user-generated content to learn more about those you sell to sets you apart from your competitors.
Social selling creates win-win scenarios for both buyers and sellers.
It doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't replace sales skills. You can use the technology - but don't hide behind it. Face-to-face was the original form of social selling.
Dale Carnegie once said "you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you."
I'd argue that with social selling, you'll make more connections, more referrals and more sales by following the steps above. Work hard and stay social!
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* Lead image adapted from smi23le