If you are a salesperson then you cannot have missed the newest trend in getting your product in front of clients: social selling. It’s difficult to pin this term down because it encompasses so many social media platforms. You can use Facebook, Linkedin, Snapchat, Whatsapp and many more to sell which begs the question of – how can you give sweeping advice on getting better at social selling?
The answer is similar to that of its sister question of how to create effective salespeople in general. That can be discussed in-depth within another article but briefly, it is that you have to focus on the fundamentals. Listening, questioning, curiosity and offering real value is what makes a great salesperson – certainly not closing tactics, pressure tactics and boiler room strategies. It’s no different for social selling.
In order to get better at social selling, you need to focus on the fundamentals and have a mindset shift from an old school sales mentally to something akin to a marketeers mindset. These are the detailed strategies that I have outlined in order to push you away from a sales mentality that may work on the phone and over email and one that will work for social selling.
A quick side note: do not lose your hard-won sales skills that have made you success over the phone and on email. I’m not advocating that you switch all your time and sales skills over to social selling 100% I’m simply saying that you incorporate these tactics into your everyday activity.
Linking to relevant articles and content
The easiest thing to do is to use your social media channels to link to relevant articles that will provide value for your clients.
For example, you’ve read an article from a reputable publisher which is a market research piece that your clients would find interest. If you’re a real estate broker then you may have read a research piece from the “Association of Real Estate Professionals” on “The growing number of Millenials with disposable income to save for house buying.” The easiest thing to start social selling is to start sharing links to these helpful articles daily on your work profiles. That may be Linkedin, Facebook, Snapchat or Whatsapp. The publishers have done all the hard work for you and people appreciate it when you bring quality content to their attention.
Just make sure that you consistently use your profile for work purposes. People don’t want to follow you thinking that you’re going to post professional material and then find that in the evenings you upload videos of your cat playing with a tortoise.
If you’re a good salesperson then you should be getting daily updates from relevant publications straight through to your email inbox. To start social selling…. why not just share a daily article that you find interesting?
Often salespeople forget that because they live and breath their product every day they are experts in their industry. Some are certainly not but I’m talking about the decent sales professionals. In order to be an effective seller, one has to be engaged with market changes & fluctuations, mergers & acquisitions, newly developed products and up-and-coming players in the industry. The very best salespeople are reading the weekly magazines that discuss their industry, they’re reading forum posts and they attend high-level conferences and relevant events.
If you are one of those top-level sellers then why not write an article? It can be easily done on Linkedin by clicking the article section or try to get on a relevant industry blog. If you really want to go all-out then negotiate a place on a podcast or get a publisher to write a feature on you.
The point is that creating content is such a great way of getting the attention of your clients in a non-pushy way. That’s the essence of social selling – getting attention without seeming like you’re trying to cram the sale down their throat. If you do decide to do this you will probably be surprised at the reaction. Clients are aware of the fact that you know a lot about the industry that they’re active in – so why wouldn’t they want to hear your opinion?
Increasing the number of people in your network
It’s an easy one to gloss over but you need to increase the pool of people that you have within your network. This is relevant for any social media site but especially wide-ranging ones like Facebook or Linkedin. As well as linking to quality content and writing content (if you chose to do that) set aside some time to research relevant people to add and follow.
Often the social media site will suggest this and have a section of “relevant” people that could be added to your network. This is important to do because once you start consistently putting content out there then the next challenge is getting it in front of a wider audience.
I had a scenario the other day when I saw that a client, that I had been chasing for months, was attending a conference about 20 minutes away from my office. They had put up a picture of a stand that they had rented and built for the conference and had made a post about how great the first day was.
Now, I had been calling this guy for months and he wasn’t replying to my emails or acknowledging my existence. Every fiber of my being wanted to comment below their post saying “why have you been ignoring me?” Needless to say, that is not what I commented.
I took my own advice and added a non-sales comment which was “the stand looks great, I’ll be there tomorrow so looking forward to it.” Funnily enough, the company replied to me saying “come by and say hi.” So I visited him on the stand and managed to progress the sale.
What is the point in this story? It’s that if you engage in a non-sales way on social media sites then people are more likely to let their guard down and interact with you. You’re not going to close a six-figure deal by utilizing these tactics but even if it improves your selling by 1% then it’s worth it.
Helpful comments, advice or feedback
This is a sub-section of the previous point but there is nothing wrong with active comments on social media as long as they’re appropriate for a professional setting.
If you see that one of your clients is leaving their job and jumping to a competitor then there’s nothing wrong with messaging them directly or commenting on their post to congratulate them.
If you notice that one of your clients has published a post on their new product then there is nothing wrong with you suggesting that they shout about it.
The thread that is running through all of these points is that there is a mindset shift from traditional selling when you’re dealing with social media. There is much more emphasis on sharing helpful content, producing content and commenting on the content in a professional manner. As mentioned, it’s not going to get you the six-figure sales but it will give you a presence in the industry and opportunities to progress sales when your traditional methods start failing.