Marketing and Sales have evolved. Gone are the days of pushing your product on to users and selling the benefits. Now are the times of creating relationships between your brand and your audience and providing more value than just the goods you are selling.
According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound Report in 2016, the top priorities for sales in 2017 is social selling. This is believed to help improve the efficiency of the sales funnel and reduce the length of the sales cycle.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling isn’t just posting product links on social networks. The heart of social sharing is about relationships.
What goes into relationships? Time, trust, empathy, questioning and understanding. So social sharing is ultimately using social media to build trust, show empathy, and provide answers to questions from your audience. Then, asking valuable and insightful questions to the audience, eventually leading to a sale.
One thing that is great with social selling, sales team can easily segment their audience based off of their needs and create targeted content. This is a great opportunity to generate more leads, provide value, and build trust that generates a long-lasting relationship between audience and brand.
How to Start Social Selling
Start With Yourself
Social selling is on social media, so make sure your profile is up-to-date and filled with information. Be sure that you are active on your social profiles as well, or at least on your main profiles. If you are not sure what profiles to create or what information to include, ask colleagues or find what other people in your role have put on their profiles.
Find Your Audience
Participate in Linkedin Groups or forums. Set up an social listening tool (Google alerts) to provide notifications of problems your audience is facing that you can quickly address in a blog or a social comment. Ask for referrals from mutual friends. Many of the social networks inform you of related connections or mutual friends, take advantage of those connections.
As I mentioned above; time, trust, empathy, questioning and understanding build relationships. Take your time to research your audience to help build that relationship. Social sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc) are great resources to use for research providing key information such as what is valuable to them, where they work, their extracurricular activities, just to name a few.
All this information will help when having a natural conversation with them.
After identifying and researching your audience, engage with them. Share content that you’ve or your team has created that may be valuable to them. This builds a common thread and allows your audience to be more open with you.
Invest Beyond the First Hello
After that first interaction, continue to interact with them by providing value and building that relationship. Don’t push for a sale yet. People want to work with someone that they know and trust. Nurture the relationship, this takes time and calls for being authentic at all times.
Keep a running record of your leads and relationship. Make use of a CRM or other tools, or if you have to a Google Sheet (not ideal though). Each time you meet someone and start a conversation, identify what works and what didn’t and use that insights to continue to grow your social selling strategy.