Social selling. Sounds good, right? Millions of modern marketers from around the globe are discovering that they can use digital channels to reach their buyers online. Sounds simple, obvious really.
“We’ll use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook to post information and images about what we do and people will flock.”
But is it really that easy or is this a rerun of Field of Dreams?
‘Build it and they will come’ has never panned out online. We tried this with online communities and the internet is awash with digital litter of empty forums and unanswered questions.
Yet, we’re at it again, building social selling campaigns and pushing out images and information in the hopes someone will come see it.
Let me remind you, this approach does not work.
Marketing and sales need to flip the megaphone around in order to fully listen and respond from a place of genuine helpfulness and thought leadership. This builds trust, and creates the foundation for the relationships at the heart of purchase decisions.
“But who has time for trust building?” Asks the sales professional who is under pressure to perform.
Filling the pipeline is all that matters when you’re feet are to the fire with a sales quota, right?
A recent study by Kitedesk of 524 sales executives found that those who are skilled in digital relationship building are 6x more likely to exceed their sales quotas than those who don’t interact online. Forbes wrote about the study here, and if you are a data geek like me, you can download the full report here.
How we listen, respond and interact matters the most.
Only a few firms truly understand and embrace the foundations of social selling. The ones that do are pulling up a chair to the sales table ready to listen and engage. They’re the pioneers who are hearing the buyers’ needs, understanding their concerns and advancing their relationships with those that are interested in learning.
What they all have in common is that they listen more than they talk. Here’s some tips on how they go about it.
1) Share useful content – This doesn’t mean retweeting like crazy, but taking the time to curate high quality information, and comment on why you think it is special.
2) Share “intelligence” – Including market buzz and insights on the industry. In this fast moving world, it’s almost impossible to keep up. By keeping your finger on the pulse, people will look to you for what’s happening.
3) Start a conversation – You can, and should, talk to people online. Comment, compliment and query. People are very approachable online – sometimes even more so than in person.
4) Offer advice – When you see someone sharing a problem, jump in with help or an idea. Gratitude is a powerful emotion and you will have done a good deed.
5) Ask for advice – Tap into your intended audience’s know-how and help them shine. Not only will this signal that you value them, but you may also learn something along the way.
6) Collaborate with a customer – Model your collaborative spirit online while showcasing your customers. You model good behavior and positive customer relationships for all to see.
7) Provide customer support – Helping a customer is always a high-return activity. Share what you know, solve a point of pain or bring in the right people to cater to a need.
8) Co-innovate new solutions – Gather a few thinkers on a key topic and “ideate” online. You never know where a mini crowd-sourced brainstorm may take you (and be sure to share the information with your firm so they can use it too.)
Just remember, quality trumps quantity.
You may think the measure of social media success is how many times you post or tweet. The numbers are not important – but the quality of your content, and your audience, is critical. You don’t need to send a huge volume of tweets to a huge number of followers who’ll never buy your products or services.
To succeed at social selling, to get the right crowd to your field of dreams, focus on the relationship: listen, be useful, build trust.
How do you use social to engage?
Thumbnail image via Shutterstock