Are you listening?
When social networks were hijacked and turned into media channels by marketers, the more savvy of them realised that a different kind of marketing was needed. Some learned, some didn’t, hey ho.
The same thing is happening with sales – except that social networking is now a mature business activity and the tools that have been designed to aid the sales process are sophisticated and very effective.
While I believe wholeheartedly that no-body joins a social network to be sold to, it doesn’t mean that social networks aren’t a good place to find people who want to buy from you.
The thing that social selling most definitely is NOT is broadcasting sales messages as in “20% off! Buy now!”
Listening is an essential sales skill
Ask what makes a good sales person and the unequivocal answer is “be a good listener”. Now, the listening happens on-line.
Where once a potential customer would ask their social group (in the pub, the gym, at the school gate or the dog training class) for recommendations for whatever they were interested in buying, these days they use their social networks – where we, the sellers, can listen in on the conversations using simple tools like Google alerts and Hootsuite.
Just like eavesdropping in the pub, you don’t jump in to somebody else’s conversation with a sales pitch, but hopefully, you’ll already have a good reputation and relationships with people who can recommend you and the potential customer will start to check you out.
They’ll want to see that your social networking accounts show that you understand their needs and their values.
They’ll check out the way you talk to people, the way you interact with existing customers and, especially, how you handle complaints.
Meanwhile, you’ve added their details to your CRM system (any CRM is better than none but ask if you need a recommendation!) From there you follow them on their social networks. On Twitter you can do this without being obvious by adding them to a list rather than simply following. For B2B sales you can check out their LinkedIn profile and see which groups they are members of and start to interact without having to be a direct connection.
Every good sales person does a lot of research before meeting a prospect but creating rapport could sometimes be a challenge before actually getting face to face. Not so now. With social networks you’ve probably already had several interactions and built a relationship before you get face to face.
You’ll certainly know:
Not just the size but the culture of their business
Their beliefs and values
Their interests and activities
Their attitude to their customers
What contacts you have in common
What’s happening in their world – both personal and business
What specific problem your service or product could solve
A LOT about their competitors
Marketing isn’t enough
Small businesses often shy away from selling from a fear of seeming pushy and instead, spend disproportionate amounts of time and money on marketing without following up on opportunities. The thing that makes a BIG difference to your bottom line is learning how to sell. With social selling the pushy pitch is redundant because the conversation is all about the prospect.
The tools that have been developed to help businesses take advantage of the phenomena of social networking are a sales person’s best friend and many of them are free and easy to use – certainly easier and more effective than cold calling!
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If you’d like to talk to me about how to grow your business you can email me to get the conversation started.