By Mike Stiles on Apr 26, 2013
Social selling has all but done away with the image of poor Willy Loman, the guys of Glengarry Glenn Ross, or the door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who cleans everyone’s carpets for free then doesn’t get a sale. Those guys were cold callers who didn’t know their prospects. Didn’t even know they weren’t prospects at all.
But even the most veteran salespeople will tell you relationships are what usually get the deal closed. So it’s mighty convenient that social is all about connecting and fostering relationships. How senseless not to use social to do just that with customers and prospects, or not to use social to know as much about buyers as possible.
Ta-da! Marketing automation + social data + social listening & engagement is ready to rock your monthly billings. CSO Insights found “effective use of sales intelligence increases revenue productivity per sales rep by 17%.” Social is a fountain of sales intelligence, and there are 4 steps to positioning yourself for that kind of win.
1. Be a good, active social citizen
Would you buy sunglasses from a longtime personal contact on Facebook or someone that randomly pinged you solely for the purpose of selling you sunglasses? People buy from people they know.
- Get to know prospects by being on the networks they favor.
- Be part of the groups they’re in, sharing content of real and relevant value to that group.
- Be consistent, perpetually growing your network so your own fans and rave reviewers will be there to legitimize you.
- Make sure all your social profiles are accurate and transparent so prospects can research you.
- Make sure your contact info is on all your profiles so prospects can reach you.
- Don’t be constantly pitching your product to every eye that can see you.
2. Listen and learn
Do they teach in sales school that often, the fastest path to a deal is to just shut up and listen? If not, they should. Listening to your prospects’ conversations reveal issues you can step in and resolve. You won’t be a pest, you’ll be a hero.
- Honest, it’s not stalking. Be aware of what your prospects are thinking and talking about.
- Look for indications in their social posts that signal they may need your solution.
- Use the keywords in your social listening platform (you do have one, right?) to get alerted whenever a prospect is experiencing a pain point.
- Use that same platform to keep an eye on multiple social networks at once so you can seize all such opportunities in real time.
- With social listening, insert yourself into the buyer’s current stream of thought as opposed to trying direct their stream of though to what you want.
3. Engage at the right time, in the right way
You’re not cold calling, which is a time burner anyway. According to InsideView, over 90% of CEO’s said they never respond to cold emails or calls. Instead, you’re approaching the buyer due to their publicly expressed problem.
- Craft your social relationship so you’re not seen as a vendor, but as a trusted advisor. Invest the time to foster that image.
- Connection rates through LinkedIn are 7 times greater than email. Their InMail yields an open rate often over 20%. Connect in ways they trust and are comfortable with.
- Studies show it can take an average of 6.2 email/phone/voicemail exchanges and 9 business days to set up a meeting. Social tools can reduce the friction.
- Engage buyers early in their search for a solution. They do a lot of research on social, so if you’re listening, you can be the first to solve their problem.
- Connect prospects to others who’ve used your solution to positive effect. It’s greatly reassuring, and studies show social users trust peers with no vested interest much more than brands.
- Make sure your solution is clear, that it’s about them and their immediate needs, and that you’re making them confident enough to take the desired action.
4. Use data to apply what you learn, enterprise-wide
There are few things sadder than really great customer insight, much of it gleaned from social, sitting unapplied to all of the customer touch points across the enterprise, including sales.
- Absorb integrated data so consumer preferences and behavior can be predicted, and the effectiveness of sales approaches and channels can be adjusted.
- Understand that social affords you real time info that’s squandered if real time responses aren’t a part of the strategy.
- Marketing automation technology is driving the convergence of sales and marketing. Marketers must be sellers, meaning leads and sales get added to awareness on the marketer’s to-do list.
- In “Successful Social Selling,” Matt Heinz reminds us the goal is to get qualified prospects, not followers. That calls for different metrics to gauge the success of social selling.
- Integrated marketing/sales approaches help track how effective marketing campaigns are across varying media such as mail, email and social.
- A holistic approach such as the Oracle/Eloqua combo that activates all data and generates deep-dive analytics will pull marketing closer to sales and every other department across the enterprise, so the insight can enable superior customer experiences across all channels.
Much has been written about the growing critical nature of the customer experience. Keeping in mind prospects approached via social are part of that customer experience imperative will encourage A-game social sellers to demand the tech tools to listen to and engage potential customers more effectively.