DigitalNews Today: Social Selling: A step-by-step Process for Winning Sales

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Social Selling: A step-by-step Process for Winning Sales

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Social selling is becoming one of the buzzwords to watch in the 2016 digital space as businesses of all size and structure struggles to jump on the social selling bandwagon in fear of missing out. Today, Social Media is no longer about being social, No. It has evolved and it's now also about social selling. 

Social selling is not just about pitching people on social media. It requires a comprehensive plan and deliberate strategies and tactics to deliver successful results. Potential investors, employees, partners, and customers are literally at your fingertips and it is up to you to build relationships and establish trust. And that is what social selling is all about.

Social selling is no longer optional for your business. It’s a powerful strategy that can help sell your ideas, establish credibility, secure funding, attract talent and win customers. 

Social selling is the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process. Today this often takes place via social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, but can take place either online or offline. 

Social selling is more about the audience than the product. It is a process that is time-consuming and based on looking at your leads as people first, and then as potential customers 

One of the great things about social selling is that it has become a good option for companies that are ready to take advantage of its ability to bridge the gap between sales and marketing departments. Since it’s an area where marketing will be active, if sales teams are open to the idea of selling on social media, they’ll also become more aligned with marketing’s overall strategy. 

With the increasing importance of content marketing in sales, those who neglect to implement their own social selling process will find themselves closing fewer deals than their more social-minded competitors. Social Selling in essence is a nurturing strategy with the great potential to yield impactful results and promising return on investments (ROI). 

I have compiled below from different sources, seven strategic social selling process that can be customized according to your sales objectives. 

Find and Identify Your Market - Develop personas because all your customers are different. 

No two customers are identical, even ones who buy the same product. Every customer will have a different motivation for making a purchase. They’ll also conduct their searches in varying manners and have differing price expectations. If you’re selling to companies, each one will have a different decision-maker and a distinct process for finalizing a sale. 

Find out where your customers are active. 

The key to fishing is following the fish. By the same token, in order to sell you need a customer, so your first social selling task is to discover where your potential customers are most active on social media. For many B2B products and services, LinkedIn is often the most active corner of the Internet because it’s viewed as the most “professional” social network. Contrary to popular belief, however, 90% of B2B companies are actively using Facebook. 

It can’t be stressed enough how important it is for you to be present where your customers are having conversations. Sometimes, the conversations are about you and if you aren’t active, not only will you be unaware of what’s being said, you’ll also be unable to respond! The customer is now in complete control of the conversation because they don’t need a company or its salespeople in order to gather information or even make a purchase. 

Getting a handle on where your customers might be having social conversations is actually fairly easy. Every major social media network has an advanced search feature that allows you to enter specific details about the kinds of people you’re looking for. From there, you can view profiles and discussions to determine whether you’re on the right track. There are also a variety of both paid and free discovery tools for each social platform, such as Followerwonk for Twitter. 

Gather Information A little listening goes a long way. 

The reasons why listening is a positive, respected practice are plenty. Getting a feel for a new group of people instead of trying to be the centre of attention is often more successful. A rookie athlete silently learning from veteran peers is a right of passage. And even the traditional sales tactic of letting the customer do the majority of the talking rings true in this case. 

Well, the same goes for social selling, especially in the beginning. Your customers are already having conversations so don’t interrupt them. Even if they’re talking about buying from your competitors, do you really think jumping in with, “HEY, BUY FROM US INSTEAD” is going to have the desired result? Most of the time, it’s just going to turn people off. Why not wait and observe. Maybe that particular customer will have a problem with your competitor's product, at which point you can join the conversation more subtlety and offer a solution instead of making a desperate last-ditch effort. 

The most important thing that listening to your potential customers accomplishes is the business intelligence you can gather. Whether it’s information on your competitors, the challenges and requirements of your customers or more details you can add to your personas, there’s a goldmine of intelligence floating around on social media. 

Make connections. 

The beauty of social media is that as far as topics are concerned, anything goes. Why not try to connect with people who you know are your potential customers on some other common ground? It’s not always going to work, but joining a conversation about a movie, a sport or a current event may very well lead to a sale down the road. And if not, it could lead to a cultivated relationship that ends up being a great source of referrals. Just like in life, the more people you know, the better. At the very least, social media provides an opportunity to move away from the hard sell, if that’s what you’re used to. 

Create the Content Your Audience Is Looking For - Where sales and marketing intersect. 

If you’re a bigger company, this is an area where it’d be a significant help if your sales and marketing teams could work together. Essentially, if these two departments are already aligned and integrated, this step will most likely already be complete! If your marketing team is on the ball, they’ll have fully developed personas and thus, content targeted at advancing each of these types of people along the buying funnel. By the same token, if the sales force is following along with the marketing process, they’ll have a full understanding of the various customer types and their challenges, requirements and questions. 

A small business is probably going to have its hands full creating a full slate of targeted content for customers, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to publish material. Companies with a blog generate 67% more leads per month so if you need help to get it done, it’s going to be worth your while. 

Two perspectives are better than one. 

It goes without saying that if sales and marketing teams can truly work together in complete harmony, your company is going to achieve a very high level of success. Instead of the buying funnel being broken down into two areas of responsibility - sales does this and marketing does that – the whole team can work together at every step. This process is ideal in every way, not the least of which is the two-way street of information that can help each group function at a higher level. For example, the sales team can inform the marketing department that a certain issue is often cropping up just before purchase, which can then be addressed in the content that marketing produces. Alternatively, marketing can alert the socially active sales team to extremely hot leads that pop up in response to content and social media marketing. It’s a win for both teams and, ultimately, your company. 

Become An Authoritative Thought Leader Be as helpful and insightful as you can. 

The goal of social media, whether it’s from a marketing or sales perspective, is to become a trusted authority. That means answering questions and providing information on as many topics related to your industry as possible. Put simply, if you’re more helpful on noticeably more occasions than other experts, your stock will begin to rise. Sometimes, it’s to your benefit to share content other than your own - in some cases even that of your competitors - if it’s the best way to provide value to a potential customer. Remember, social selling is about being active where your customers are most comfortable, not about pitching products and services at all costs. 

Once you become a trusted authority, you’ll start successfully entering a number of your potential clients’ spheres of influence, which is exactly where you want to be. You’ll have access to other likeminded people within more networks and be well on your way to establishing yourself as a thought leader and a go-to source of information. Over time, this enhanced status and the increased social reach that comes with it will undoubtedly help you generate more leads and close more sales. 

Keep creating great content. 

After establishing yourself as an industry expert, the key to maintaining that image is continuing to create great content. Whether you’re creating the content or depending on your marketing department to deliver the goods, it’s important that you have a steady stream of interesting and relevant content. Not only will consistent publication keep you top-of-mind for interested potential customers, it’ll also ensure that they always have fresh resources to depend on. 

Measure and Analyze Track engagement to gauge success. 

With social media, it’s pretty easy to get a sense of how you’re doing just by the number of responses and “engagements” you get (likes, retweets, followers, profile views). It won’t happen overnight (especially if you were paying attention since, for the first little while, you’re just supposed to listen) but eventually, if you’re interesting and helpful, you’ll start to get noticed. From there, you can track and measure how successful certain kinds of posts are, figure out what time of day generates the most engagement and all sorts of other little details that can help optimize your strategy. 

You should also be analyzing which content is proving most useful to buyers who are close to a purchase. That way you - or the marketing team - can put more time and energy toward creating the most relevant and effective content for this very important stage in the buying funnel. 

Measure results and assess quality of leads. 

Another aspect of your social selling process you should measure is the quality of the leads you’re getting. You can do this by keeping track of how many leads you generate from the social media pipeline and comparing it with how many of them ultimately become customers. However, you should also keep in mind that part of social selling is becoming an authority and making connections, which is a practice that can boost referrals. This means that you should be monitoring any positive outcome generated by your social presence, even if it’s just extra press or a shout-out from a noted influencer. 


Finally, always remember most importantly that this is a lead nurturing process that ultimately yields return and results as you progress.

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