Let’s start this blog of with one very BIG fact…..
YOUR prospects and customers are on social media.
There will be very few industries now where businesses and decision makers are not on social media in some form. That may include Facebook, it may include LinkedIn, Twitter, SnapChat etc. They will be on social media and their buying decisions will be influenced from it.
Social media is a tool available for sales people, it’s sat right in front of you and yet so many people aren’t utilising it or aren’t using it right.
Remember if you’re not social selling, your competitors probably are.
Let me make one thing very clear, social selling is not replacement for any single sales activity. It is a tool that can be utilised at different parts of the sales process to compliment, enhance or modernise it.
One social selling blog to rule them all…..
I wanted to write a blog that covered the key essentials for anyone looking to utilise social selling. Unfortunately updating your profile or writing a blog doesn’t really count as social selling on its own so I want to try and help connect the dots to help anyone get started and generating business on social!
This blog will cover the essential steps to kick start social selling but it’s one of the biggest blogs I’ve written! If you can make it through I am super confident that by following these steps you will set up the best possible foundation for social selling success.
Let’s get started…..
To keep it simple I would recommend breaking down into 5 key sections:
- Personal Brand – This is a mixture of your profile and the tone you set for your content and engagement. A personal brand has the ability to give your customers reassurance that you are a credible resource in the industry.
- Network – This is your total audience and will consist of followers and connections. The way I look at it is the more fish in the sea, the more opportunities you’ll have to catch fish.
- Content – This includes content curated (shared) and content created by you. This is key in building and engaging your network.
- Conversation – The most important part of the process as this is where you will engage your prospects and work on progressing that conversation through the sales cycle.
- Research – The last core area of social selling is utilising social media networks to research your prospects and customers.
Whist there is a whole load of depth in social selling, in my opinion those are the core areas that sales people should start with. I would add that throughout all of those 5 core fundamentals it’s always important to remember what you are hoping to achieve. Social media can be very distracting and so it’s important to whilst not aggressively sell, always look for the right time to progress.
Let’s dig into the 5 core fundamental pillars:
For me this is by far the key first step in your social selling journey. If you are trying to do any of the other areas of social selling without having a solid profile and social presence you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. If your prospects are looking at your profile (which they will be) you need to think of one simple thing, will it encourage them to buy from me?
The first step should be your social profiles. This will include any social network that you wish to utilise for sales, at the very least LinkedIn but may also include Twitter and Facebook. Certain industries may also include other networks as well.
I’ve written a whole blog with my tips on how to create the perfect LinkedIn profile. This is a great place to start as you can use different parts for other social networks as well. Check it out here – How To Create The Ultimate LinkedIn Profile
Here are my profile top tips:
Photo – Most people have a smart phone with a very good camera. Find a nice blank wall and get one of your colleagues or friends to take a good picture.
Background – Check out Canva for free social background templates that allow you to customize and create perfect backgrounds.
Title – This will be one of the first things your prospect will see so think wisely about what you say and how it will make you look. A lot of people will use this to describe how they can help their customers or what they offer.
Summary – This is your opportunity to really showcase the value you offer. You can (and should) attach media such as documents and links and really showcase your passion and ability to help your prospects.
After this just work through all the other sections keeping them up to date and relevant. I would also highly recommend getting as many recommendations on your LinkedIn profile as well. The best ones will be from your past or current customers that really showcase how you’ve helped them.
Top Tip: Why not kill 2 birds with one stone and ask for a LinkedIn recommendation whilst asking for a referral?!
Once you’ve got a brilliant profile that you feel confident will help sell you now you can work on growing your network. As I mentioned at the start of this blog my view has always been that the more people in your network will offer more opportunities to sell. Remember that whilst a connection or follower may not DIRECTLY show the potential of being a customer, they are the doorway to their own network which will probably include plenty of potential prospects. By connecting with them you have the opportunity to access their network as well.
Connecting with a prospect is certainly not a replacement for a cold call, but it should be used as an alternative or something to enhance that process. You may find it difficult to reach a prospect on the phone so why not try on social media? If you have reached them via the phone then enhance the process and further the relationship by connecting online.
Here are my network top tips:
- Connect with anyone. As I mentioned whilst they may not be a customer directly, they may hold the key to potential customers.
- Customize your connection requests when applicable. Personally, I’m not fussed about a customized request, in face most of the time they’re customized with a sales pitch which puts me off if anything. My rule of thumb is that if they have less than 500 connections they’re probably quite picky about their audience (or they just don’t use it often!). In that case customizing it can help, but if they have a large network it usually means they’ll generally accept people without.
- Make an effort to grow your network every single day. Even if it was just 5 connections per day, that soon grows to 25 per week and 100 per month, then 1200 per year.
Top Tip – Add a link to your LinkedIn profile in your email signature. This way you’ll attract more views and enable your audience to grow.
So far you’ve got a killer social media profile and you’re taking steps to grow your social network. The next step is to then start sharing and creating content. This may include posts, status’s, blogs, videos, podcasts etc.
This ties in very strongly with your personal brand. In the same way that you are what you eat, on social media you are what you share! Your personal brand and content should be built FOR your prospects and customers. The content should be shared and created for them. The aim is to both show you as a trusted source but to also engage your prospects.
Curation – The first way of using content is to curate/share it. You can find great content all over social media and on the internet. I’d highly recommend following key industry pages, subscribe to news websites and any source of great industry relevant content. Every day you can check through, find a few good pieces and just click the social share icon.
Creation – Once you’re feeling confident it’s a great step to start creating your own content. I’d advise discussing this with your manager and company as sharing content will have an impact on the company you work for so you want to make sure you understand the rules and boundaries.
Here are my content top tips:
Share consistently – It’s important if you want to get the most out of this that you share content on a consistent basis. This will help ensure you’re at the front of your prospects mind and also adding as much value to them as possible.
Auto schedule – You’re working in sales so you should be super busy! You should be too busy to spend time each day sharing content, so auto schedule it in advance so that it can work for you whilst you work on other sales or social activities. Check out Hootsuite, it’s super easy to use and a great tool.
Consume as much as possible – The more content that you consume, the better content you’ll find and the better you’ll get at creating great content. Look out for those that do better than others, get more likes, comments and shares etc.
Share different forms of content – Keep your network engaged by sharing different forms of content. One day it might be an article, the next day a long form status, the next a video etc.
Top Tip – Use one singe idea or situation to create multiple pieces of content. For example the idea for a blog can also be used as a long form status, video, image and more.
Quickly recapping, so far we’ve got an awesome social profile, we’re growing our network and we’re sharing and creating content to build and engage our prospects. Now is the time to start talking to your prospects and working on those that are ready to be moved along the sales cycle.
Quick shout out to Kenny Madden who coined the great term “Social Phone”, referring to the powerful combination of social selling and phoning!
This can include engaging with them through content, sending instant messages or using it to structure a call or email or even a conversation at a networking event. The aim is to use your profile, content and network to start a sales conversation. This is where you should remember that you are a sales person and so should always be looking for ways to find prospects.
IMPORTANT – This isn’t always about selling. I see a lot of sales people sending sales type messages pitching their products or just asking for the business before any value has been offered or relationship built. Some communication will be relationship building and when the time is right it will then be to move it along.
Here are my conversation top tips –
Engage with your network – Liking and commenting on your prospects content is a great way to start a conversation. Think about how good you feel when someone “likes” your content?
Keep it light – This isn’t the ideal chance to start pitching your product. Keep it light and conversational. Ask them questions, offer them value, don’t talk to them as a customer or prospect but as someone within your industry.
Tag your prospects – Tag your prospects into content you think they would be interested in and ask for their opinion. This will be a great way to start a conversation and who your interest and knowledge in their industry.
Top Tip – Look at the list of people that “like” a post. That’s the perfect opportunity to start a conversation with each of them, some being potential customers. Pop them a quick message to thank them for liking it and asking what their thoughts were on it.
The last core fundamental is a very powerful one and that’s the ability to research your prospects and customers through social media. This goes way beyond being able to research a company through their website. Suddenly you can access an entire corporate structure, research what each person does, see what content their engaged with and find real time information on what is happening within a target company.
Sales in 2018 is a lot less about selling and a lot more about how you can identify and solve problems. Social media is a great tool in getting amazing insight into your prospects.
On some occasions that insight might allow you to identify a problem that you can solve, for example when people literally post “I’m looking to purchase X”! On other occasions you’ll be able to gather information that otherwise you would have had to gather through asking lots of qualifying questions. If you’ve already found that information on social media then you can focus on adding value and progressing.
Here are my top researching tips:
Use your CRM to map the company – Most CRM’s have the ability to include multiple contacts within one company account. This allows you to utilise social media to find out names and information on multiple contacts and decision makers.
Read their blogs and activity – You have the ability when looking at their profile to read blogs they’ve written and to go through their activity. This will include posts they’ve liked, shared or commented on.
Look at different social accounts – You’ll find different information on different accounts so for those prospects that you need to do thorough research on make sure you look at their Twitter and Facebook accounts for more insight.
Top Tip – DON’T call it stalking! I hear so many people say “Oh I wasn’t stalking you”. You don’t need to say it, call it research, it shows that you have taken the time to research them as you VALUE them. It’s the same as an interviewer asking if you’ve done any research on the job, it shows your value of it.
And there it is, the essentials of social selling!
I hope you’ve found this blog helpful. I’ve seen first-hand just how powerful social selling is and I’m keen to help as many sales people and sales teams leverage it as possible.
Quickly recapping, the fundamentals of social selling success start with your profile and personal brand. Then work on growing your network every single day. Once you’ve got that done then you can start curating and creating content. The next stage is to use all of that to start having conversations with your prospects and target customers. The end piece tying it all together is the ability to research.
Done right social selling can revolutionise the way you sell and improve how much you sell. It’s also a way of future proofing your sales as younger decision makers will only be using social media more and more.
Looking to learn how to get the most out of Social Selling? Daniel Disney, founder and owner of The Daily Sales and one of the world’s leading social selling experts is delivering his Social Selling Masterclass to businesses and sales teams around the globe. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.