“According to Wikipedia: Social selling is when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.”
Imagine this scenario: It’s shopping time and you are off to the mall. You don’t have a particular need in mind, just browsing for some retail therapy. You stop at your favorite retail store. There is a gathering of people chatting to a sales person. You join in and learn about the product being sold. Discussions are lively, there is engagement. Tips are exchanged. And best of all you are enjoying yourself!
Fine, but how does that relate to Social Selling?
Social selling is what you just did at the mall but virtually. Your smartphone and your iPad are now shopping devices. Marketers have already taken notice. They are turning their social media channels and websites into e-commerce stores ready for selling. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat are online stores and customer service platforms.
Corporations are now training their sales force to connect and communicate via social media. It has been a boon for a busy sales rep that can now make connections from his desk without having to leave the office.
How do I get my brand ready for Social Selling?
Social selling relies on a tight partnership with your marketing department. It requires both strategy, coordination, and execution. Both sales and marketing departments must get close and personal to form a synergy.
Once you have chosen a strategy and direction for your brand message, you need to consider the following:
How are you going to connect?
Discuss which platform works for your organization. If you are B2B, then Google+ and Linkedin are ideal for business connections. I would also explore messenger apps like Whatsapp.
B2C businesses have commercial and visual options like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat to tell a compelling “show and tell” sales story.
Here are some social selling examples:
LinkedIn: Write articles for Pulse and showcase your knowledge. I wrote this article, “Refining Your Sales Pitch with A Flipboard Magazine!” as an example. It also helps to participate in relevant group conversations and connect with other LinkedIn users. It’s amazing how many people are willing to exchange conversations and will recommend you.
Whatsapp: This private messenger has become very popular with group texts; it is also widely used internationally. A private message always makes connecting more personal and therefore a better way to close a sale. I would use all private messenger apps with caution if you are selling. I limit my sales recommendations only to friends that I know are interested in what I have to sell.
Twitter: My favorite all time social selling tool! You can participate in Twitter parties and showcase your products and services. Many brands like @BufferApp (#Bufferchat) and @CornerBakery (#Cravechat) use this very successfully. They create conversations around they branded product. I can’t tell you how many times I have used Buffer because of this chat.
Snapchat: Again a very personal way to connect with a prospect by sending fun messages that last 10 seconds. It targets a young audience and it’s ideal to push out visual promotions. If I meet someone virtually that can be a potential lead. I always send them a quick snap to introduce myself. It’s a quick ice breaker.
Facebook/Instagram: This is my platform of choice for ads and promotions. Advertising is social selling. It’s the best way to push people to buy your products and to assist your sales team. You can also measure ROI for your campaigns.
Pinterest/Flipboard/Instagram: Visual candy, catalogs, show and tell comes to mind with these three apps. They allow you to create “scenarios” for your products and services thus showing live usage. We use these to offer suggestions and tips for product and service usage. Shoppers can easily see how brands can be integrated into daily life.
Influencers: I can’t begin to stress how important an influencer’s role is in the social selling space. An influencer (i.e. mom blogger, spokesperson, brand ambassador) can actually close a sale based on their social network following or readership. They have ready-made trusted audiences which they have nurtured over the years. I recommend looking at influencers that are just getting started with a small loyal following. They tend to be good at social selling.
Monitoring social media engagement: A query or a concern can quickly turn into a sales opportunity. That’s why it is so important to monitor social engagement. Have a person in charge of answering these concerns and report to your sales team. Have answers ready and virtual sales hotlines for fast responses.
Selling is where it’s at!
Turning all of the above into an opportunity.
As you manage your social channels, you will get a good sense of what your customers are looking for or want. You can connect with them and build relationships through social media. If you build a comfort level with them, they will trust you and make it more likely to close a sale. Consumers would rather buy from someone they know or have been recommended.