The promise of never having to make a cold call again is pretty enticing.
If you’re in sales of any sort, then you know that making cold calls is one of the worst parts of the job for most people. Calling or emailing people out of the blue to pitch them something––especially when you don’t know them––is difficult.
Social selling is a tool that sales professionals use to establish trust and rapport through existing networks and connections, target their prospecting activities incredibly well, and often get rid of cold calls altogether.
And even more impressive is that sales professionals who use social selling with their sales processes are doing much better than those who don’t use social selling. We’ll go into those numbers in a minute.
But first, let’s define what social selling is not.
A lot of times when I say the words “social selling” people think I mean social media marketing or social media advertising. Social selling is neither of these things.
While social media marketing and social media advertising both involve the use of social media platforms to get sales and followers, social selling is more about building relationships.
The stats—social selling increases sales.
When you master social selling in your business, the likelihood is that you’ll increase sales. According to LinkedIn, 76 percent of buyers are ready to connect with sellers through conversation over social media channels.
And that percentage goes up even higher––to 92 percent––when you’re an industry thought leader. The reputation of being an industry thought leader is something you can establish by hosting relevant and thoughtful content consistently on social media.
How to Use Social Selling in Your Business
Automation vs. Showing Up
A lot of people are tempted to take shortcuts when they first discover social selling. There are places where you can automate, as well as places where you should never automate.
Automation is great for developing a reputation as a thought leader by posting regular content to your social media platforms––especially LinkedIn. You can use one of the many automation platforms help you manage and post content on a regular basis, but you should never automate your interactions with real people.
The problem is that automated like and commenting tools don’t build relationships. People don’t like to be treated like robots.
Instead, engage, interact, and show up. You want to make yourself seem approachable and human.
Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles
When you’re writing your profiles for your social media platforms, make sure that you’re looking at them from the point of view of your customer. Ask yourself, “What does my customer want?” Then make sure that you are answering that question in your social media profiles.
Tailor your profiles to present yourself in the best possible way. And make sure your profiles are consistent across all social media channels.
The Fine Art of Listening
There’s never been a better time in the history of business to sell stuff. Your customers are telling you exactly what they need and exactly what they want every day across social media channels. If you take the time to listen, then you may be surprised what you find.
You can even find out what people are saying about you directly using tools like HootSuite Streams.
Pay attention to where people are having trouble with your product or services, as well as to what they want in the marketplace.
When you’re reaching out to new contacts for the first time be sure to take a look at their contact list to see if there are any mutual connections between you. Also, be sure to create a customized outreach that will allow you to mention a blog post or an interest you share.
It’s important to remember that social media is not a place to pitch all the time. You don’t want to come across like a three-year-old during a temper tantrum at the grocery store.
The main idea is to contribute valuable information that can help create your authority as an expert in the field that you’re in. The easiest way to do this is to write posts and share posts that are relevant to your field.
The idea here is to not go for the sale on the first contact, but to establish yourself as an authority that people trust.
People Still Do Business With People They Trust
When you contribute, you gain trust.
Be sure to pay attention and stay in touch over time. If somebody posts a question, then try to post a helpful answer. It doesn’t have to be directly related to the product that you represent.
The idea here is to establish yourself as a go-to person within your industry.
Don’t forget liking and commenting on smart things they say as well. By developing relationships where people trust you, you’ll find that they often contact you when they’re ready to buy.
Platforms for Social Selling
There are several platforms for social selling with LinkedIn being the most popular. You can also use Facebook and Twitter, but LinkedIn is the powerhouse in this area. This is especially true if you’re in the business-to-business selling space.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when building a profile for LinkedIn, especially when you want to start leveraging social selling techniques, is that you should design your profile so that your expertise is relevant to your potential customers, instead of being relevant to a potential employer.
A good idea is to showcase your skills in a way that shows how your customers have reached their goals with your help.
With LinkedIn, it’s important to maintain good relationships. Because these relationships become future referrals.
Another great feature of LinkedIn is the Groups feature. Groups allow you to join professional associations within LinkedIn to be able to find new people to network with.
If you’re not social selling now make sure you incorporate it in your strategy
If you have high ticket products or are in the business-to-business space, then social selling is one of the best ways to sell your products. It allows you to develop the prerequisite relationships you need before you make a pitch.
And it can even eliminate the need for cold calling! Which is wonderful, because cold calling stinks.
You also find that as you develop this pipeline, that it’s often easier to get new business than you ever thought possible. Social selling is here to stay, so it’s time to develop your skills.