Winning at Social Selling – Brand, Tactics and Execution

As someone who simply adopted the discipline early, I now get questions from all over the globe about “social selling”.

It’s interesting because the term or concept itself doesn’t seem that alien. After all, sales as a profession has always been social by nature; building relationships, gaining trust and engaging other, often different, people.

Over the past 10 years or so though, social media has changed the game. We have become global communicators and we all have something to say. The question is, how do we make customers and potential customers listen and how do we make sure our messages are valuable and compelling?

Let’s look at 3 key ways we can create a winning social presence as a seller.

1. Brand Marketing

In the grand scheme of things, social selling from a brand perspective has simply become real time, word of mouth feedback – about you, your company and their products and services. This used to be a facet of social CRM, but we’ve come to a time, like Paul Greenberg said, where social is just part of managing customer relationships – and it’s here to stay.

When you can, try and influence what your customers say about you – get endorsed and recommended for what you do well and respond positively and quickly to any questions thrown your way.

Be specific if you want to be associated with a certain industry or company – follow them. Listening in social selling is just as important as it is in conventional sales.  In fact from this point let us be clear that selling online requires the same discipline, tact and ability that selling does offline.

Sharing or liking industry related content is a sure-fire way for buyers to better understand your brand purpose.  You can build on this further by creating your own content through blogs, videos and photos associated with your area of expertise. This evangelizing, when done in a balanced and measured manner, is a significant contributor to building a social brand.

2. The Right Tactics

The adoption of the ‘shock and awe’ as a tactic is not advised without warning.

This tactic is designed for high and instant impact, but is also notorious for delivering short-term gain as popularity and notoriety become blurred.

From the content side, you become quickly associated with what you share and post online. Weaker social sellers will naturally gravitate towards sharing content about their company and their products – being incredibly feature-rich.

The way to differentiate yourself is to take these opportunities to lend your thoughts to industry challenges and competitive market trends.  Here, you can couple commercial insight with the associated benefits you offer.

This tactic is about offering utility and value and is not only a masterful way to target the right audience in a compelling way – but also to assess your own content. Think, “Will my customers read it and take something from it?”

3. How To Execute

Relationships are key to the success of social selling. In this sense, it is imperative to build a meaningful network. Leveraging your network is one of the best ways to engage prospects; the success of social selling is completely dependent on it.

If opening doors is the most difficult part of your sales process, then social selling is the key.

The other aspect to utilizing your network is research.  Buyers are so sophisticated now with the way they use social media to research people, organizations and products, that we, as sellers, have no other option but to do the same.

Before you engage with a prospect you should not only find your mutual connections– but you should also discover what common ground exists. Learn how you can engage them in a compelling way based on personal interests, organizations and content they show interest in that you have a level of expertise on.

Lisa Orell at Promote U Guru sums this up beautifully by saying: “It’s no longer who you know but what you know about who you know.”

“It’s no longer who you know but what you know about who you know.” Tweet

 

Embracing social selling is about investing in your success for the now and the future. Social selling isn’t a divergence from traditional selling; rather so, it’s an evolutionary step forward whereby the skills necessary to succeed remain consistent.

If you plan and prepare a consistent compelling message to engage prospects, understand their needs through well thought out questions and offer valuable insight against this, you will quickly find yourself developing a brand as a social, trusted advisor.

You will become a useful and valuable connection to your meaningful network and others will ‘like’ you for it… most importantly, your pipeline will probably like you too.

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  • Peter Strohkorb

    Hi John,
    Your words are well put indeed. I also agree that the term ‘social selling’ is misleading as it really seems more about generating awareness and leads via social media while prospects are in the fact-finding phase of their buyers’ journey than it is about closing a deal via social media.

    What do others think ?