Some businesses have yet to realise it, but social media is proving to be a boon for sales of all types. In ways never before considered possible, sales teams are exponentially expanding their networks, and qualifying and converting prospects via their activities on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.
Recent social selling statistics indicate:
- 72.6% of salespeople employing social selling techniques outperform their sales peers
- 46% of social sellers reach sales quotas, compared to 38% of sales reps who do not use social selling
- Salespeople who include social selling as part of their sales arsenal surpass quota 32% more often
If your sales team hasn’t incorporated social selling in their sales arsenal, the time to start is now. Here are a few tips:
Update your social media profiles
Think of your social media profile as the equivalent of a handshake and an elevator pitch in the 'real world.' On LinkedIn and elsewhere, your image must be professional (no photos of you kicking back at happy hour, please!), while also appearing friendly and approachable. Craft a bio that’s long on your track record of problem solving and short on meaningless phrases like 'outstanding service.'
'Keep in mind that unless you position yourself as someone who can help them, a prospect has no reason to listen to anything you say,' writes sales expert Leslie Ye.
The type of social selling activities you engage in can either appear frivolous or help establish your credibility as a valued resource in your industry. Before embarking on a social media approach, carefully think through the ways in which you hope to interact with peers, prospects, industry influencers and others. Trust and credibility are the gold standards in this arena.
Start the search for prospects
Industry-specific LinkedIn groups are a great place to find leads. Research individuals who take part in these groups or study an individual’s profile page and follow his/her group participation from there.
On Twitter, prospective clients engage in conversations based around industry-specific hashtags. Participate in those conversations and start forming relationships there.
Share comments and information of value
LinkedIn’s publishing tool enables individuals to post original articles and share them with their networks — a great way to build credibility as an expert in your field. Ask your connections to share these articles with others in their networks. Then ask for names of people you can invite to join your network. Be generous with endorsements of those you know and trust, and don’t be shy about requesting endorsements from them.
Play the long game
In general, social selling doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the result of consistent and engaged activity over time. Content strategist Aubre Andrus urges sales reps to “pay attention to and respond to what others are sharing and saying.” Don’t let a day go by without “leaving comments or ‘Liking’ posts from others.” Such ongoing involvement fosters a sense of engagement and fellowship in the groups you join.
It’s easy to stay on top of events in your field by setting up a Google Alert. This way, you’re positioned to share 'breaking news' about new funding, key industry job promotions, new product launches, etc., with others in your social networks. When prospects receive helpful information like this, they look to you as a trusted resource and become more receptive to your artful, well-timed sales proposals.
Don’t rely on social selling alone
A thriving, respected social media presence can generate leads and open the door to potential sales, but it’s best viewed as part of a broader sales strategy. When you make a significant connection, always follow up with a phone call or email message to move things along. Ask for permission to send helpful articles and/or company data that address the prospect’s needs and challenges. If the response is positive, then arrange for that all-important sales appointment.
Social media is a place to connect, but not to go with a hard sell. However, without connections, what chance is there to actually make a sale?
By Geoff Winthrop serves as Executive Vice President and Partner at Acquirent, LLC. Geoff brings a background in new business development, sales management and strategy to Acquirent and its clients. Today, he is involved in building and managing many of Acquirent’s client accounts.