Social Selling and How to Do it Right

Social selling is nothing new, yet it remain incredibly under-utilized, especially for high-quality lead generation.

Here is how to sell on social, and to do it right:

What are some most common social selling mistakes?

These are the common mistakes: no plan for what they are trying to accomplish, unrealistic expectations about the return on investment, confusion about where marketing fits and where sales fits, using social platforms to crank out their traditional sales spam, not providing training to their people, no clear guidance for salespeople about how to represent the company online, no follow-up or accountability on the part of sales management to ensure that people are using the tools as intended in order to drive to the desired sales results.

These are a few of the common challenges. There are others, but they generally all lead back to not have clear vision of what needs to happen from the beginning.

I mentioned unrealistic expectations and along with that goes patience. I’m not sure why there is an expectation that if I jump on social media for a week the deals will come pouring in. Let me be the one to say that no, throwing up that LinkedIn profile doesn’t automatically guarantee that million dollar contract.

Just like traditional offline networking, prospecting and referral building, it is a process that needs to be worked in order to provide benefits. The great news is that the time invested online does in fact speed up the sales cycle IF you approach it in the right way.

Why do so many businesses get social selling wrong?

Sales management is under some serious pressure to generate revenue, so that pressure often leads to a transactional selling mind-set.

There is also a bit of stubbornness from salespeople, especially those that have been very successful. They are thinking that what they’ve done thus far worked, so why change. But in many cases, if you look carefully, you will see that the sales techniques of the past have far less effectiveness now.

Finally, I would say that many sales folks have some serious misunderstanding about how social media works for business. They see their kids’ texting or Facebooking all day and think that’s what social media is all about.

The biggest mistake of all is not making the time to learn how important social media is in general, but also how it is a critical investment that sales management needs to make in order to increase revenue, decrease sales cycle times and improve those deal win rates.

What can be done to do social selling right?

There’s a lot that can (and should) be done in order to sell on social.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Set up Cross-Team Collaboration

Social selling is likely to involve several teams, including your social media managers who maintain your channels, your sales people and even your customer support.

Social selling isn’t just about learning new technology, it really requires a shift in thinking about how to approach the process of sales in today’s evolved marketplace. Embracing collaborative approach to allow different teams (e.g. sales and social media management departments) to work together is the first step. Using a cloud-hosted PBX system can help you set up effective collaborative routine for your company:

Create social-media-friendly landing pages

This includes making your landing pages mobile-friendly, speeding up your site, possibly adding a video, as well as crafting the copy the way it captures a user’s attention right away.

To create am effective copy, use Text Optimizer, an intent optimization tool that helps you create content that matches users’ expectations:

Spend time to get to know your prospects

Writing up customer personas for your ideal leads will help your sales team to better relate to them. Encourage your sales people to research demographics, buying patterns and common decision making units.

There are multiple ways to do that, from surveying your current customers to looking at web analytics.

Seek Help from Influencers

When you have built your first connections, reach out and ask for help and intros. You wouldn’t believe how helpful people can be when you are friendly and authentic.

Nothing beats human connection. Plus people sell better than brands!

According to Maxwell Hertan of Megaphone Marketing,

Micro influencers are the way to go. Studies show that social media users expect influencers with over 100,000 followers to sell them stuff they may not be into themselves, so going for influencers with less than 50K who fit the interests of your target demographic gets you closer to the right (and hopefully higher converting) audiences.

How to identify the right social networks?

It goes back to your plan and target audience and the type of business that you are in. For example, people are SO worked up about Pinterest, which I love, by the way. But Pinterest works if you have a business that is more visually oriented and appeals to a specific type of market.

What I mean by that is that Pinterest is 90% women (in the US anyway) and the brands actually making money are those in home décor, anything to do with weddings, parties, family events, food/beverage, cars, etc. But if you are trying to reach the Chief Security Officer at a company, are you going to be using Pinterest to find them, talk to them and network with them? Probably not.

Before choosing any platform to invest time in, understand what is it designed to do and what market it specifically appeals too. My mantra is to go where your customers are likely to be.

And yet, are there any quick fixes for generating more leads or sales?

Actually, I don’t like the words “quick fix” but I can offer at least one LinkedIn technique that will speed things up for you right now. The caveat is that what I’m about to share with you will depend on the size and quality of your network and the LinkedIn groups that you subscribe to.

  • In LinkedIn, use “Advanced People Search”. Start by clicking on “advanced search” at the upper right of the navigation bar
  • Next, build your lead list. It can be based on title or keywords. Choose industry, break down by 10, 25, 35, 50, 75, 100 mile radius of your business zip code
  • Run the search based on first level, second level and groups. I don’t worry about third level, because it is tougher to reach those folks. And, here is where choosing the right groups (with your target buyer in them) that are also large in size helps your search results
  • After you set up your criteria, click on search and view your results
  • The most important thing to do now is to SAVE that list. With LinkedIn’s free version, you can save 3 separate lists. Why save? Because now, week to week, LinkedIn sends you a summary email with a list of all the new people joining your network (first, second or groups) during that week. You don’t have to keep searching over and over again for individuals. You get the technology to work for you
  • This weekly list becomes a vehicle for engaging with your prospects quickly. This tip alone will speed up the sales process for people using LinkedIn.

Social selling: In a nutshell

Social selling works but it takes a lot of time and adjusting. You need to focus on creating great content, and building high-quality connections, and it is never fast.

Featured image source: Pixabay