The minute you mention social selling you have the attention of your business audience. There are generally those who are interested in exploring all the opportunities social media has on offer, including social selling, and those that seem to be unable to get their head around the idea of using social media to support their sales process. Either way, you’ll have the attention of your business audience on this topic.
Before you embark on a proactive social selling effort, the key word here being, proactive, there are a number of important factors to consider. In the coming weeks I will discuss each of these, including the bonus tip separately.
1. Develop a clearly defined social sales strategy
Your first step is to ensure you have a clear social sales strategy that is aligned with the rest of your integrated digital marketing communications. It is imperative in social media business communications that your marketing message is consistent across these channels. You will be interested in which conversations to target, who will action these conversations, how will this process work, how to engage with prospects, what success will look like, how will you measure success (KPI’s), linking up your efforts with other sales activity and so on.
2. Use a suitable Social Media tracking tool to access any opportunity:
If you are interested in social selling my advice would be to invest in a good social media tracking and monitoring solution. These solutions allow you to build a query (search terms) and apply a set of tags (filters) that allow you to track conversations across the social web that would be of interest to your sales team or community manager. Usually the system will allow for a workflow process that will enable you to direct the conversations, posts and comments to the right individual to take action. Twitter specifically is a wonderful platform to support your social sales efforts so ensure you go for a tool that has access to the Twitter Firehose giving you a hundred percent access to all Twitter mentions – you don’t want to miss any opportunities to engage.
3. It’s all about conversation:
Don’t be aggressive, it’s all about having a conversation and building rapport. The number one reason why there is reluctance to embark on social selling, relates to a concern that the effort will be met with hostility and damage your brand efforts. Remember every engagement, with every person, every time, is a reflection on your brand. Try and be subtle in your approach but work for it and put the necessary effort in.
4. Link your social efforts up with other sales channels:
I’m a big fan of the concept of Channel Linking. Try and think outside the box. Here is an example – if you have an existing sales team using traditional channels or more modern customer communication channels such as live chat on your website, you want to make sure you drive traffic to the desired location on your website to complete the sales process while engaging across the social web. Not all customers will be happy to engage until the end with you on social media. Deploy a tracking solution to measure website traffic emanating from your social sales activity, so this can be measured and reported against. Where you do obtain contact details from a potential customer via social media engagement, have your community management team trained up to pick up the phone and get in touch with the prospect. Alternatively, establish a process where this can be passed directly, ‘with priority’, to your sales team to take action. Lastly, give the customer a choice by providing inbound contact details, email address or a web address, but only fall back on this as a last resort.
5. Get your sales team involved: Cross-promotion
Many sales professionals are already using social media channels as a gateway to networking and finding information on the right decision makers (in the case of B2B). Get these guys involved in your social engagement efforts and have regular meetings with your community management team. It’s a single linked up process and effort, and should never be a fragmented approach. The best way to drive brand reach and to support the sales effort is to ensure your sales team become more active on social media. Your organisation’s reach on social media is limited as is our won individual social footprints. By on-boarding your sales force you can effectively increase your brand reach a great deal. Encourage your sales team to become ‘super social’ and cross-promote your brand message, product promotions and other marketing efforts, share information, videos, recoded webcasts and so on.
Bonus Tip: Go after the customers of the competition
Yes, you heard me right. It’s a free marketplace and we need to be creative in our approaches to the modern sales effort. By using your social media tracking and monitoring solution you can create queries with specific search terms relating to unhappy customers of the competition. Trust me there are many of these conversations and may just be the right time for you to step in and offer the customer an alternative. Again here it is important to be professional and business-like about it, so don’t be blatant.
As with social media, social sales will not go away. Rather it be you doing something about it than your competitor chipping away at your customer base with you still pondering about if it is the right thing to do – very few customers lost will become a customer again!