The way we interact is changing. Most of our personal connections and purchases occur via mobile/online and forming new relationships is as easy as clicking a button.
Are you leveraging this knowledge in your sales efforts?
Consumers say that social media plays almost as big a role in purchasing decisions as does television. (Ad Age)
Social Media Profiles offer distinctive character identifiers to cut out the hard work and financial cost when it comes to locating potential prospects, leads and customers; the people that matter most to your business. So how can you engage and reach out to them?
Imagine this scenario: You are booking a holiday.
Of two websites, one has blogs with helpful travel advice and an active social media feed with lots of visual appeal.
The other one has a great website too but has been mostly inactive on their Social Media, which one would you choose?
Nobody likes a couch potato company.
For all you know, the second could be a better, more reliable company but being active and visible on Social Media encourages customers to put their trust in you and believe you are more than just a vessel for their transactions.
Here are 3 ideas on how you can start building your own online credibility:
Easy – Take a little time at the beginning of each week to schedule content that presents you as an industry authority – LinkedIn posts, Facebook posts or Tweets showing your area of expertise. If you’ve got some original ideas you’ve been dying to share, then great! If not link to content that your followers will find engaging and useful.
Intermediate – Contribute your original ideas on blogs and forums. Try not to use this as a sales channel, if you’re genuine and insightful, readers will find their way to you without you pushing the hard sell.
Tip: Expand your network! Whether it’s networking at an event or commenting on their posts, it never hurts to have too many friends online. Other content creators will expand your reach and may be able to send you recommendations or advice in the long run.
Advanced – Blog it! Starting a blog is a great channel to share all of those insightful ideas bubbling around in your head. Alternatively you could offer your insights as a guest contributor on a third-party blog.
Companies that blog regularly have 55% more website visitors. (Source – Hubspot)
Blogging allows you to be found more easily through search engines and will often rank you higher than the competition. It also gives you a chance to develop your writing, Word Press and design skills. This one is a little more time consuming, but really can lead to more quality leads instead of huge amounts of useless traffic.
Hint: As cold calling has always been a shot in the dark and highly risky tactic, Social Media allows you to add that much needed value to your conversations. So by providing users with a credible, trusted source of information, they will find their way to you. The ball is in the court of the buyer, so you need to navigate them to a slam dunk!
Leading on from cold calling, let’s just say what everyone is thinking, everyone hates them. Recipients hate them, Sales Reps hate them. So why do we put ourselves through this ordeal when there are much easier, more personable tools out there for gaining new leads?
Here’s a few tools we’ve gathered to help you with prospecting on Social Media…
Twitter Advanced Search
One of the most under-promoted handy tools that Twitter offers is its Advanced Search option Check out the screenshot below to view the features it includes. Advanced Search allows you to find niche users and get notified via email when somebody matches your criteria. It lets you search by local area, hashtags, language and even the tone of the tweet. View this screenshot below.
Tip: Make sure that you switch to ‘All Tweets’ instead of ‘Top Tweets’ in your search results to avoid biased search results. This is a great way to cut through the noise and locate those all important prospects.
Finding People on Google+
When you first join Google+, it scans your existing connections to see if anybody is available to connect with you. Although this a great way to stay in touch with your current connections, you’re not inviting a new audience in. To expand your current reach, you need to use keywords for a much more detailed Google+ search.
For example, typing in the search term ‘Marketing’ allows you to follow others users’ Collections and Communities, connect with new users and see the top posts within this industry.
You can narrow down your search with place names if you’re looking for like-minded people in the local area. Narrow down ‘Marketing’ to ‘Digital Marketing London’ to find a smaller circle more related to your industry for your circle.
Hint: To keep your new connections engaged, add a ‘+’ or ‘@’ in front of their username to tag them in future posts you think will be of interest to them.
Quora and general Q&A forums
Think of this as a little bit like Yahoo Answers tailored to you. This platform has risen in popularity massively in the last few years and is becoming the new go-to place for online Q&A’s.
This vibrant online community is filled with various forums and discussion boards for your particular industry (as well as DIY, history & current news if you happen to go off track). You can add interests to your feed and receive email updates when a new question is asked relating to your feeds.
Be open to interaction – this is an ideal place to present yourself as an industry authority without too much self promotion. Try linking to a blog or article you’ve written, if you’ve engaged readers with your answer, they’ll want to see what else you have to say.
This is a great avenue to find those who are looking for guidance in your industry. Answer their questions thoroughly and do your best to present yourself as an authority without putting other people down in the discussion, remember you’re here to engage, not enrage!
A word of advice: The Quora community has a zero tolerance policy for spam. A conversation without context online is no different to a cold call so nurture those leads before dropping them a personal message, be social not spammy!
For a more in depth guide to setting up your Quora profile, check out How to Use Quora to Increase Your Business Exposure by Social Media Examiner.
3) Informing Your Sales Calls
Following your current leads on Social Media is a way of adding context to your sales calls just by having a quick scan of your prospect or lead’s profile, (no need to stalk them).
Here is a few ways to leverage Social Media to stop your leads from going cold.
Do Your Pre-Call Research
Usually a sales rep will have some info before calling a company: their size, revenue and needs. This is all well and good but what if you had the information to make your conversations deeper and more productive?
A quick Social Media search before you call a lead allows you to view their shared content, interests and conversations which you can then reference in your call, adding a whole new level to your otherwise tepid pitch to them.
Social Media offers you the wealth of information you need to tailor your conversations to your lead. By striking their interest with useful insights you KNOW they have shared online, you are again presenting yourself as more than just a vessel for their transactions – you are an industry authority they need to work with.
Create Twitter Lists
Are your leads active on Twitter? If they are, add them to a ‘Leads’ list (a private one). This allows you to view a feed from users on that list only and get a targeted view of their content which you can leverage before your sales calls to them.
They might share some breaking news or interests that would be of great use to you when tailoring your conversation to them!
Tip: You could also create a list called ‘New Customers’ watch for questions or comments about your company and be sure to share their positive comments. Always look for ways to delight and surprise your customers.
Keep Them Happy After Their Conversion
It may seem like a long process, but keeping your customers engaged even after their purchase or sale will promote you as a friendly and reliable organisation – and will encourage them to use you again in the future and refer you to others who need your product or service.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, why should they stay with you? What are you offering them that other companies aren’t?
This article from Social Media Examiner 3 Easy Steps to Engaging Your Customers, offers some great advice on engaging your audience before and after their conversion.
4) Aligning Your Sales And Marketing With Social Media
To unlock the true potential of Social media for your business, you need to integrate it into your daily sales process, not as an after-thought. Using it for Marketing alone may gain you new followers, but will likely to lead to low customer conversions. So how can you co-ordinate Sales and Marketing into your Social Media?
Create an organised strategy that answers these questions…
Who is responsible for setting up Social Media lists and alerts?
Who will notify the sales rep when the company is mentioned on Social Media
What are you looking for on Social Media before calling a lead?
Who will respond to Social Media posts?
Will this differ if it is a prospect, lead or customer?
How do we ensure our responses and message remain consistent?
How will we measure if our Social Media Strategy is working?
How will we record Social Conversations?
Which channel are we going to focus on the most?
How many visits, leads and customers do we need to validate our time investment on Social Media?
Getting organised with who is responsible for different areas of your Social Media means you’ll create a seamless process not only for your team, but for your prospects, leads and customers too.
The world of sales is expanding, in order to outperform, you need to outsmart. Leveraging the power of Social not only makes sales rep’s jobs easier, but less time consuming too.
Remember: A disconnected, cold interaction can develop into a true business opportunity by simply improving your overall customer experience. If you’re not finding your prospects on social, somebody else will!