(Video – How to Capitalise on the Social Selling Trend)

If you haven’t heard of Social Selling or the talk of it being the future of marketing and sales, you may have been living under a rock or have recently arrived from a far distant planet.

It is a concept which has been around for many years and in many guises.  Prior to the advent of the Internet and social media, social selling mainly took the form of networking to gain social proof and acceptance.  Some people may even recall the phrase, ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know that gets you where you want to be.’

Social selling, but old school!

The question then is, ‘Is Social Selling really the BIG future for sales and marketing?’

The answer is a simple YES and an equally simple NO.

If you hang on to the traditional concepts of sales & marketing, then you would say ‘NO’, but if you embrace the trends in the environment and all that social selling has to offer, for you the answer would be a resounding ‘YES’!

So what is Social Selling?

The basics of social selling refer to finding & connecting with potential clients and market influencer’s via social media channels, with the primary objective of building mutually beneficial relationships.  These relationships will either result in sales or referrals.

In the traditional marketing and sales model, marketing focuses on telling potential clients in a selected target group what they should want.  Adverts, for example, are generally designed to make the reader or viewer feel like they are missing out if they don’t have XYZ.  Sales is that part of the process which then focuses on telling that group why they need XYZ and, if they do a half decent job, scoop up the order.

Is there a future for this model?  Yes, but …..!

The fact is that in today’s highly connected and informed world, 74% of buyers conduct more than half of their product, service and purchase research online before making contact with a sales person.  Research also shows that 3 out of 4 B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with their industry peers before making a buying decision.

These numbers hold true whether B2B or B2C.

Which means, that although there remains a future for traditional marketing and selling models, it has become a less effective option in most industries and business environments.  Just ask anyone who is reliant on cold calling.  The fact is that 59% of people think less favourably of you and your company when you cold call than if that call has a warm reference point.

It is estimated that over 90% of decision makers no longer accept cold calls!  By contrast 81% of B2B buyers are more likely to engage with a strong, professional brand, which they recognise.  And herein lies the power of social selling, as it provides even the smallest business, which in the past would have been discounted, the opportunity to develop a professional and strong brand.

Buyers, clients, customers or whatever other terms you use to describe that group of targeted people you want to sell to actually want to get to know, like and trust you and your product.  And social selling solves this challenge.

So how can you capitalise on this growing trend called Social Selling without being creepy or overly self-promotional?

Firstly, social selling is not about hard core selling on LinkedIn.  It is about educating and developing trusted relationships.

It is not about closing deals on Twitter.  It is about engaging in a conversation.

It in no way replaces actually talking with real people face-to-face.  It is about facilitating an environment in which people want to talk with you.

Social selling is not a magic bullet which will solve all of your lead generation and marketing issues over night.  It is though a way of enhancing what you are already doing and making it more effective and efficient.

With that in mind, here are 3 steps I suggest you use to capitalise on the social selling trend:

  • Positioning – Position yourself and your business on social media channels using a well designed and carefully thought out strategy.  For example, if you know your prospects are active on LinkedIn, then create a professional presence and personality on that channel.
  • Listening – Connect with and follow relevant people including your potential clients on the channels you have chosen to work through.  Listen to their conversation to identify the opportunities for you to add value to that conversation.  A part of this listening could be asking questions that are pertinent to the discussion.
  • Engaging – Provide content which educates and informs your network, without promotion of your product or service.  Over time, when you have begun to create engaging conversation, you could begin to add a certain amount of self-promotion and selling into the educational piece.

Social selling is about creating an environment in which your prospect wants to hear from you and wants to engage in a conversation which is based on trust.

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