An integral part of the sales process is getting to know your prospects and establishing relationships—social media can help you accomplish this quickly and easily.
Social media allows salespeople to see what prospects are saying about their brand and competitors. You can really get to know his or her needs through social listening. It’s a great way to research a market and initiate conversation leading to a sale.
In addition, social media allows you to generate new leads, and build deeper relationships with existing clients that drives them to purchase again and again.
Colleen Francis, a sales expert and president of Engage Selling, says that she has seen salespeople pursue leads using social media and end up with sales of between $30,000 and $250,000. “The biggest sales have come from salespeople using Twitter to find opportunities and LinkedIn to find the names of the true buyers inside organizations.”
Facebook and blog platforms have proven to be essential for salespeople, as well.
“One salesperson I know sells digital scrapbooking software and supplies,” Francis says. “She connects with her customers on Facebook and through a blog where she shares project ideas and digital photo advice. She publicizes both in person and in virtual scrapbooking Facebook events. She offers an e-newsletter through her blog, and it offers more project ideas. As a result, her existing customers always come back to her for supplies to do the projects she shares, and they also remember her when doing other scrapbook projects. They share her posts with their friends through social networks , leading to still more new customers for her. She has built a thriving business with both new customers and reordering customers as a result of her online contact with them.”
So how can you use social media to make sales?
Step 1. Determine the best way to connect with prospects
Before joining a social network to drive sales, you must know your client base. Social media is a smart selling tool only if you know where your clients and prospects are engaging in social media. It’s a waste of your time and resources if you are not where your clients are.
But if you learn where they are spending most of their time; be it Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, you know which space is best for connecting and interacting with them.
Facebook Facebook has long been considered the best arena for business-to-consumer sales.
But unfortunately, ongoing changes to Facebook’s algorithm mean brands without an advertising budget won’t get much visibility. So it is also important to integrate other networks, such as Instagram or Pinterest, along with their Facebook, to increase visibility and sales. Several of our clients are getting great results from Instagram. But like any site, you can’t simply post products. It’s all about engaging with the community, presenting products in fun and interesting ways, and offering a collection of images and posts that appeal to the lifestyle of your end-user.
LinkedIn LinkedIn is the appropriate platform for sales of business-to-business products or services. It is a more professional networking environment, so this is the right place to connect with people at target businesses and corporations that might be interested in your product or service.
Twitter You can employ Twitter for all kinds of sales. The primary use should be listening, not broadcasting. Use what you hear as leverage to pick up the phone and call. Listen for problems that can be solved.
Additional Online Content Hubs Blogs and comment sections on websites are also great places to generate leads.
Salespeople have been successful in blogging about issues related to the problems their products solve and participating in online forums where these topics are discussed. Meeting someone at their point of need with a solution, a salesperson can then create a lead who is interested in learning more about a product or service.
Lesson learned: You needn’t limit yourself to the three big social networking sites. You can really find prospects any place online where a relevant conversation is happening.
Step 2. Join a community and create a persona
It starts by spending some time with the online destination you plan to use. Build up a personal account, have conversations, and become acquainted with the norms and expectations of the community.
Without misrepresenting yourself, create a persona that’s likeable and trustworthy within that community. Think carefully; if people think you’re not relatable when on a social media sites, they’re not going to do business with you. If you comment a lot to get people to go to your site, people will see through you, they will not listen. You can’t abuse or misuse social media.
Lesson learned: Show your network that you’re an amiable, trustworthy resource.
Step 3. Connect
Friend, follow or connect with individuals with profiles that match your clients’. How do you do this?
Conduct a search on each social networking website or use a resource like socialmention.com to find people who are talking about your industry or using related keywords. Then comment on their posts, retweet them, answer a question or share something they say. By contributing to their conversation you add value to their network, she says. Then it becomes natural for you to follow them and for them to follow you back.
Once you connect, don’t immediately bombard them with pitches. Instead, read their profiles, get to know them, identify their needs and, when the time is right, reach out directly.
A pre-scheduled call is often a great tool, but even a private message or eMail can be a first step where you specifically reference what you’ve learned about that person through your social interactions. Then you don’t feel like a pushy salesperson but rather a friend with a specific solution.
Lesson learned: When you’re ready to approach someone directly, personalize and do it privately.
Step 4. Build relationships
The most important thing salespeople need to know is that they need to develop relationships more than they need to develop leads, because good relationships will turn into leads. People share a lot of information, and if you monitor and listen to what they are saying, you will eventually be able to engage in a meaningful conversation with them.
Once you develop a relationship, you can tell the prospect how your product or service might be something they want or need.
Lesson learned: Social Media is less about networking than it is about building relationships.
Step 5. Engage in a conversation
If you just write them a message with a pitch and a link to your website, they will be uninterested. If you say, ‘Here are some solutions to your problem, maybe my product or service can help,’ they will know you care about them. If you really listen to what they are saying on social media, you can open doors and start a conversation without having to make a cold call.
Other ways to do this: Create a Facebook group related to your product or service and invite prospects to join. Then, send targeted messages to members who are active within the group.
Join the groups that your clients are members of on LinkedIn, as well. Engage in conversation there by answering questions that are asked and showcasing your expertise at problem solving in a specific area.
Twitter also offers opportunities to initiate dialogues. Although Twitter should be used as a listening tool, you can still engage in a conversation on the site. Here’s how:
Listen to your prospects’ tweets and use them as trigger points to start a conversation on a business development call.
Look for trends in their tweets. Are they launching new products? Buying new companies? Expanding to a new market?
If any of their tweets could be a trigger for something you sell, call your prospect and mention that you saw the tweet. Ask them how it’s affecting their business and see if they would be interested in starting a conversation about how you can help.
Lesson learned: If you share good content with your social networks, it can spread easily, increasing your visibility with new leads. A salesperson can also give better service when paying attention to customers online. And that can result in loyal customers for life.
More questions about making money with Social Media Marketing? Let PHANTOM POWER’s experts spark the creativity in you!