“Social selling” is getting quite a bit of coverage and discussion these days and I suppose this blog post is evidence of that. Sales (and marketing for that matter) have always been social disciplines because they involve interacting with other people directly and in a meaningful way. The presence of technology in the mix is designed to make this human interaction more efficient for both buyer and seller as well as enhance the time together – not about replacing humans with machines.
So how do you implement a successful social selling program? Start with these three guidelines and you’ll be off to a great start.
1. Be helpful, answer questions
The great thing about social media is that it gives a voice to an individual that can be shared as they choose – to their social graph, to a group, or to the world. This creates a great opportunity to engage in a helpful and meaningful way when a question is broadcast or need identified. This is not the place for a sales pitch. If you can help answer the question or otherwise prove you are knowledgeable, then you are headed down the right path. The time for “the pitch” will unfold naturally and, in many cases, without you having to formally deliver it based on the prospects own research.
2. It’s all about timing
Social signals go stale fast. You should aim to respond in minutes if not hours. Wait for the weekly report and you are toast. Respond in a real-time format like Twitter days late and you are completely out of context. Q&A sites like Quora are a bit more forgiving but always best to answer early rather than late. To do this, you have to either have a program in place to monitor these channels and act as they come up or use something like our Nearstream offering which is specifically designed to give you the most actionable social signals via Twitter with minimum effort (we’ll even send you a daily summary for you to act on).
3. This is just the beginning
Back to the point about sales and marketing always being social pursuits for this one. Rarely does one interaction lead to a sale and social is about beginning conversations that lead to meaningful relationships. Take the long view on social as a place to find and acquire customers and it will pay huge dividends. But, just as importantly, be vigilant to balance the time invested with the results you are generating. Steer clear of vanity metrics like followers, favorites, or likes as evidence of success. They are delivered at extremely low transaction cost and have very low meaning as it relates to true customer engagement.
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