Social Selling: Why there is a need to return to personal

With social channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn connecting us to people across the world with only the click of a button, door-to-door selling looks set to become a thing of the past.

Although people know that social networking sites can raise their profile across the globe, many fail to fully utilise the power of these connections and as a result, are missing out on key opportunities.

As a more experienced sales person, it may feel as though the younger recruits who are from the millennial generation have an unfair advantage because they’ve grown up with the technology. However, with businesses across the globe taking advantage of these social channels, there are plenty of opportunities to up your skills in this area.

Social in Sales

Today, social media should be an integral part of any company’s sales strategy, especially for those who operate in sales directly. From researching potential prospects and keeping up to date with industry news to participating in online networking hours, social channels are an effective way to increase your reach.

What this means is that sales people are no longer confined to one off speaking events or appointments to promote what they do and what they stand for. Instead, an entire profile can be created online that supports your work and introduces your product offering to a much wider audience.

On the last count, there was 238 million monthly active users on Twitter, 1.35 billion monthly active users on Facebook and 347 million people with LinkedIn profiles. Although you’re not going to reach every single one of these users, these statistics demonstrate how many more people social media gives you instant access to.

Sales is about creating relationships with prospects, businesses and potential customers and as such is an incredibly social industry. Therefore, it seems inevitable that this social industry should use online communication platforms dedicated to connecting people across the world.

The Rules of Social for Selling

There is no definitive guide to which approaches are most successful at selling on social channels, but the internet is not short of advice on the different approaches you should take.

In a similar way to the Pareto Principle, one recurring piece of advice is that 80% of what you share online should be content based, while only the remaining 20% should be personal and promotional.

This piece of advice is based on the notion that in the early stages of your business, people do not know what you do so won’t be actively looking for your company. Instead, to grab this passive audience, you should be sharing industry relevant news, statistics and information that will naturally draw interest and more followers.

But, the 80/20 principle fails to consider what style of tweets you should be sending and many people unfortunately take it as a cue to send numerous links to the latest industry news. Although this is in the right direction, even content based tweets should be personalised.

Instead of sending a link out, tweet your opinion on the story or take a statistic out of the article so you are distinguishing yourself from the other sales people who are sending the same link.

Programs such as TrendSpotter are an effective way to categorise the stories that are trending in your industry, so you can ensure your social posts are addressing relevant, discussion-worthy topics.

The key is to create a distinctive voice that your followers will recognise and respond to and one way to ensure consistency of voice is to create a plan. A social media schedule will help you create a buzz around important sales events on the calendar and gives you the time to carefully plan and test posts.

Although you’re working in sales, there is no reason to avoid replying to or commenting on events that are happening online or stories that are of interest. People respond well to general interest stories and it can really help you stand out from the crowd.

(As long as you roughly follow the 80/20 rule), these platforms are a fantastic way to network with potential clients, customers and generate interest in your company.

Through online networking hours or industry hashtags, you can communicate with people who may not have heard of your company before and reach out to them. By establishing a connection with potential prospects on social media, they’re going to recognise you and be familiar with your proposition when they are in need of your services.

Be warned though, social media is a channel for establishing connections and generating leads but should not be used for pitching ideas. People prefer pitches through email where you can explain the proposition in depth, rather than a character limited social post.

Fundamentally, to create a successful social media strategy you need to plan your posts well in advance to create a definitive online presence and establish lasting connections.

© 2015, Bryn Thompson. All rights reserved.

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