Selling has always been social. Long before the days of Facebook or Twitter, people looked to their peers for recommendations, and to trusted reviewers and industry experts for advice on what course they should take.
But these days, instead of actively seeking out information, we get so many different messages from so many different directions that our ideas about a brand seem to form without us even realizing it.
In fact, research suggests that 90% of all our buying decisions are made subconsciously.
This means that your potential clients are out there on the internet right now, forming their opinion of your brand (and your competitors’ brands) – and they might not even know what it was that shaped their opinion along the way.
Want to get your message out there and start shaping these perceptions yourself? Then you’ll have to get in on the action.
Did you know that the average American adult now spends 15.5 hours exposed to media messages every day?
And, now that we spend so much of our time engaged in the digital-social space of our phones and social networks, the sheer scale of this influencing stimuli has exploded.
This means that we’re getting most of our information from our networks and newsfeeds. It’s where we’re most social – and it’s where your selling process has to begin.
There are many myths however that people have about social selling and in this article I want to help clarify them.
Top 3 Social Selling Myths Debunked
Myth 1: Social Selling is Just a Fad
Research suggests that we now spend 28% of our time online checking social media. If you’re trying to catch a potential customer’s attention and you’re not reaching out through social channels, I’m afraid you’re fighting against the tide.
Social selling is about making sure your marketing matches up to the ways people live, work and communicate. It’s about figuring out where your target market gets their advice and what influences their buying decisions, and targeting your efforts for maximum impact.
That doesn’t sound like a fad to me.
How to make it work:
Figure out where your clients spend their time. It might be Twitter. It might be Facebook. Very likely, if you have a B2B company, it’s LinkedIn.
A good start is to follow your clients’ companies on all their social media channels, keeping an eye on where they’re most active and share the most updates – and who they follow and interact with, too.
Right now, I’m going to focus on LinkedIn.
That’s because, while most companies now use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. to promote their own products and brand, individual decision-makers within those companies tend to use LinkedIn as a tool for networking and professional development.
And that’s where you can catch their eye by adding value and demonstrating your expertise.
LinkedIn publishes news and editorial content from top industry figures, giving you a great opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader – and publishing on the same platform as “Influencers” like Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington.
Are you an expert in your field? Great. Use the space to write long-form articles and educational pieces. Post updates and photo/video content about your company. Seek out other people who carry prestige in your field (or who might buy your stuff) and comment on what they say, too.
Ignoring the potential of LinkedIn is like going to a corporate exhibition and sticking to your lonely stall in the empty hall instead of going to the drink table where all the customers are. Go talk to them!
First, take a look at LinkedIn’s very own writing tips for long form content here.
Then, head to your LinkedIn home page, click the big orange button that says Publish a Post…
You should also regularly be posting status updates on LinkedIn to stay top of mind with your network.
Myth 2: Sales is All About the Salesperson
Are your persuasion skills world class? Could you sell sand to a desert nomad and a refrigerator to a penguin?
If so, that’s great news: you’re in a fantastic position to close the deal.
But closing the deal is, of course, only one part of the job. As essential as that phone call or face-to-face meeting is, it’s actually the final step in the chain – even if it’s the first time that you, personally, have ever spoken to the client.
That’s because, these days, a sale isn’t an action – it’s a journey.
In fact, it’s thought that up to 57% of the buying journey is complete before a sales representative even gets involved.
Customers engage with brands, ideas and opinions long before you get to have your say. They read reviews and posts from their peers. They check out your Twitter feed. They look you up on LinkedIn. They Google your name to see what comes up.
How to Make it Work:
Everyone likes getting something for free, and if you can provide your customers with top-notch, engaging, complimentary resources, you’ll do three vital things that really shape the customer journey:
- You actually guide clients to the places you want them to interact with your brand – and where you can manage the conversation.
- You lay the foundations of brand loyalty.
- You expose your deep knowledge and expertise in your field, building trust and encouraging potential clients to come back – this time, to buy your services.
Focus your energies on building a coherent content library of materials that will really be of use or of interest to potential customers – as opposed to simply telling them what you want them to know.
Rather than releasing a new promotional video, make a tutorial that tackles a common problem in your industry or adds value for your customers.
Rather than a press release, write an ebook on sector trends, or giving free advice that positions you as an authority on your topic. People want to deal with experts and industry authorities.
Rather than simply tweeting about how great your company or organization is doing, run a Q&A with your CEO or technical team to help people get the best out of the product, or to learn more about what you do.
The most important thing is to make the whole process consistent. Plan when you’re going to schedule new content and releases. Track which types of posts, messages and tactics have the most positive effect. Carefully work out how you are going to communicate each step of the journey.
And most importantly, listen to what your potential customers want.
You can’t join the discussion if you don’t know where it’s taking place!
Setting up a social media tracking like Hootsuite means you can bring all your social media feeds together in one place, watching out for mentions or tags and staying on alert to respond with lightning speed.
Myth 3: Social Selling Isn’t Something I Can Train My Staff To Do
Social selling is all about strategy. It’s about following a clear, logical set of steps towards measurable goals. And while it’s not necessarily something you can simply pick up overnight, it’s absolutely something that can be learned and developed over time.
In fact, we’ve put together a list of 10 straightforward things that you can do every day in under 30 minutes to get the ball rolling on your social selling journey.
Simple, quantifiable things like updating your status on social media sites, engaging with content posted by companies in your target market and reaching out to all your new connections via LinkedIn.
While (in most cases) social media platforms aren’t going to become the places where you actually do your selling, this is where you locate your target market and establish your relationships with potential customers, before guiding the relationship offline to make your sale.
The starting point, always, is to think about how to be useful to your clients and customers. How to guide them, rather than simply sell to them. It’s about giving away just enough for free to get them hooked on what you do.
And it’s about looking at your brand and your offering through their eyes.
Your turn…what are some of the social selling myths you’ve seen or some of the ways people are using social selling incorrectly? Let us know in the comments below.
Ready to get started on your social selling journey? Click here to get in touch with our friendly team today and find out how we can help boost your brand… and your bottom line.