The face of sales is longer mired in the old school of sales approach imprinted in the culture by David Mamet’s culture defining “GlenGarry Glen Ross” - a tale of desperate men chasing the American dream using outdated sales “methods.”
Social selling is not new. People have always “bought socially”: asking advice about goods and services from friends and getting referrals from credible sources.
But we’ve now amplified the process, using technology and platforms that drive instant “always on” digital reach.
Your Web Site May be the Last Place Social Selling Occurs
Your site can be the last connection point with a social buyer, not the first. Consumers and other businesses are “finding” your brand on social platforms: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat and via apps on your mobile phone.
Your profile, social content and engagement with others on these platforms defines what your business is about, what problems you solve and should drive consumers into a sales funnel connecting back to your web site. SEO rankings are being co-opted slowly by social presence and mobile apps.
That’s not to say you should ignore SEO; you shouldn’t, but it’s no longer a “search is everything” marketing challenge. Social media is mission critical.
Remember, consumers can unearth just about any type of information on your business using a simple Google search or monitoring conversations about your brand via third party review sites like Yelp, forums, blogs and “conversations” about your brand on their social platform of choice.
Pay attention to what’s being said in the social eco system and respond back. Or, lose an opportunity to generate incremental revenue opportunities with influential social consumers.
The Right Platform Selection is the Digital Oxygen You Need to Sell Social
Social selling is not driven by selecting snazzy cool platforms, tools and apps. You must understand your client base first: their demographics, likes, needs, preferences and problems. Then, select a social platform that maps to your customer focus.
Facebook is a wonderful platform for any brand targeting consumers; assuming you know going in success requires advertising. But, if you are targeting other businesses, Facebook is a huge waste of time.
For biz focused brands, Twitter is great for “radar screen” hashtag or topic listening and use LinkedIn for direct one one pitches.
And, in today’s crowded social eco system, one platform is not enough. If Facebook is the right place to be you may need to stand up a presence on related sites like Pinterest or Instagram to drive broader social reach. And, these are not static platforms: comments and engagement matter: savvy community management drives tangible revenue opportunities.
Algorithms Are Front End Drivers for Social Selling
Since the dawn of the digital age, billions of dollars have been spent chasing Google’s algorithmic driven search engine rankings and social platforms require similar marketing tactics.
Standing up and out on LinkedIn (the premier B2B channel) is not easy: high visibility is driven by showing up on Pulse; if you make the cut generating 20-30K views is easy to accomplish, if you don’t, expect to get 30-50 views of your content.
Over the last 3-5 years Facebook has slowly choked off algorithmic driven organic reach on the platform. No consumer facing brand will be successful on Facebook unless you coupled “organic presence” with an advertising campaign.
According to Robert Scoble (one of the digital age’s best thought leaders), Facebook has a team of 30 engineers who are constantly tweaking how content is found on the platform. Don’t chase their algorithms. It’s a fools game. Share high quality content (images, video and updates), build Groups as a front end to your sales funnel and couple “organic status updates” with a highly targeted advertising campaign.
Eight Critical Drivers for Social Selling
- What’s the best platform for connecting with your prospects. Social is “smart selling” as long as your brand is on the right platform. Consumer focused: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube & second tier platforms like Tumblr. For B2B brands: Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Determine the optimum way to connect with your prospects: @at messages on Twitter are much better than “DMs” (direct messages); many don’t even monitor the latter. LinkedIn is a great way to find and connect with professionals; but, do it directly with a personalized invitation to connect.
- Join the community and create a persona profile that is unique, underscoring what makes you business or personal brand different from others.
- Connect with social consumers: Twitter’s Advanced Search is a great way to find conversations and individuals and then couple this with direct reach via LinkedIn.
- Contribute to conversations on social to drive engagement. Don’t use social selling as a one call close. It’s about building relationships.
- Don’t use generic pitches to prospects with a link to your home page. Share a link that relates to their specific problems. Social selling is about personalization.
- Your Sales Team needs to know social selling has a sales cycle like any sales channel: research issues, identify contacts, engage and then reach out with a personal message.
- Know that social media platforms represent critical opportunities to shape consumer experience around your brand.
A Blog Will Always be an Integral Channel for Social Selling
A blog is the social voice of your business, enabling you to write about problems your business services and products solve for your customers. And, any social media needs high quality content feeds and a blog is essential to building social voice.
Driving and building brand awareness across all social media platforms; showing your prospects your business and brand is credible, you solve specific problems that map to their needs and you’re a trustworthy business.
Expect to See Social Direct Platform Sales to Accelerate
Twitter and Facebook are testing buy buttons with select accounts. Expect this trend to accelerate moving forward as all social platforms are looking to bulk up “time on site” statistics and find new sources of revenue.
Facebook is now supporting buying and selling products directly in Groups.
Company’s like Stripe and Gumroad are incorporating buy functionality on the fly, enabling brands to sell within apps and on any/all platforms. Even second tier social platforms like Snapchat are embracing early stage social eCommerce, adding “snapcash” to its native functionality.
Anticipate these trends will accelerate moving forward. Again, social media is changing from a two dimensional marketing and engagement platform to eCommerce direct social selling - a social platform is a must have for any brand that wants to find new sources for commerce.