Sell Without Selling – How To Use Social Media To Boost Sales Without Annoying Your Prospects

If you want to boost sales in your business, social media can help you do just that. However, there’s a knack to making sales on social media: The art of selling without selling.

Customers use social media to look for information, connect with their favorite brands, and find new businesses to buy products or services from. They don’t come to read a sales spiel, meaning that sales pitches are a definite no go.

So just how can you leverage social selling for your business? Get started by doing these 5 key things.

1. Sell Without Selling

 

It sounds like a contradiction, but selling without selling is exactly what you need to do in order to use social media to your best advantage. But what does that mean? It means offering real value to your customers and giving them reasons to connect with your business, whether to solve a problem, or for their next purchase.

Use social media to give customers a reason to do business with you. As well as the value you offer them, make the most of social media to establish yourself as a thought leader. Let your customers know that you’re the best go-to source when they want help or information.

Today’s customers are independent and empowered. They’re using social media to find the information they want and need. Your job as a social seller is to make sure that when they find you, they find information worth staying for.

2. Find the Right Customers

 

Talking to the right people is key to success with social media. Talking to the right people means your business and products will be seen by people who want to do business with you. After all, if you wanted to sell laptops you wouldn’t talk to customers who were looking for a new car.

So how do you find the right customers? A good place to start is with customer profiles. Use customer profiles to build an image of your ideal customer, so you can tailor your marketing to that. The more complete you make your customer profiles, the better. You’ll likely start with demographic data:

  • Gender and age
  • Location
  • Education
  • Job title and industry
  • Income

However, a good customer profile goes beyond demographics. Dig a little deeper so you can pinpoint:

  • Their buying habits
  • Their spending power
  • Their personality
  • Their likes, dislikes and hobbies
  • Their needs, worries and pain points
  • How they prefer to connect with brands online

Creating customer profiles takes work and research. You can harvest information from existing customer databases, carry out market research, or utilize social listening to find out what your customers are saying. Some of your customer profile work will entail a little assumption too, but the more accurate you can be, the better.

The last point, how they prefer to connect with brands online, is particularly relevant to social selling. Look at your existing customers’ behavior and any social media stats you have, and combine that knowledge with social listening to build up a complete picture. Where do they hang out? Where do they prefer to connect with brands? And when they search for businesses on social media, what are they searching for? Be sure that when they search, they find your business.

You don’t have to wait for your customers to come to you.

3. Offer Value

 

Offering value is the heart of selling without selling. When you offer value to your customers, you don’t need a sales pitch. The value you offer them will do the work for you, establishing you as a knowledgeable and helpful source of information.

Whenever you create content for social media, ask yourself what value it adds to your customers’ lives. After all, they’re going to be seeing a lot of social media updates on a daily basis. If you want yours to stand out, you need to make them attention grabbing.

Every piece of content you publish should inform, entertain, help, inspire or engage your customers in some way. Here are a few examples of how to use content to offer value:

  • Podcasts or Blab’s that talk about the latest developments in your industry
  • Instructional videos or how-tos that solve a problem for your customers
  • Informative blog posts with solid takeaways that your customers can apply in their lives
  • White papers that dig deep into a subject
  • Curating useful content so your customers don’t have to go searching
  • Entertaining posts that beg to be shared
  • The chance to enter contests or sweepstakes

Use your social media content to establish yourself as truly valuable.

4. Build Connections

 

Social selling is all about connections. Customers are more likely to buy from brands that they feel a connection with. Connection fosters engagement with your business and content; engagement which can lead to sales.

So how do you go about building connections?

The first step, as outlined above, is meeting the right people. Find out who you want to talk to, and go where they are. When you find people you want to connect with, make yourself useful. Contribute something of value to conversations and listen to what they say. This is far more likely to recommend you to customers than going for the hard sell.

Those things will lay the ground work, but it’s important that you pay close attention to the personality you show to your customers. The way they feel about your brand will determine the kind of connection they form with you.

Start by thinking about the impression customers will get of you at a first glance. Evaluate everything from your website to your Twitter profile to your content. When a customer first finds you, what will they see? What kind of image are you presenting? Decide how you want customers to perceive you, and build your brand image around that.

Think about how you interact with your customers on social media. Train your team to be respectful, polite and accommodating at all times. Questions or complaints should be responded to swiftly, with an emphasis on resolution.

5. Know When to Sell

 

At some point in your social selling endeavors, you still need to seal the deal. It’s vital that your social selling translates to actual dollars for your business. How can you use social media to drive customers to that point without going for the hard sale?

The key is to take your lead from your customers. Pay close attention to where your customer is. Are they showing signs of intent to buy? Look for soft signals, such as general discussion around products like yours, and harder signals such as specific questions about price, feedback, and other details around your or your competitors’ products.

Give customers information that matches where they are in the buying cycle. Pay attention when they ask questions, and furnish them with the information they need to make a purchasing decision. Use calls to action on social media to guide customers towards buying. Encourage customers to sign up to your email or text marketing list, or get in touch with you directly for more information.

Your customers are on social media. By understanding how social selling works and how to leverage it for your business, you can turn likes and shares into sales and loyal customers.

 

#TwoMinuteTuesdays – Take two minutes out of your Tuesday mornings to digest some interesting and informative content brought to you by the interlinkONE team. Have content ideas or questions you want discussed? Tweet at us @interlinkONE! 

Social Prospecting – What Should You Be Listening For?

Are you looking to boost sales and find new leads for your business? Then social prospecting is the way to go. People are using social media in their billions, which means no matter what your business is offering, there are people out there on social media who want it. Social prospecting is the art of finding those people, listening to what they have to say, and then engaging them.

How Social Prospecting Works

 

Social prospecting works by listening to conversations on social media to find good prospects for your business. The question is, just how can you do that, considering the number of conversations taking place on social media every moment of every day?

The answer is, first of all, to plan carefully what to listen for (more on that in a moment). The next step is to figure out how you’re going to do that. A social prospecting tool, which is designed to bring you the most relevant information, can help you prospect successfully and isolate the conversations that matter to your brand.

What Should You Be Listening For?

 

So now you’re clear on what social prospecting is – listening on social media to find strong leads for your brand – the big question is what should you listen for?

An obvious place to start of course is brand mentions. Looking for brand mentions will let you know who is talking about your business and what they’re saying, but to prospect successfully you’ll need to drill down beyond brand mentions. Competitor mentions can also be useful. Who is using your competitors? Even more importantly, who is complaining about your competitors? Show them why your business is a better choice.

Listen For Buying Signals

 

Customers on social media are constantly letting you know that they’re ready to buy. All you have to do is listen. People love to talk about purchases on social media, and frequently ask questions, share opinions, follow businesses that interest them or share pictures of intended purchases.

Listen out for key phrases that show intent to buy or a strong interest in finding the right products, such as:

  • I’m in the market for…
  • Can anyone recommend?
  • Where can I find?
  • I’m looking for …
  • Has anyone used this product?
  • Is it any good?
  • Is this available near me?
  • Where can I buy this?
  • I want to know more about …

Customers are giving clear indicators that they’re ready to buy. Social prospecting helps you hear those indicators.

Find Customers That Match Your Ideal Demographics

 

Another way to use social prospecting is to look for customers who match your ideal customer demographic. Say for example you offer a party planning service. With social prospecting, you can search for people who have made mention of needing to plan a leaving part or birthday do, or who are asking questions about party planning, venues or party supplies, and who live in your local area.

To maximize your success with social prospecting, choose a tool that lets you draw up profiles so you can find people who match those and see who is the closest fit for your business.

You’ve Found Your Leads – Now What?

 

You’ve used social prospecting to find your leads, now it’s time to convert them into customers. How can you go about doing just that? Start by:

  • Joining conversations and making your business known
  • Showing your value by helping prospects to solve their problems
  • Engaging them with content that’s been specially crafted to speak to their needs and answer their questions
  • Offering content that matches their point in the buying cycle, giving them the information they need and encouraging them to take the next step

Social prospecting is all about cutting through the noise of social media to find people who need a business like yours, then letting them know why you’re the best choice for them. Know what to listen for and build your social prospecting efforts around that to bring you the most promising new leads.

 

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Are You Talking to the Right People?

Social selling relies on connections, so how do you make sure you’re connecting with the right people? Talking to the wrong people can mean wasted time and much fewer leads. The trick is to qualify your leads before you even talk to them, but how can you do that?

Use Customer Profiles

To talk to the right people, you need to know who the right people are. That’s where customer profiles or personas can help you. By building up customer profiles, you know who you’re looking to connect with before you even start.

A detailed profile of your ideal customer can help you figure out:

  • Who they are
  • What their needs are
  • What specific problem you can solve for them
  • What kind of language they use (not what you think…read on!)

Armed with this information, you can go about finding your ideal customers, and reaching out to them in a way that speaks their language and directly addresses their needs.

Customer profiles also help you segment your prospects so you can tailor your social selling to each specific group, rather than using a catch all approach. A tailored approach is much more likely to bring you the results you want.

Customer profiles get you into the mind-set of your prospects so you can see your business through their eyes, and better understand how to present it in an appealing way. 

Listen To Your Customers

Your customers are the best people to tell you what they need and whether you can provide it. Listen carefully to what they’re saying on social media. What do they talk about, ask or complain about? What are they looking for?

The deeper your understanding of your customers, the more accurately you can determine how likely they are to do business with you. Pay attention to their intentions too; the way you approach a prospect who is looking for information will be different from how you approach a prospect who is showing signs of being ready to buy.

Do Your Research

Always research your leads before approaching them. With a group of prospects, that means understanding their needs, motivations and place in the buying cycle, as outlined above.

When it comes to individual contacts, make sure you know who they are and what they do. What makes them a good lead for you? Do they have the kind of purchasing power you need them to have? If they’re a business contact, what is their position in their company, and what power do they have to make or sway decisions?

When it comes to research, social prospecting is a must. Social prospecting means finding qualified leads from within your network and beyond, meaning that you’ll focus your efforts on the people who are most likely to convert.

Having a good grasp on who your leads are and what makes them qualified before you start will increase your chances of focusing your efforts on the right people, and converting leads into sales.

 

#TwoMinuteTuesdays – Take two minutes out of your Tuesday mornings to digest some interesting and informative content brought to you by the interlinkONE team. Have content ideas or questions you want discussed? Tweet at us @interlinkONE! 

How an Agile Framework Creates Satisfied Clients (and Developers)

Is something missing from your development strategy?

Many of us unfortunately stay in the dark when it comes to improving the way we do things. After all, we can never know that we’re doing something “wrong” until it is pointed out to us. If you feel like you are doing everything “right” in your software development and yet frequently come up against dissatisfied customers or blasé reviews, you’re certainly not alone. Although it’s tempting to look for one or two quick fixes, perhaps what’s really needed is an overhaul of the way you approach a project from day one.

That’s where agile software development comes into play.

Customer Satisfaction is the First Principle of Agile Development

Customer satisfaction is at the root of agile development. As the name “agile” implies, flexibility and a willingness to adapt to changes quickly is one characteristic that sets agile developers apart. Among the core principles set forth by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, customer satisfaction is listed first, highlighting its importance. After all, customers are the driving force behind software development. If the software doesn’t meet the needs of the end user, what purpose does it serve?

How to Keep Clients Happy During the Development Process

Listening to and understanding clients’ needs and then translating them into valuable software is certainly an art form. But building relationships with clients is an ongoing process, one in which you have countless opportunities to satisfy them and keep them happy. Here are some small but powerful ways to make each of your clients feel respected and valued.

  • Ditch PowerPoints, handouts and diagrams.

    In progress meetings, present your clients with a working sample of the software. This reduces confusion, allows questions or concerns to be raised in a more timely fashion, and builds trust between the client and the developers. Diagrams, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations all attempt to provide a visual representation of the software, but nothing beats the real thing. Plus, demoing the software itself, even if it is a work-in-progress, saves the developer time in the long run. Who honestly has time to create a PowerPoint when sitting down with the client and the software is more effective and efficient?

  • Don’t be on-time; be early.

    Many clients have reasonable expectations about the time it takes to develop a superior product. But at the same time, everyone loves to be surprised with early delivery. One of the key ways in which agile developers can create satisfied customers is by delivering updates earlier than expected. Set a realistic timeline for project deliverables, but build-in an extra day or two (or even longer) to guarantee that things are done before your client expects them. This underscores the fact that you’ve been working hard and gives the impression that this client is one of your top priorities. And from a client’s perspective, that feels good!

  • Collaborate closely with clients.

    This means meeting often to show the latest progress made to the software and embracing changes that need to be made, regardless of how late in the process they are brought to light. The founders of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development recommend delivering working software on a weekly basis rather than monthly. Even if your client has concerns or negative feedback, handling them in a collaborative and constructive way helps you turn them into satisfied (and hopefully repeat!) customers.

Developer Satisfaction is Also Key

The agile development framework seeks to make developers’ lives easier and more fulfilling, resulting in happy partnerships around the office, not just with clients. What makes a work environment satisfying can vary on an individual basis, but the following generally produce good results:

  • A collaborative environment, not an isolated one
  • Micro-managing is avoided in favor of building confidence and trust in employees, and to allow them to create their own workflows
  • Over-documentation is avoided to allow developers to focus and be efficient
  • A sustainable work pace is maintained to avoid employee burnout

At the heart of an agile software development framework is a responsiveness to the needs of both clients and developers. If you and/or your employees often feel fatigued and dissatisfied, don’t try a career change just yet. Instead, learn more about agile software development. It could alter the way you approach a software development project for the better—from beginning to end.

 

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing and business topics on the web.