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
- Job title and industry
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.
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Yes, you have worked really hard on this potential deal. Yes, you have spent countless hours communicating with this prospect. Yes, it is hard to walk away. But, it may just be time to let this one go. Whenever you are developing a relationship with a potential lead, a lot of time and effort most likely goes into it. But sometimes it’s just not enough and this prospect is not worth your time. Here are a few signs that should tell you its time to walk away:
Focused Solely on the Numbers
Numbers and prices are obviously a big part of any sale. But, that should come after a relationship has been formed. If a prospect is asking about the price and costs of everything right off the bat that most likely means they are already leaning on a different product or service, or are not interested in learning about what might actually be best suited for their needs. They want a quick solution that won’t break the bank and are not ready to take the time to find the right one.
Not a Decision Maker
At the end of the day, it is a decision maker that will close the deal with you. While communicating with a prospect, ask yourself if this person can actually make the decision. Do they know everyone that is involved? Can they tell you what they see for the future, after this deal is made? Are they openly communicating with you or relaying messages to someone else in their company?
Choosing an End Date
Make sure the prospect can give you an end date or period of time where they would like to start utilizing your product or service. If it is too open-ended or they appear to be dragging their feet they will most likely not close a deal any time soon. The last thing you want is emails or phone calls going back and forth for months on end with no positive end result.
Do They Understand What They Want?
When forming the relationship with a prospect, part of it is the understanding what exactly they are looking for. Can this person, in detail, express the needs of his or her company? Talk is cheap when it is broad and unhelpful. To best fit their needs and yours, you need to know what exactly they are looking for.
Fail to See the Value
You know your product or service is of value, but do they? Sometimes a prospect might not see the true value that your product or service will bring to them. If they need constant reminders and convincing then just maybe it is not the right fit for them. If they fail to see the value, then there most likely is no value in continuing to sell to them.
Lack of Communication
One of the easiest signs to a sale going nowhere is a lack of communication. If they are simply ignoring all of your emails or phone calls, or there are large gaps of time between responses then odds are they are uninterested. In selling, persistence is key. But, after a certain point, the time spent attempting to communicate with an uninterested prospect, is better served building a relationship with someone else.
Are They a ‘Yes Man?’
Communication is a two-way street. At first, you want to listen and research as much as possible to make sure you understand their needs. But, when it comes time to demonstrate and explain your product and service, what is their response? Are they asking questions and clarifying details? Do they seem engaged? Or are they simply nodding their head and going along with whatever you say? If it is the latter, interest in your particular product or service is probably low. By asking questions and having a dialogue, the prospect is truly deciding if it is right for them. If they stop asking questions or agree with whatever you are saying, then they are most likely already thinking about a competitor and have become dispassionate.
Now, if you are witnessing some of these signs, it may be time to walk away. But, that does not mean cut off all future communication. Times change and down the line, they may in fact be in need of your actual product or service. Keep the relationship you have built whether small or strong and follow up once again down the road to gauge if things have changed.
In the meantime, do not waste your time falling into the black hole of prospect chasing. Stay on top of solid leads and don’t waste time with those who are not serious about doing business.
Do inbound and content marketing mean the death of the salesman? There’s no doubt that the landscape of sales has changed dramatically over the last few years, with traditional tactics such as cold calling or door to door sales waning in popularity thanks to inbound marketing and the rise of content marketing. This is good news for customers, who can find what they want when they want it instead of fielding unwanted calls. It’s good news for businesses too, making it easier to focus on the customers who are most likely to buy. But where does that leave your business sales force? Is there a place for the salesman of old in the new landscape of inbound and content marketing and encouraging the customers to come to you? The answer is a resounding yes, if you employ some flexibility and make the best of both worlds.
Selling Has a New Face
Make no mistake about it, an important part of content and inbound marketing is driving sales, but in a more connected and less pushy way. Good inbound marketing acknowledges that increasingly more people are looking online for what they want and that your job is to have useful, engaging content ready for them when they reach you.
Good quality content and well planned inbound marketing don’t replace sales – they help to drive them. By giving your visitors the information they want, you are encouraging them to do business with you. That’s where inbound marketing and traditional sales meet.
A Warm Welcome and Useful Follow Up
Inbound marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, part of your marketing plan should be to foster good connections with your customers by giving them a strong sense of your brand’s personality and the people behind your online presence. A welcoming presence that makes your customer feel valued is a key part of any marketing, inbound or outbound. As well as in your content itself, consider how you can generate that feeling when following up on leads generated by your inbound marketing efforts.
Engaging with customers who have shown strong interest in your content means utilizing your sales force to talk directly to people who are already interested in what you have to sell. By looking at the content that piqued their interest, your sales force can start a conversation that hones in on a customer’s immediate problems, concerns and needs.
Invite Your Customers and Be Ready When They Arrive
Instead of seeing your marketing and selling departments as separate, it’s time to realize that the two can offer each other valuable insight. Your marketing department understands your customers and can craft the content that will invite them to your digital doorstep. Your sales department understands how to qualify leads and how to talk to your customers to hone in on their needs, figure out how you can help, and close the sale.
By working together, your marketing and sales people can formulate a cohesive strategy for catching the attention of customers who are looking for just what you are selling, and communicating clearly with them when they arrive. You’ll still be selling, but in a much more focused and responsive way that is better for you and your customers.
Sometimes the usual phone call or email is just the complete wrong way to follow-up with leads. While tempting, keep in mind that you may catch them at a bad time, lead them to feeling like they’re “being sold,” or have them ask you to stop attempting altogether. How can you spark action and interest into that lead without a hard sell? Simple! Here are 9 types of information you can send to your leads to keep their attention:
Webinars are a convenient way of educating a large audience with minimal costs associated. What is also great about them is that they can be recorded! If you’re going to deliver a great presentation that highlights your expertise, make the most of it by saving the recording and using it as a sales tool for future leads and inquiries.
Recorded Sales Demonstrations
In sales, you may come across a situation where you have to deliver multiple demos for the same company before you can close the deal. While every point of contact is an opportunity to get closer to the lead, make sure they don’t forget you (and can show you off to colleagues) by sending them a recorded demo. That way, they can refer back to it at their convenience and never forget the greatest parts of your software. For example, check out our drag-and-drop demo for our mobile website builder, iFlyMobi!
Digital Company Brochures
If you have a fantastic printed brochure, turn the original PDF file of it into an electronic sales tool! It’s a great way to sum up all of your company’s benefits and services into one well-designed package, and your leads can then save it on their desktop. Be sure to share this via a software that handles electronic fulfullment so that you have a history record of sending it.
Educate your audience with an enticing eBook that includes interesting facts about your audience’s pain points, and the solutions to those problems. You can subtly promote your services and products within them, but have this eBook act as a reminder to all that you’re the answer to their problems. Take a look at our eBook, “Guide to Selling Marketing Services” for inspiration.
Position yourself as the expert by giving tips, best practices, and a summary of services in 1-2 minute video clips. Send this along to your prospects as a conversation starter, and let them get to know you through creative videos.
If you have team members who are fantastic speakers, podcasts may be the best approach to take when trying to capture their knowledge. You can get away with longer podcast sessions as opposed to videos because the listener can listen in the car, at their desk over lunch, or on their morning run. Invite educational guests and keep folks coming back monthly for more knowledge!
If you have a great graphic design team, and some captivating statistics, highlight both of these resources in an infographic (like this one). They’re interesting, fun to look at, and share-worthy. You can share information about the industries your target audiences are in, how you have increased success for clients, or how you’re keeping up with new technologies.
Service and Product Sell Sheets
Perhaps your leads don’t need the entire brochure, all they may want is a one-pager that goes over key benefits of one service or product they may be interested in. Think real estate; they’ve mastered the 1 page sell. What’s great about having electronic sales sheets of your various offerings is that you can send a mixture of them depending on what your lead needs, and not clutter up their mind with too many ancillary services that don’t suit them.
This sales tool is beneficial for two big reasons. If you deliver a survey with weighted questions, you can customize the end results of what the survey would say based on the lead’s answers. It also helps you qualify the lead in finding out what type of offerings would best fit their needs.
The bottom line?
The sales process doesn’t always have to be direct. Take more of an inbound marketing approach and let them come to you. Sometimes the best way to keep the conversation going is to send educational and informative materials that will captivate your leads and get them excited about what you have to say so when they are ready, they come to the expert first (pssst…that’ll be you!)
Need a reminder of these great tips? Print this handy cheat sheet:
Are your sales in a slump?
Or maybe your sales are just not where you want them to be. Without sales, you don’t have a business making money. So slumping sales aren’t just a downer, it can be downright scary for everyone in the company because the bottom line is that everyone feels the effects. Here are some ways you can get your sales groove back and get the numbers moving in the right direction:
– – – – – – –
1. Look at the products and services you offer.
Are you missing anything? Is there something that you can offer that would complement your current offerings? A new product or service can really add some oomph to sales for a company.
Or perhaps it’s how it’s all packaged. Can you bundle certain products or services in a way that not only makes sense, but exudes “newness” as well? The “newness” is exciting and that excitement can shine through in your marketing materials and beyond. And that excitement is contagious to the point where your prospects and current customers want to hop on board and work with you.
2. Brainstorm on the true wants and needs of your audience.
Wants and needs can change. And your marketing materials and sales strategies may not have changed along with those various wants and needs. So have employees from all departments answer the wants and needs question so you can get a diverse sampling of responses.
You may want to contact some of your customers and ask them. They may surprise you with their answers. By adjusting some of your materials (hopefully you won’t need to make a major overhaul) and how you approach your audience, you will see the sales numbers improve.
3. Along with determining the current wants and needs, you should re-evaluate the benefits your products and services offer.
A benefit that would be a great talking point last year may be outdated and impractical now. So update your benefits and make sure that your sales department stresses the new, current benefits to your prospects and customers.
4. Celebrate the little victories.
Your business should be recognizing its hard workers. A happy work environment includes one in which its employees are given the high-five for their ideas, breakthroughs and hitting milestones. And happy employees work harder to hit those goals and keep those customers coming back.
5. Create new sales goals.
When was the last time your sales goals were updated? It’s not easy to get excited about goals if they haven’t been tweaked or brought up-to-date in a long time.
6. Take a walk down memory lane.
While “new” is great, sometimes you should look back to see what you did in the past that worked. Revisit the time that you landed a huge, exciting customer. Or the time that a particular marketing strategy resulted in a huge influx of sales. What was it about those times that seemed to resonate with your audience and create those great results? You don’t want to go back in time and just hit the repeat button, but you do want to look at what actions could translate to today’s market and replicate that.