1.1 how social media can help you close more sales.

learn more


How effective is your social media strategy? Are you consistently making sales based upon your online activity? If not, social media has probably become more of a distraction than a tool for your business. The fact of the matter is that social sites can be invaluable resources for salespeople. But they can also be enormous time- and energy-drains. So in this article we will discuss how to get the highest possible ROI from your social media investment. This is the complete guide to the art of social selling.

what is social selling?

The term ‘social selling’ is actually somewhat misleading.  It seems to imply that social media is a platform for making sales.  But that’s not quite right.  In fact, social media is a platform for engaging customers, inspiring loyalty, building targeted communities, and finding new markets for products. 

So it is a mistake to use social media for blatant, traditional forms of advertising or for making the so-called hard sell.  Instead, social selling means opening a dialogue with prospective buyers, demonstrating the value of your product, and planting the seed of the sell in a subtle, non-intrusive way.

identifying opportunities to sell

There has never been a better market research tool than social media.  So tracking down prospective buyers is the cornerstone of social selling.  To do so, you must of course find communities who need what you are selling.  Fortunately, people use social media to broadcast their needs. 

So use programs like Tweetdeck, Google Alerts, and social media-integrated CRM software to track hashtags and keywords of relevance to your industry.  Research the interests and demographics of your current customers and followers.  Understand who is most interested in your product, and then reach out to them. 

conducting prospect research

Once you have identified the individuals, companies and communities most likely to buy, it is time to launch the second crucial phase of social research: prospect research. Find out everything you can about your prospects. The better you know them, the better able you will be to appeal to their interests and provide tailored solutions to their needs. By following your prospects, you can monitor their activity and watch for opportunities to sell based upon what they say.

never make another cold call

Social media offers many ways to casually approach prospects based upon common interests. You can respond to their posts, answer questions they have asked, converse with them via groups you are both members of, and even ask mutual friends to introduce you. Long before you contact them directly to make your pitch, you can demonstrate the value you have to offer and prove your relevance. By using social media effectively, you can open a casual dialogue and meet prospects on common ground.

watch the competition

Just as you should watch prospects for opportunities to sell, so too should you watch competitors in order to keep pace with changes impacting your industry.  So follow the companies directly to see what they are up to, but also keep a close watch on what reviewers and customers are saying about them.  If they are being criticized for a flaw in their product, for example, advertise how effectively your product performs in their area of weakness.  Social media allows you to swiftly identify and seize opportunities. 

loyalty and consistency

To maintain loyal customers, you must offer value.  So use social media to reward your followers with exclusive deals and promotions.  Reward customers for engaging with your site, incentivise them to share your content, and listen to their criticisms.  Social media is a powerful tool for PR and for receiving feedback from customers that will help you improve your services. 

Selling has always been social.  But today, the social skills a salesperson needs have shifted into a new digital landscape.  The principles have remained the same, but the tools of the trade have changed.  If you can learn to wield them efficiently, you’ll find that the tools of social media hold tremendous advantages and provide countless new opportunities to expand customer bases and make sales.

1.2 from novice to ninja: how to drive more sales with these social media tools


Social media is a notoriously frustrating tool for many sales professionals today.  It is constantly evolving and its results are difficult to quantify.  What’s more, for those who lack experience working with social sites in a professional capacity, these platforms can become tremendous distractions in the workplace.  So how can professionals leverage social media productively and tap into the vast networking potential these websites hold?  And what tools can we employ to streamline our efforts and maximise results? 

To take your social media skills to the next level, you must first learn to utilise these powerful, yet all too often overlooked, apps and features. 

capitalizing on LinkedIn’s “in common with” listing

This feature is tremendously useful for sales professionals using LinkedIn to generate leads and scout prospects.  After making a connection, scroll about halfway down the right hand column of the other user’s profile, and you’ll see a box titled “In Common With.”  Here you can quickly see which friends, companies, groups, skills, and locations you have in common.  This, of course, provides an easy entry point for opening a conversation with potential customers.  So by using this brilliant feature, you can add a great deal of warmth to your cold calls and drastically improve your odds of making the sale. 

leveraging LinkedIn’s "how you're connected" feature

But what if you’re not yet connected? Can you still find out what you have in common with prospective customers? To some extent, yes. By using the “How You’re Connected” feature, you can see which friends or colleagues you have in common with the person of interest and can even see how closely linked your mutual connections are. This way, you can easily open a dialogue by asking one of your contacts to introduce you. LinkedIn even offers a “Get Introduced” link to streamline the whole process.

looking at LinkedIn’s “skills & expertise” section

The more you know about a lead, the better position you will be in to sell them your product or service. So be sure to scroll to the bottom of their profile to review their skills and expertise. By doing so, you will be able to better appeal to their strengths, engage them on points of interest, and understand what their primary working responsibilities entail.

using Twitter lists

For those not utilising the right tools and features, Twitter can be a chaotic place.  So it is vital for sales professionals to organise and track their leads in the most streamlined way possible.  To that end, Twitter Lists are invaluable.  They allow you to create a one-stop, targeted feed that only features Tweets from the users you are interested in.  You can create many different lists according to the specific categories you want to follow, and populate them with the leads you need to keep tabs on.  This way, when your prospects broadcast challenges they are facing or obstacles they are struggling to overcome, you can seize the opportunity to offer a solution. 

tracking hashtags

Using a service like Hootsuite or Keyhole, you can efficiently track trending topics in your industry via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These programs allow you to monitor specific hashtags and phrases to see the activity being generated around them, thereby keeping a finger on the pulse of your business. Hashtag and keyword tracking gives insight, for example, into the way customers are responding to your products, your competitors’ products, or the recent developments in your marketplace. When you know what is important to your leads, you can craft pitches that are more relevant and compelling.

utilising quora

Quora is a place people go to ask questions.  So if your leads are using it, Quora is a brilliant place to learn about the challenges and problems they are encountering in their work.  You can browse through a list of previous questions they have asked, and see how other users answered them, which will allow you to offer them new solutions and deeper insights. 

Quora is also a great place to establish yourself as an informational resource and expert in your field.  By answering questions posed by those in your industry, you can inspire gratitude, raise your public profile, and demonstrate your relevance.  

Having the right tools for the job makes all the difference.  So make the most of social media, and streamline the process of generating leads and forging connections by using these powerful features. When you see the impact it has on sales, you’ll be glad you did.



1.3 maximise sales by using social media productively


Social media can be a massive waste of time.  But it can also serve as a phenomenal tool for enhancing productivity, saving money and delivering sales for professionals in nearly every industry.  Intention, though, is the difference between the former and the latter.  So to make your investment in social media worthwhile requires a well-defined plan, clear goals, and strict time management. 

For those looking to establish an efficient and effective social media sales plan, these Dos and Don’ts provide a vital roadmap for maximising sales:

do utilize the advanced features each social site offers

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (not to mention the dozens of other social sites out there) are very different platforms.  Each has its own style, ethos, advantages, and shortcomings.  So it is foolish to try to use them all in the same way or lump them all together into one strategy.  Rather, each site should be used to achieve an end best suited to its strengths.   

In practice, this means utilising the tools for search, connection, outreach and expression on each site to their full potentials.  Advanced search on LinkedIn, for instance, allows users to search for leads by company size and seniority level, while Facebook provides a broad range of promoted post options and Twitter allows users to Direct Message other users.  So research the tools, tricks and tips you can use to get the most out of your social platforms, and boost your sales by putting them to work for you today. 

don't continually broadcast

Oversaturation is a quick way to lose relevance.  So post regularly, but don’t post frivolously.  We often hear about the importance of staying active and visible on social sites.  But users must not lose sight of the necessity of posting quality, rather than mere quantity.  Find ways to entertain, educate or inspire your audience.  Don’t annoy them. 

do add value

For salespeople, social media is all about giving. To sell a product today, you must first inspire loyalty. To do that, you must offer value in each piece of content you post online. Consumers flooded with content have learned to filter out the white noise from the useful information. So to capture the attention you need to garner sales, you must provide valuable expertise, information, or entertainment that shows followers you are worth their time. Social networks are a forum for exchange. You must give to get.

don’t squander resources

Distraction is the greatest danger of using social media in a professional setting.  It is all-too-easy to follow useless tangents or sink hours into unproductive browsing.  So in addition to forming a clear plan and using a methodological approach in your outreach, it is also crucial to employ monitoring and automating services to streamline your efforts. 

Use CRM software to store the valuable information you learn about prospects and implement tools for tracking progress, automating time-intensive tasks, and monitoring key businesses and contacts.  Invest in the tools you need to stay productive. 

do make meaningful connections

Social media is an invaluable tool for conducting research on prospective customers. Knowledge gleaned online provides opportunities to spark meaningful connections over common interests. SM research opens doors for acquiring introductions, gives insight into the challenges your prospects face, and highlights opportunities to offer greater value. So use social networks to learn about potential customers before approaching them with pitches.

don't limit yourself to prospecting

Social media is not a forum for making sales. It is a forum for making the connections that lead to sales. It is an avenue for demonstrating expertise, relevance, and value. So don’t use social sites to pitch or blatantly advertise. But also don’t limit yourself to merely prospecting. Use social media to open conversations, gain introductions, and pioneer relationships that generate sales.

Social media streamlines the sales process––but only when used in a thoughtful and conscientious way. So define what you want to accomplish and conduct your social selling with quality and efficiency at the forefront of all you do. By consistently posting meaningful content, you’ll boost the value of your outreach and reap the rewards of having a strong professional network.



1.4 which social media platforms drive the most sales?

Today, there are countless social media platforms online, each offering its own distinct advantages.  So salespeople looking to harness the potential of digital networks have many options and much to learn about these fast-evolving communities.  We must therefore find ways to make our social media investments as productive as possible.  So it is vital to know which platforms drive the most sales and align most closely with the strengths of your business.

To help you make the most of social media, this article outlines the crucial techniques savvy salespeople use to acquire leads and make sales on the three most important platforms out there:

LinkedIn

network expansion

Because LinkedIn is a dedicated professional forum, expanding your network as widely as possible is far more important here than on any other social site. To this end, you should regularly browse the “People You May Know” listings, hunt through the connections of your 1st degree connections, and add everyone you meet on a day-to-day basis. The wider your network, the better. So dedicate time each week to finding new connections.

InMail

InMail is a tremendously effective paid messaging service LinkedIn offers, which is 30x more likely to receive a response than a cold call.  It allows you to bypass the notoriously difficult call screeners most executives rely upon.  It puts a message in a personal inbox that receives few messages, and—crucially—LinkedIn allows you to send InMail even to those you haven’t connected with yet. 

introductions

Apart from InMail, there are also a few free tools you can use to forge connections.  (This is where having a huge network comes in handy.)  When you look at the profile of a non-connection, LinkedIn shows you if you have any connections in common.  If you do, don’t hesitate to ask your mutual acquaintance to introduce you.  If you don’t, groups are your next best resource. 

Join the groups your prospect is in (or would be likely to join) and LinkedIn will allow you to see more information about that person.  You can also attempt to engage them through groups by answering questions they have posed or by responding to comments they have left. 

Facebook

the power of images

Images are perhaps the most potent sales tool there is, and Facebook is particularly well suited to circulating images of your products.  So if you are leveraging Facebook as a sales tool, it is vital to take brilliant, high-quality pictures that will attract attention and motivate sharing. 

providing value

To build a valuable community on Facebook, you must offer value to your community.  So offer discounts and promotions exclusively to your Facebook fans to encourage customers to follow and engage with your page.  Contests and drawings that require direct engagement are also a great strategy for increasing activity on your page. 

building community

More than any other social site on our list, Facebook is a community-building tool.  So focus all your efforts on connecting with a group of users who are deeply interested in your industry or business niche.  The value of Facebook lies in the targeted communities it allows us to hone in on, saving marketing resources by only addressing those with a strong interest in hearing what we have to say. 

Twitter

watching for opportunities

Follow the companies and prospects you are interested in.  Monitor their feeds for opportunities to sell, and use Twitter Lists to create filtered feeds that focus in on particular groups of your prospects.  Then, when these users post about challenges or needs they have, you will be ready to step in which a timely pitch. 

launching dialogue

The more engaged you can be with your community, the more likely you are to forge a productive relationship with its members.  So not only should you follow and comment on relevant posts from your prospects, but you should also go the extra mile and set up Twitter Chats to bring people together in a dialogue.  Facilitate conversations and provide learning resources.  When you provide value, value returns. 

buying signals

Seek signals that users are ready to buy.  Do hashtag and keyword research for phrases like “does anyone know” or “can you recommend” or “I need advice.”  When people present challenges, you should be poised to provide solutions. 

 

Social media is a powerful sales resource - but only for those who can effectively use it.  By employing these potent techniques, you’ll drive your social media skills to the next level and start seeing the results you need.

1.5 why every sales person needs to have a concrete social media strategy


For some business owners, social media has negative connotations in the workplace. It is seen as a distraction and an unproductive use of time. Many managers believe their teams can be just as effective over the phone and via email. Yet while social media can certainly be a distraction if used without clear goals and a comprehensive plan, when utilised correctly, it is an invaluable resource for each and every individual working in a sales environment.

The ways in which you use social media at work should differ greatly from how you use it in your personal time and in time, when you can show its effectiveness, your boss will soon see your side.

why social media is worth your time

Social media is a remarkably powerful tool for conducting market research, introducing products to new communities, opening dialogues with customers about how to improve products, building brand recognition, and inspiring loyalty. 

Social media also allows businesses to build communities of potential customers and to target their marketing efforts directly to those who are most likely to buy.  It also allows individual sales people to build up

It also allows individual sales people to build up a rapport with their specific account clients and develop client relationships which go beyond the occasional phone call or email. Social media saves marketing money and allows you to connect with high-value prospects on an intimate, personal level.

The time you invest in sending out a few social media messages negates the need for extensive print runs of marketing leaflets and offline marketing campaign materials, which may not be necessary for all your clients.

the value of strategy

Using social media in the workplace without a clear strategy is a mistake.  Having a clear plan and concrete goals is the only way to ensure that social media consumes minimal time and produces maximum results. 

All sales people using social media need to be appropriately trained and fully versed in their role in using it in the workplace.These platforms do invite distraction and lend themselves to hours of unproductive browsing.  Professional users must be careful to define goals, and

Professional users must be careful to define goals, and log on each day with a set of intentions: X amount of time will be dedicated to responding to customers, X amount of time will be used for scouting new prospects, X amount of time will go toward updating content, and so forth. Any sales person following an effective strategy will soon see results.

identifying goals

Before you can define a clear plan, you must sit down to define goals.  Start broadly and then narrow your aims down to specific strategies. For example,

acquire new customers

  • Research new markets
  • Identify new prospects
  • Use hashtag and keyword research to identify individuals and communities who are discussing problems that can be solved with our product.

improve your offerings

  • Open a dialogue with your customers
  • Respond directly to complaints and bad reviews
  • Hold a contest to solicit ideas for improving X product

increase frequency of repeat purchases

  • Build loyalty amongst customers
  • Offer valuable discounts to those who engage with our social media presence
  • Provide quality content to educate and/or entertain members of our online communities. 

outpace the competition

  • Learn what people are saying about their products
  • Create marketing or product improvements that directly address shortcomings in our competitor’s product

schedule for success

Social media is only a small part of your role as a sales person and therefore you need to maximise the effects of your work without allowing it to take over and eat into the time dedicated to other elements of your day’s schedule.

Effective social media marketing and management requires scheduling tools and built into your social media strategy should be a choice of tool for scheduled posts and messages. Tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social are designed to improve productivity and also deliver the core brand message of your company.

The modern sales person probably uses social media every day in their personal lives and transferring these skills effectively for the workplace doesn’t have to be a struggle. With a head start due to their personal experiences, almost every sales person can pick up and effectively work with social media alongside their other job requirements, as long as there is a strategy in place to guide them in the right direction.

Ignoring social media will limit the development of your career and stunt your growth in your industry whilst embracing means you have another string to your bow and are a highly employable and primed to be a successful sales person in any modern firm.