Social Selling: A Methodology
Today’s economy demands any aspiring entrepreneur act with the wit and prowess of a corporation, same for local businesses. We owe it to ourselves and each other as business professionals to operate with certain methodologies that not only enrich the entrepreneur but the industry as well. Let’s dive right in.
Are’s and Are Not’s
As an entrepreneur operating in the social selling environment, your mission is to be as knowledgeable on what your methods and goals are and are not. Let’s briefly remind ourselves of what these truly are.
Your primary goals in Social Selling are to:
Relationships are key in any business venture. This is how you network, establish a reputation in your industry and/or community, and develop resources that may be of use to you later on down the road.
Establish Your Reputation
It’s usually true - your reputation (as an individual AND a business) will precede you quite often. Make sure you’re finding ways to present yourself in a professional, personable, and unique way that’s memorable in a good way.
Gain Target Market Visibility
Hopefully, by this point, you have already established a solid visual of who makes up your target market. If not, please visit that step, then return here. Having visibility within your target market is key. Though each of these aspects are mostly intertwined, your market visibility is what will most fuel the spinning of your “business wheel” so to speak.
Deliver Value to Your Target Market
We know that you and your business have a great deal of value. Why represent it or share it if that weren’t the case? The goal is to establish that value and deliver it accurately to your market, so they can fully understand the how and why behind it. Again, these are all interconnected!
A preceded reputation does not a credible reputation make. As you and your business grow, it’s important to find ways, whether it be through established people or mediums like reputable news outlets or publications, to procure evidence of credibility. This can be through endorsements, reviews, or other creative means.
Seems easy enough, right? Mostly so, but before we move on, let’s make sure we establish some Not’s so that you are able to move forward confidently, with realistic intentions and perspectives in mind.
Social selling is not:
Delivering the hard sell or closing deals on Linkedin or other social media.
Later on in this article, we make recommendations for using certain tools, including Linkedin and other social channels. However, this does not mean that Linkedin is your end-all-be-all home for landing sales. Delivering the hard sell through social is a huge turn off for prospective sales leads and could severely put a damper on all of your related hard work. Avoid this if at all possible.
A replacement for talking to prospects.
In an interview with Inc., social selling expert Mario Martinez Jr. advises that “your goal is to take every online conversation to offline.” While social selling in the online world can help you cover a lot of ground in a short time, that doesn’t take away the true value derived from a one on one actual conversations where you are physically in front of another human, or in this case, a new prospect. Don’t depend on social media as a crutch for all things, but a brighter gateway to traditional, successful business methods.
A magic bullet for making quota.
Surprise, y’all - there is no magic bullet here! A common misconception that there is a simple, one-step way to making that quota, or closing that last sale that the Influencers have and we just don’t know what it is for us, yet. Hate to break it to you, but the magic bullet is truly this: hard work, dedication, and consistency. These, and a few other tips we’ll cover here in a bit, are your actual path to success.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Linkedin will serve as your home for many tasks and opportunities to network with potential clients and partners. If you are ready to take a step in the direction of expanding your LI capabilities, then check out the Linkedin Sales Navigator. Though there are costs associated with the program, Sales Navigator helps users easily discover, save, and segment Linkedin leads. Users also may choose the advanced search option that breaks down potential or ideal buyers into categories such as title, company size, and so much more.
LinkedIn Social Selling Index
In addition to Sales Navigator, Linkedin also offers a Social Selling Index, which works in tandem together to better inform your sales strategy. This tool creates scores from a ranking system based on the “four pillars of social selling,” suggesting improvements along the way that help users in areas they may be lacking.
Hootsuite or SproutSocial
If you find yourself scrambling for time to post content each day from your social channels, we recommend investing in a Content Resource Management or CRM tool, such as HootSuite or SproutSocial. Each program has their own specs, though both accomplish the same tasks: scheduling out content across several social media channels at once, while also sharing analytics about your social performance and tips on how to improve and maximize your efforts. Give each a free trial run before settling on your final choice. We at GSATi have used both programs over the last several years, and continue to use SproutSocial as of today.
Facebook, Linkedin, and Google+ Groups
Joining groups on social media channels is a great way to reach new sales leads without the financial expense. Within each platform, there are truly thousands of different groups, many that are quite niche, while others are a bit broader. While some groups have specific rules against members posting promotions and using the group as a networking tool, you are generally safe in using these environments to your advantage.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Business Insights
Once you have created Business Profiles for your organization or business on each social media channel - specifically Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - you as a user are offered a basic set of analytics insight tools on each platform. These analytics provide insight on who your customer is, when they see your interactions, how they are interacting with your content, and when someone chooses to “unlike” your page, among other things. These insights are some of the most helpful, free information available to you when it comes to social listening and audience growth. Use these tools to help better define your strategies long-term and short-term.
We’ve loved HubSpot Marketing for years now. HubSpot a great hub, for lack of a better term, for educational opportunities on pretty much any topic relating to social selling, effective marketing, and business growth. They also offer an extensive platform for sales lead tracking purposes, with a free level as well for smaller teams. Definitely look into this resource when you need a strong, valid place to look for more advice when you’ve exhausted these aforementioned resources.
Look Your Best
Much like in the real world, your digital presentation is just as important as your physical presentation. No matter where your page or account pops up, your profile picture and overall layout is the first thing a new or returning user sees from your organization or business. To ensure their first impression is a great one, we recommend maintaining an up to date profile picture, such as a headshot, a descriptive and well-written bio, are the best way for a user to reach out and contact you quickly and easily.
Build Your Cred(ibility)
Another application of the real world - your reputation, or at least your business reputation, will often precede you. That’s why it’s important to build your own credibility along your business journey that establishes your presence as an ethical, trustworthy entity. These sentiments are built with every tweet, every post or comment made across social media as well as in person. Use your posts not just as sales opportunities, but as ways for you to express your personality and your values. This is how you will truly reach and connect with potential leads.
Keep track where you’ve come from, and where you’re headed.
We can learn so much about where we are headed, from where we have come. This (obviously) also applies to sales and marketing efforts. Keep track of your efforts, whether it be through a content calendar, a journal, or tracking systems like Trello or Monday.com. We as humans can only absorb and remember so much information and memory. To have a tracking system in place that is used as a place of reference not only better educates our future decisions, but also leaves a few breadcrumbs that we can re-implement in the future, such as old shared articles, or milestones that deserve celebrating again.
Engage & Interact
Your followers and potential clients don’t want an endless cycle of posts and shared material from your business and organization. They crave interaction, validation and support from the brands they know and love. Our sales demographic is changing rapidly, and placing greater value in the relationship they can build with brands, and therefore become ultimate brand loyalists. We talk about this a lot in our article on Generation Z. Engage with your customers by liking their posts and comments, or try commenting on their content as well. Want to meet the ultimate customer goal? Re-share their content via your account with a little message and that customer is hooked. It may seem frivolous at first, but we can almost guarantee your reputation as a business will quickly blossom. BUT tread lightly - make a comment that seems ignorant, or share content that is potentially “problematic,” and you’ll lose those new prospects as quickly as they were gained.
Share Your Success and the Success of Others
User testimonials and success stories help solidify your validity and efficacy as a business or organization. It’s also the perfect opportunity to apply a few of our aforementioned tips. Testimonials and success stories, or even reviews, provide an insight to a user that only a fellow user can provide with an inherent built-in trust. A user will often only make a purchase, or choose to interact with a brand, based on the sole recommendation of another user. Gather as many testimonials as possible, and sprinkle these stories throughout your planned content production.
Get out of social and into the email.
If it’s feasible for everyone, you’ll want to convert these social followers to email subscribers, and eventually, real-life connections. Once you’ve done the general back and forth online, it’s easier to suggest meeting and networking in an offline setting, such as over a cup of coffee or a phone call. That real-life connection is the one-way ticket (most of the time) to a secured sale, and a secured loyal customer for a long time. That in itself pays it forward for you and your business, by showing to yourself and the rest of your audience that you’re real, your product is valid, and people support you. Do this when and where you can as often as you can.
Wrapping it Up
We understand and recognize that these aren’t end all, be all solutions to all of your social selling ventures and needs. You will find yourself in situations that many people have experienced before, but you will also find yourself experiencing and resolving problems that have never been seen before. Either way, you have an established set of tools, tips, and methodologies to help guide you down the path of success, whatever that may look like for you. Always remember to work hard, play harder, and stay true and consistent to your passions. With those ideals in mind, we’re sure your success isn’t that far away.
Looking to get a venture started and need further guidance? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.