Social selling is among the hottest topics in Digital Marketing. This is fueled by the need to drive engagement online – faster. Realizing that:
- 57% of the buying process is completed before a prospect calls you, (CEB 2013)
- 43% of marketers acquired a client on LinkedIn – (HubSpot 2013 State of Inbound Marketing), and
- 6% of salespeople using social media outperformed their peers (Social Media & Sales Quota Survey),
it is clear that being active online is critical for firms and that social selling is here to stay.
What would a good strategy look like to lead Linda (CIO character from a previous social selling blog post) to a positive customer relationship and sale?
Step 1: Find-ability
First stop is to make sure that Linda has a well crafted LinkedIn profile, and that her company has both a professionally crafted website, and LinkedIn company page. She may also want to make sure she and her company has a good presence on Facebook including a company page – depending on the customer she is approaching. This includes a professional headshot – and real information about her real job. There are many scammers on the web and social spaces, so a real photo to show you as a real person – is important.
Step 2: NO-Request Connect
In our last view of Linda, she found a viable reason for a connection with a marketing executive. Then as soon as the link was established – she immediately strained the fragile relationship by making a request for a 10 minute discussion about her offering. Contribute to the relationship to strengthen it, before making any requests. When an interesting topic comes up, or if Linda’s firm has some genuinely interesting content – forward it to the prospect with a short explanatory note … with no expectation or request in return.
Step 3: Build Credibility
Linda’s firm should be blogging about their product or service topic. This should be leveraged on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social channels. Linda may want to repost these on LinkedIn, and retweet and link back to these brand promoting topics. This starts to establish her credibility in that domain. Critical to this stage is keeping a steady pace. She does not want to repost a flurry of content, to then disappear for weeks, followed by another flurry of content. Consistency will build recognition, credibility and more respect than sporadic information reposting.
Linda’s consistent posts will be spotted by most prospects, slowly building credibility over time.
Step 4: Broaden the Relation
Find another channel with which to engage the prospect. Find them on Twitter, Pinterest, another social channel, and connect with them there also. This will help Linda further establish the relationship, as she also chooses to selectively retweet, repost, or engage with the prospect in some way on the other channel. Again she should refrain from making a request. By using the second channel to continue reposting information related to her product – it continues to build credibility more broadly.
Step 5: Over time – Engage
While Linda gave the relation a chance to get established in depth and breadth, she built credibility for her firm and herself with her steady content marketing efforts. Now she engages the prospect with a few light questions that lead to greater consideration of her offering. Perhaps asking about the prospect’s ROI on her last email campaign, citing some great tips in an ebook Linda’s firm just published … then offer to send the prospect a free copy, if interested.
Step 6: Drive Preference & Sell
After mentioning that she would check in with the prospect again in a few days, Linda did so – now testing for pain points, and whether the content / solution seemed useful for the prospect’s business. This involves some weeding out of prospect who truly do not need the offering, and finding the prospects who are now interested in Linda’s offering.
Now is the right time to engage the prospect in an in-person telephone call – and sales cycle.
These six steps do take some time and planning. However, they also ensure you are not immediately losing your heard-earned links to your prospects – or worse yet disengaging them from your firm – like the 90% of decision makers who NEVER answer a cold-call (LinkedIn eBook: 6 Steps to Accelerating Sales).
Social selling strategy – use your head or lose your edge.