I recently came across an interesting article from SellingPower titled 5 Tips for Leveraging Social Networks to Sell. The post opens with a reference to an InsideView whitepaper that states how “sales executives and B2B companies that ‘lack an established social media presence’ are ‘far less capable of effectively gaining the attention of prospects who are already fully engaged on the social Web.’”
The article proceeds to offer five great tips for socially novice companies on how to approach social selling.
As a social media manager, I saw an opportunity to build on each tip with an immediate action item that can help you get the ball rolling, rather than just thinking about it rolling…or preparing for it to roll…or something like that.
Here it goes.
TIP #1. “Evaluate what you're already doing. Many people on your team probably already use LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, etc. Take stock of how you're currently connecting with and listening to customers, and see what seems to be working. Where are you successfully engaging and building relationships with prospects and customers?”
ACTION ITEM: Encourage reps to share industry-relevant and personal interest content through your own social networks; this can help establish them as credible thought leaders and unique individuals—both of which can facilitate a genuine connection with their prospects.
At Brainshark, I send out a weekly email with Twitter and LinkedIn-ready links to share. Not only does this make it easy for internal team members to promote blog posts, news articles, and industry updates, it helps our company content reach a broader audience.
TIP #2. “Start by listening. Just as you wouldn't run into a cocktail party and start shoving your business card under everyone's noses, don't jump on Twitter and start jabbering about your business.”
ACTION ITEM: As a salesperson, you need to have people to listen to before you can listen. So follow the obvious customers and partners in your field.
Once you’ve done that, pick 3-4 keywords or themes that you want to pay attention to on social media. Create a stream on HootSuite that will track any and every tweet that covers this topic. This will not only give you a great sense of the kind of content that exists around these themes, but it’s a great way to keep up with trends and discover new voices in those areas.
TIP #3. “Share information. Create a way for your team members to share information internally. There are a variety of CRM-compatible tools to facilitate the tracking and sharing of information, company-wide. So, if your marketing manager meets a prospect at a trade show who loves to ride horses, that information can be entered into a collaborative database and used to strengthen ties during follow up calls.”
ACTION ITEM: Implement gamification initiatives that incentivize sharing prospect information, competitive intelligence, upcoming events relevant to your company/roles, and thought leadership that supports (or challenges) your company. For example, Influitive and Salesforce Chatter make it really easy for Salesforce users to socialize content internally and collaborate. Other platforms to consider are JIVE and Yammer, depending on your needs.
TIP #4. “Commit to the process. Building relationships online is not something you can do all at once. Realize you may not see the payoff right away, and commit to three to six months before you evaluate your efforts.”
ACTION ITEM: For reps, if you’ve identified certain relationships that you want to develop via social, make it a point to post content that either involves them directly or that you know they are interested in. Mention them in your posts, comment on theirs, and engage with them regularly. If what you are posting is valuable, they will be enticed to re-post to their followers; and your network organically grows.
TIP #5. “Commit to evolution. Your team's social selling skills will need to evolve with the Web. Prepare to invest time and effort in updating your social selling strategy, learning about new tools, and keeping skills sharp.”
ACTION ITEM: It’s important to stay ahead of the ever-evolving technology curve so that you’re not out of the loop when it comes to connecting with your customers and prospects quickly and effectively. Some good blogs to follow for the latest and greatest digital, social, and tech trends (besides the Ideas Blog, of course) are TechCrunch, Mashable, and recode.