For a few years now, lots of folks have been talking about making use of social media to increase their sales figures. Back then, social selling was more of a buzzword than a tried and true technique. It sounded like a great idea, but very few people had it figured out. Fast forward a couple of years however, and the numbers tell a different story.
Just last year, as businesses began to see results from their early tests, LinkedIn reported a 73 percent increase in social selling adoption. Far from being just a newfangled fad, the era of the social sale had begun. Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your social strategy or are just starting out in this new arena, we’d like to give you a hand. Here are five social selling tips from the folks here on the Microsoft Dynamics team:
1. Start off on the right foot. It’s easy to forget, but the old-fashioned proper introduction still goes a long way toward establishing customer relationships, and this includes reaching out on social media to someone you don’t yet know. If you’re about to contact new prospects, take the time to understand their company’s business needs, as well as their personal goals. Use the tools at your disposal to discover where they are in their buying process, as well as what contacts you might have in common.
Once you’ve collected all that information, you’ll be able to forge strong, authentic connections that go a lot further than the cold, hard sales pitches of yesteryear. Using LinkedIn introductions or tagging a common connection on Twitter can also help you connect quickly and easily. And it’s a great idea to keep social contact information up to date and look for changes before each of your interactions with a prospect. Your future clients will take notice, and they’ll remember you for your professionalism.
2. Share what you’ve got in common. Once you have a good idea of who your prospects are, if you won’t be the person reaching out, match them up with a like-minded member of your sales team. Whether it’s a love for the Seattle Seahawks or golden retrievers, the interests you and your customers share can help to establish the person-to-person connections that are the backbone of strong relationships.
Once you’ve made a strong connection, make sure the rest of the team knows about it. With unified service desk technology, everyone on your team will be automatically updated with customers’ new information, as well as where they are in the buying process.
3. Focus on the “social” in social selling. People look for answers on social media long before they’re ready to make a purchase. If you want to win them over, don’t focus on making the sale right away. Instead, add value to the conversation by listening to their concerns and answering their questions.
Remember that not all of these questions are going to be in your email inbox. Many customers now prefer to search for answers on social media, so be sure to make use of tools like Microsoft Social Engagement, which allows you to detect both overall sentiment and what questions individual customers are asking, even when they’re not approaching you directly.
When you do bring sales into the conversation, do it in a way that also adds value. Nobody likes that guy at the cocktail party who only talks about the last big fish he caught. Offer to connect your customers with people you know, if they can be of value. Share a link to a book or blog post you’re read that could help. Maybe mention sales or specials that you’ve got coming up, or suggest that customers check out a product related to those they’ve already purchased.
4. Be your company’s concierge. While conversation is great, you’re not just online to chat and check out the latest cat videos. Have fun, but remember that you’re the customer’s guide to the next step on the path to the sale or upsell. Strike the right balance and what feels a bit like work to you will be a simple, intuitive process for your customers.
5. Social doesn’t end after the sale. By embracing social selling, you’re opening the lines of communication between your team and your customer community. If you leave a conversation after getting what you want from it, you run the risk of souring good relationships. Maintain your new connections and you could well be on your way to earning some customer advocates—people who will likely recommend you to their own communities. You know, the type of word-of-mouth social selling that’s gone on since day one.
Need a gauge for how well you and your team are doing at social sales? Take a moment to measure your social sales IQ.