5 steps to getting started with social selling
Step #1: put your best self forward
First thing’s first: your social image. This is where substance meets style, which is as important in the real world as it is in the digital space. For example, think LinkedIn. The first thing perspective clients will see is your image profile so a chance to make a good impression! Hence the importance of a photo/representation that conveys your character and personality – while avoiding the clichéd ‘stuffy business’ standard.
Then there’s the bio copy. Make no mistake this can be difficult to get right, because you’re essentially asking it to perform the role of the greeting, handshake, and elevator pitch that can’t be done in person. Our suggestion here is to write the bio with your prospects front of mind, in the first person, and provide clear contact information.
Where there’s opportunity to expand upon this profile (which you get of course with LinkedIn), fill it with insights into who you are as a person – knowing that a buyer is more interested in ‘fit’ that past accomplishments.
Step #2: find your right channel
A good place to start is to discover where your customer and prospects are hanging out, the forums they’re members of, and the networks they’re participating in. To do that means checking out their profiles and following suit. Another option is to join groups actively exploring wider industry and functional trends, to keep up to speed on the latest hot topics.
You can rate the ‘rightness’ of a channel by the relevance of conversations occurring there. For example, you want to be seeing prospects and customers voicing their frustrations, pain points, and general ‘how to’ questions. Armed with such insight, you can then begin the nurturing process by crafting suitable responses – and tailored marketing assets.
A top tip here is to find mutual connections with your top targets, and have them introduce your content and opinion. Another is to put in place social listening alerts (for example, Google Alerts) that notify you to any ‘events’ (a new hire, a problem raised etc.) – and give you the opportunity to enter the conversation in a timely manner.
Step #3: demonstrate your credibility
You may consider yourself a heavyweight titan of industry (you may not of course!) but to most of your intended audience you’re starting out a nobody. Worse still, if the word ‘sales’ is in your job title, you could even be regarded with suspicion. The good news however is that with social you’re in the perfect place to grow your personal brand – via every tweet, LinkedIn comment, or Facebook post.
Whatever you do, think of it as an opportunity to build a reputation for providing useful insights and practical advice: all done in the name of establishing trust and distancing yourself from an overt sales narrative.
As for specific actions, writing blogs/articles is a great way to show your thought-leadership credentials (see Step #4). Another proven tactic is to ask for recommendations or endorse others, hoping they’ll endorse you back. Lastly, a good tip is to encourage your network to share and comment on any content you’ve posted – thereby helping base the conversation around you.
Step #4: get blogging
This is an activity divided into two parts. The first demands you enter the ‘blogospheres’ of your buyers, to discover what they’re reading and sharing. These can be found with an RSS reader (news aggregator), or by searching for relevant groups via keywords relating to industry, service, or product. Once found, subscribe to them with gusto, and get busy sharing ‘items of value’.
Then there’s the creation of your own content. For some, this is achieved by becoming an effective content curator – which can be good enough. But long-term success will require you take to the keyboard, and it’s here that platforms such as Medium (a blogging site affiliated with Twitter) make it easier than ever to get involved.
Top tips include: choose an emotive topic known to split opinion; pen a catchy/intriguing title; include your opinion, and highlight relevant industry experience to back it all up; welcome the opinions of others (and be open to conversion); and above all, don't make it a sales pitch.
Step #5: get social
Referrals, referrals, referrals! Achieved by contacting mutual connections of target individuals and requesting an introduction. Or…you can make the introduction yourself, and highlight common contacts in the approach communication. Do that, and you’re already on the way to warming up even the coldest of leads.
Why do it? Well, it’s about ‘significance by association’. It’s about creating the assumption that you wouldn’t have a relationship with the mutual contact unless you’ve already added value to their world. And it’s about letting a prospect know you’ve earned the right to engage them through a hard-earned reputation.
Tips here focus on timeliness – it’s obviously essential to follow-up any referral within a 24-hour window. Another is to be open with the person you’re asking for a referral from. Tell them you want to better understand key industry/operational problems, and to use this insight to better craft future marketing activity.
How to become a social selling legend
We all know how hard it is to stand out. To be heard through the deafening noise of rivals, commentators, ‘thought leaders’, and anybody else who feels the urge to share. And of course many do, meaning emails and postbags remain fit to burst – with the poor prospect/customer also bombarded across every conceivable digital channel.
Find out how to cut through that noise and become a social selling legend. Download now