I’ve dedicated the last 20 years of my professional life to sales. Through the years (man, time flies when you’re having fun), I’ve navigated the ever-changing, dynamic world of sales, spending an incredible amount of time into understanding how I can remain sharp to be the best version of my sales self.
All in all, dedicating myself to a life in sales has provided tremendous rewards and insight. Reflecting on my career, there are several critical pieces of advice that truly changed my sales game. I’m eternally grateful to those that have helped me learn and grow and I’m excited to share some of the best pieces of social sales advice I’ve received thus far. Hopefully, these lessons will help you as much as they’ve helped me.
For those who need a refresher, social-selling is when a salesperson leverages social media to enhance their interactions with prospects and customers. The minute I embraced this philosophy and integrated it into my sales methodology, the results blew my mind.
Although social selling is known as a way to accelerate results, it’s still new enough that the majority of companies have yet to incorporate it into their selling arsenals. But this shouldn’t be the case in my opinion.
As with almost anything “new,” the worst part about it is apprehension. The thought of trying a new technique can be so intimidating or overwhelming due to lack of understanding businesses avoid it altogether. Sadly, companies that put their head in the sand and avoid the power of social-selling will likely end up settling for less than their bottom line deserves.
Think about it, according to my friends at Sales for Life, 74.9% of companies that leverage social selling report an increase in sales. If you’re ready to ramp up your sales results, keep reading…
1) Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Is the Definition of Insanity
Mr. Einstein is 100% right and a dear colleague reminded me of this philosophy several years ago. One of the keys to my success has been keeping an open mind to emerging trends that make a difference and to incorporate them into my daily sales life versus relying on the same methodology.
Without a doubt, social media has truly changed my business life and created a profound way to interact with my prospects and customers like never before. For example, instead of adding people to a lead pool coupled with a random follow up strategy hoping for something to “stick,” social relies on continuity of communication from the original salesperson.
With social-selling, you have a powerful way of engaging with your prospects. Had I not embraced this and kept on with the same of way doing things, I shudder to think about what my results would look like today.
Leveraging social insights in the cold call process has proven to be much more effective (for me personally, I’ve seen a 68% increase in engagement with prospects). Incorporating social selling into your daily sales “tool-kit” gives you the ability to connect with your targets in a thoughtful manner.
Personalization is everything. Think about, if you take the time to understand what’s happening in their world before making contact while infusing these insights into your approach, the results are dramatically different. Long gone are the days of random email blasts, icky baseless cold calls or shallow follow-ups.
To find the most ROI from this method, though, one thing needs to be clear: to master social-selling, you first need to throw out your preconceived notions about what social media is and how to sell on it. Now, for me, this was a bit difficult… After all, I was around for the creation of Six Degrees.
Albeit troubling at first, I took this advice, and I’m so happy I did. Abandoning what I thought I knew about social media allowed me to see social-selling in a new light—enabling me to reap the greatest rewards.
Selling on social media isn’t what you might think. Salespeople are often well-versed in lead generation and nurturing techniques that are fairly low-maintenance, but with social-selling, this approach doesn’t work so well.
Successful social-selling is a win-win technique. Unlike traditional forms of advertising where companies dominate the narrative and have to use a different feedback method—like a focus group—to improve their message, social media allows them to engage in a two-way conversation with consumers.
Credit: Agora Pulse
This is helpful for prospects, who feel like they have a voice and dialogue with a company, and it’s helpful for brands, as it allows them to connect with their audience and respond directly to their wants and needs.
2) Make the Most of the Two-Way Conversation
Once you’re very clear on the fact that social-selling must include a two-way conversation, I advise you to consider how you/your brand will engage in this new type of engagement and communication.
One of the best pieces of wisdom I’ve received on this topic is to ensure social engagement and content is balanced and authentic. More specifically, I was told to make only some of my content/comments self-serving while the majority should focus on adding value.
This advice really hit home as building relationships has always been the foundation from which I operate, social selling just took it to a whole other level. I needed to think about the “how” differently.
After embracing the “more them, less me approach,” the results were astonishing. I found it was a heck of a lot easier to break down barriers to have productive conversations and determine if I could help solve the problems of my prospects. All while building strong foundations for lasting relationships.
Before, it would’ve taken me many extra steps to get to this point, if at all.
3) A Value Proposition Is Still Relevant
I know that I don’t need wax on about the importance of a good value proposition. Simply put, if you don’t have a clear explanation of how your product and/or service can help someone and why they should buy it from you, you’ll be hard-pressed to move off of the starting block. According to Anders Pink, attention is the new currency and I couldn’t agree more.
The same is true when it comes to social-selling. Within eight seconds of viewing your profile, a prospect should have a clear understanding of what you’re offering and its value.
Now, if you’ve been crafting value propositions for years, you might think that this will be a piece of cake. That’s what I thought, too, until Twitter’s 140-character limit challenged me like never before.
Needless to say, conveying an entire value proposition in so few characters is tricky at first, but it’s an essential part of social-selling that anyone can master with time and practice.
Credit: Owlet Hoot
Once you’ve developed a value proposition that matches a social platform’s requirements while setting you apart from all of the rest, you have one more task: ensure the people that visit your pages stick around.
A clear statement of your value is important, but if it doesn’t intrigue someone to take action or engage with more of your content, then it’s time for an overhaul.
So, how do you improve your overall social presence as a salesperson without taking up too much time in your day?
Start out small to dedicate 15-30 minutes of your day and adjust from there. Technology is your friend—automate wherever possible. Although there are a few paid tools that can help with this process, you can also optimize with free options.
There are a few free tools that I like using, but here’s one I find compelling: analyze your social-selling on LinkedIn. This hyperlink will take you to your “Social Selling Dashboard,” which helps you gain a better understanding of how your profile is currently performing within the context of social-selling. In case you’re wondering, I’m currently at an 86 and always looking for ways to improve.
Tying It All Together
Social-selling isn’t going anywhere and for good reason; it works really well. The sage words of wisdom above that I’m beyond grateful to have received can absolutely enhance your sales results.
By no means am I saying scrap everything and only focus on social, but keep an open mind to try something new. These pieces of advice are meant to incorporate to fill the gaps in your sales process, not eradicate it.
If you end up taking any of my advice, I’d love to hear how it works out for you; feel free to contact me on LinkedIn to share your thoughts.