Like we breathe, social media and digital technologies surround us, invisible but essential.
Social media is the latest stage in the evolution of the ubiquitous home computer: AOL Instant Message became MySpace, which became Facebook, which became Twitter, which has become the dozens and dozens of social media outlets, from the professional platform of LinkedIn to the highly intimate Snapchat application. It seems that, now, there's a specialized social media platform to express all ranges and shades of the human experience.
With so many options, people are moving more of their lives to the digital world. People spend an hour and 40 minutes each day browsing and scrolling through the stream of posts, updates, and shares on all of these platforms, and that number is only set to continue to increase.
Social media is a place where buyers engage in news, sports, politics, and lifestyle, and it is a place where sales professionals can engage potential buyers and market their product to them.
This is the basics of social selling, one of the key components to digital transformation, a transformation that all savvy CEOs and companies should be engaging in today.
Importance of Social Selling
Sales professionals that use social selling tactics are 72 percent more likely to reach their monthly quotas, and this is at no real extra effort for the sales professional.
It is equally as valuable to use social selling tactics effectively, which can be broken into two steps: build a bridge between the sales person and potential buyer and then build a bridge between the potential buyer and the salesforce. These two steps are critical to effectively implement social selling practices in the present sales landscape.
1. Align Sales Enablement Tools with the Prospect
Thanks to the a-la-carte style of communication that social media provides, potential buyers are cherry-picking their digital worlds. They integrate social media accounts and posts that fit their lifestyles, and if they wish to avoid or remove accounts/posts that they don't want to see, they have free range to do that too. The potential buyer is the architect of their digital world.
Sales teams need to practice effective techniques to make the world of the product relevant to the potential buyer's life, and this is done in several ways.
To begin, a sales rep must become the authority on the topic/situation they're selling. A "potential buyer" becomes a "buyer" much faster if they trust the authority of the person they're engaging with, which is why it is so important to maintain a consistent and diligent presence on social media.
It is key that a sales rep engaging with a prospect on social media keep the relationship professional but relaxed. The platform specific to the individual buyer can act as their escape from the grind of the daily pressures. They do not want to be bombarded with authoritarian and rock-hard language while on this escape.
The salesperson's attitude should reflect and blend into the values of the specific social media platform: relaxed, enthusiastic, and geared toward sharing and connecting.
The best restaurants market themselves as an experience, not as food, and in the same way, a sales person should market themselves as a fellow traveller and friend on the platform, not as a buttoned-up sales person.
2. Align the Potential Buyer with the Service or Product
Every potential buyer has a multitude of problems in their life that they're looking to solve. The first place the potential buyer is going to go for answers is social media.
Social media platforms provide instant answers, but unlike a sterile Google search, these answers are coming from trusted colleagues and friends.
It's nothing new really, as this style of selling has been going on for decades, just in different forms than social media platforms. The makeup and fragrance industries have the largest examples, with sales people organizing neighbourhood gatherings where a buyer invites their friends over to sample the product as the buyer discusses how the product has brought better harmony to their own life.
This buyer-turned-salesperson is the equivalent to a sales person using social selling, and all the friends are the potential buyers.
After making a connection and forming a relationship with the prospect, the sales person must bridge the potential buyer's life to the product by making clear its relevance in the potential buyer's life.
The digital world is becoming a series of ecosystems: Amazon has created an ecosystem where buyers engage in the services of Amazon's online shopping, its media-consumption platforms like Amazon Prime and Amazon Music, and now its brick-and-mortar stores like Amazon Books and Whole Foods. What started as one service has become an ecosystem of services, a whole way of life that a person can literally buy into. Amazon's buyers are those who look at Whole Foods and say "that aligns with my views," those who look at Amazon's video library and say "that aligns with my views," and those who look at the instant delivery of services and say "that aligns with my views."
How Does Your Product Fit into Your Buyer’s Life?
The savvy salesperson shows the potential buyer how the product fits into their life by articulating the values and legitimacy of that product.
Once the potential buyer has become a buyer, whatever they've purchased becomes part of their digital ecosystem in the same way that their BitMoji avatar and Facebook posts are. Now they're engaging with other potential customers about the product, and soon word spreads like wildfire through that initial buyer's digital world.
All the sales professional must do to use social selling effectively is to connect with the customer and market the product as yet another bumper sticker slapped on the car cruising life's highway.