A local ice cream shop owner told me a story about a conversation she had in line at the grocery store. She was commiserating with a college student about how coffee shops are lousy for studying, due to the crazy noise. The ice cream owner asked if the student knew of a corner at the Universities outdoor park that still picked up Wifi.
The student wasn’t sure, but the owner thanked her emphatically. They kept chatting and the student asked about the shop owners’ job. The student was interested, and ended up dropping by the ice cream store the next morning. What struck me most about this story was the elevator pitch happened naturally in their conversation.
With Social Selling, these same opportunities arise every single day. Oddly enough though, sales reps stammer, stutter and bungle their way into awkward social conversations online… then wonder why their results are so poor.
The ice cream owner just serendipitously happened to be in a physical location where prospects gather. But online, these places are much easier to find, leverage and scale.
In February, Nimble CEO and founder Jon Ferrara shared several steps with Software Advice, a research consultancy, about how others can improve sales with Social Selling . This is primarily done through building a strategic online presence. Here is Jon’s 5 E’s of Social Selling:
If you’ve ever read The Challenger Sale – your buyer is looking for a partner that provides true insight (insight they didn’t know). Don't sell; describe and explain in a broader sense how you have addressed challenges to their problems. Use ebooks, tip sheets, articles and blogs as your voice. Participate in forums and discussions relevant to your business. This will establish your brand as a helpful expert remembered during those “trigger times” that immediately precede a buying decision.
Enchantment means sharing in an authentic, relevant and transparent way. Create guiding principles for your online voice just as you might speak to a friend or business colleague. Creating an online presence is a big part of brand identity, so build one that will attract the audience you want. Is your voice “business friendly?” or Humorous? Do you encourage spirited debate, or do you want to avoid controversy and stick to a more academic tone?
Like. Comment. Chat. Get involved. You've shared your passions; encourage others to do the same. Sales reps often think of this process as a 1-way street (not sharing, but only soliciting). In 2013 and beyond, that’s not going to work anymore.
Identify those individuals and companies whose needs mesh with your strengths. Formalize connections and continue to talk, listen and watch. LinkedIn groups are one great way to share experiences, ask questions, get to know people, and develop ideas. Quora is another way to participate in thoughtful give-and-take on business issues. Ask a question on Quora and you could get straightforward advice from experts, tips and links.
Empowerment means giving people the tools they need to be successful. When you have access to the best ways to engage and educate your prospects, clients, and peers, you can become a trusted advisor and increase selling opportunities.
The Social Selling Impact
Jon believes that using these steps in your daily tasks with help your prospects gather a better appreciation for your value. How does your business leverage social in the sales cycle? Chime in the conversation with a comment here.
The Bottom Line
If you don’t want to be left behind the 8 ball – you really need to start to take action. The following blog posts on utilizing Social Selling strategies using LinkedIn can help you start. If you are really looking for some hidden gems on how you can attract a very specific prospect, I recommend you check out 42 LinkedIn Tips
Find the topic of Social Selling interesting? Click Here to book a time in my calendar to explore further!