In today’s digital age, customers and prospects have to sift through more information than ever. From mailings and phone calls to emails and social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, all the available avenue to initiate contact make it more difficult for businesses to distinguish themselves from the surrounding noise.
In nearly every industry, the base of a strong customer or prospect interaction exists within the relationship. But how can businesses create a lasting relationship when the individuals they are trying to connect with are under constant bombardment from other outside information and requests?
One answer is a technique called social selling. Between Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, potential new clients and customers alike are everywhere online – and so should your business. Prospects today don’t want to be approached through a traditional “cold call.” They want businesses they deal with to possess an understanding of what they need and who they are. Fortunately, social media platforms can help with this.
So how does a small business improve on social selling, and how do you implement a social selling strategy? Here are a few easy tips to help your business jumpstart its social selling program.
Know Your Prospects
A business’ job when it comes to social selling is to have an understanding of the individuals you’re targeting in as many ways as possible. Perhaps you grew up in the same city or went to the same college. These small bits of information make initial engagement stronger and can act as the foundation for a lasting relationship.
Social media platforms can serve an integral role when investing the background of a potential new client, but it’s important to keep the strengths and weakness of each platform in mind. While LinkedIn works wonderfully for finding common connections and school and work history data, the platform often suffers in failing to have the most up-to-date information. However, Twitter is typically used throughout the day for posting information as up-to-date and varied as what the user had for lunch to future career moves.
With social selling, it’s important to find the delicate balance between having too much or too little information about clients and customers. Researching where a potential client went to school is fine, but knowing whom he or she took to prom is probably not. No one wants to feel like they’re being stalked, especially by a stranger. Instead, find logical points to bond over and effortless ways to naturally bring them up in conversation. Noticing you both went to same college may serve as an easier introduction than the fact you both like to sing Madonna at karaoke.
Let Them Know You
When implementing a social selling strategy, it’s important that customers know that you understand where they are coming from, and that you want them to know you better, as well. It’s easy to forget that both sides of a sales exchange are regular people when working in a transaction only industry.
When utilizing social selling as a business, you need an active online presence, one where you interact with difference groups thoughtfully so you can gain a better understanding of the different digital communities. Social profiles provide clients and prospects a way to become more familiar with you from afar, which helps to build trust and show them who you are as an individual, outside of business interactions. Most importantly, it makes the person on the other end of the email exchange or phone more willing to engage with you as an individual rather than as the face of your business.
Analyze and Organize
Gathering tiny tidbits about clients won’t do much good without a system in place to analyze and organize the data. Like every type of data, insights derived from social media can only impact your business when you have a level of interpretation and understanding behind them.
Social media tools like TweetDeck and Facebook analytics can help you segment social streams to keep new, up-to-the-second information organized, while also creating a timeline to track data. Once you have the data sorted, it’s time to analyze. Do you have enough of a foundation to generate a warm outreach, or is it better to wait until you’ve gained more information about an individual and begin to feel like you can establish a more meaningful rapport? Understanding whether you need to gather more data is vitally important, since an unprepared initial contact might ruin what could have been a potentially advantageous relationship with just a little more planning.