Social selling is defined by LinkedIn as:
“leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately, achieve your sales goals.”
Now, for many salespeople this seems intuitive, “How else are you going to make sales?” You need a way to meet potential buyers, and cold-calling is a waste of time and money. Therefore, your network is the best way to make sales.
With the way that social media has gained popularity over the past decade, communicating with your network has never been easier. Like Dale Carnegie said in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Social selling follows that theory and applies it to brands. You can get more customers by taking interest in them, building relationships and developing trust than by using interruptive marketing techniques to ingrain your brand name in their head.
Today, we will discuss several misconceptions about social selling. First, we will examine the misconception that social selling only takes place on social networks. Email, websites, and other forums can be used for social selling as well. Then we will discuss how social selling involves building personal relationships with the prospect. Finally, we will discuss the risks associated with selling on social networks.
1. Social selling does not only take place on social networks
While social selling involves leveraging your social network, it is not exclusively done on social media. Social selling is about building connections with your network, and these connections can be built in many ways. Many interactions will take place on social media, but email, websites, and forums are also great places to engage with your network.
- Email has its challenges because you first must build a contact list. This list can include clients, but in order to grow your network, you will need people to sign up for your newsletter:
- You can get people to sign up for your newsletter by putting signup forms in various locations online.
- To motivate people to sign up, outline the value proposition for your newsletter.
- Offer subscriber-only incentives for signing up.
- Once you have a contact list, email is one of the best methods of engagement for a few reasons:
- Email has the highest ROI of all digital channels.
- Emails are very personalized.
- Results from email marketing are easily measurable.
- Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
- Publishing content to your website will increase your search rankings. Engaging, informative content draws people to your website (and keeps them engaged). Without content, your website will be nearly undiscoverable for those without the URL.
- You can engage with your clients on your website or blog. Simply offering a comments section on your blog and asking people to comment their opinions is an effective way to build relationships and engagement.
- New ways of engagement, such as chat (or chatbots) can entice people to visit and spend more time on your website.
- An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.
- There are many forums online, the largest of which is reddit.com
- Reddit has many subject-specific forums, from NBA basketball to macrame.
- Brands can even start a forum about themselves, inviting people to engage in a conversation with you
- Other forums are focused on a specific subject, you will need to search for an active forum that meets your niche.
Regardless of where you choose to engage, the end goal is to start a conversation and build connections. Each channel you choose to use has their own strengths and weaknesses, so consider your end goals when creating an engagement strategy.
2. Social aspects of selling and customer engagement are about personal connections
To be successful at social selling, you will need to engage your customers in order to build a personal connection. People are far more likely to do business with an entity that they trust. This trust is best built through personifying your brand and putting a human face on your business.
Developing trust with consumers will lead to increased customer loyalty, which in turn will lead to improved customer engagement. Engagement, loyalty, and trust will lead to a more profitable audience, leading to more sales. We see companies who have improved engagement increase cross-sell revenue by 22% and drive up-sell revenue from 13% to 51%.
Social selling involves putting the customer first. Putting the customer first means meeting their needs, listening to their concerns, building a relationship with them and doing what you can to simplify their life. If you can achieve those goals, you will create a personal connection. You no longer will just be “the financial advisor” to your customers. You will be known on a first-name basis. Become part of their network and they will grow to trust you.
3. Social networks may be a lower value place for engagement, viewed as risky or an unsafe place for commerce
Engagement from social media can sometimes be seen as having less value than engagement from other channels. Some brands view social media as risky or an unsafe place for commerce because they cannot control the conversation.
On social media, you have to “go with the flow”. Anyone can say anything, at any time and it’s up to the brand to respond how they see fit. This can lead to some awkward and uncomfortable situations that require a response. The risk of public negative feedback can scare some brands away from using social media.
Some brands also view the engagement from social media to be “cheap”. These brands believe the engagement from social media does not lead to sales. 56% of businesses said they are unable to tie social media to business outcomes for one reason or another. Recently, various platforms such as Facebook have come under attack for having misleading analytics. The recent controversies have made the platforms even more questionable for marketers. At the end of the day, social media still is an excellent way to reach younger demographics, share content and engage with your audience.
While some brands feel social media is of low-value, it cannot be ignored that several brands have done an excellent job leveraging social media for their businesses. Dove, Netflix, and Coca-Cola are just three examples of brands who have successfully leveraged social media to start a conversation. There is absolutely nothing stopping a brand in finance from doing the same and becoming a social media superstar.
Implications: Firms need to consider broader context for social engagement strategies
You will need to consider a very wide-reaching strategy to get the most out of social selling.
Social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, are an excellent way to grow your network and share content. Email is a great method to re-engage with previous customers, keep prospective clients updated on new information, and maintain brand awareness in the minds of your readers. Forums, such as Reddit, can be used to find like-minded individuals and build connections with them, drawing them into your network.
If you don’t consider the main use case of whatever medium you are using and the context in which you attempt to engage, your social engagement strategy may seem erratic. Your goal is to build a relationship and gain trust. In order to do that, every interaction must feel natural and unforced.
So, what are your favorite strategies for social selling? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @VeridayHQ.