A Practitioner's Guide to Social Selling
Complex sales involve a number of different people. You will find multiple decision makers, buyers, each having a completely different role and need than the next one. As a sales professional, it is up to you to work within the ranges of expertise and knowledge to present your solution in a compelling manner. This is where social media and social selling helps!
Know Your Buyers
Social media helps you get to your prospects unlike ever before. Sales is built upon the concepts of empathy and insights which is why a winning sales professional thoroughly researches their prospects before meeting and keeps tabs on real-time updates and buying triggers. Here are some examples how this can be done:
1) Look at your buyer’s website regularly.
2) Download and read their annual reports and check for mentions on trade websites
3) Set up Google Alerts for your buyer's business and for key decsion makers in the organization.
4) Create Twitter lists with your buyers, listen and interact with them.
Ofcourse LinkedIn is is vitally important here as well. For a great rundown on why sales is social and how LinkedIn helps sales teams, check out this webinar from Ralf Vonsosen, Head of Marketing for Sales Soultions at LinkedIn.
Identify Trigger Events
The problem with the above is that they deliver surface-level information that may not help close a deal. With social media and social selling you can take it a step further by:
1) Finding out who are key decision makers by using LinkedIn, Xing, and other social sites.
2) What’s happening in real-time with their buyers.
3) What needs and challenges their buyer faces on a daily basis.
Craig Elias, a good friend/colleague of mine and creator of Trigger Event Selling, offers downloadable worksheets to help identify personal buying triggers and to help qualify buyers based on trigger events.
Monitor Your Competition
Everyone wants to know what exactly their competitors are doing on a daily basis. In many sales situations, a differentiator or USP from your competition may be so small that any tiny advantage may mean the difference between a win or a loss. Social selling tools can help you monitor your competitors and get a leg up and an opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive. Tools like HootSuite allow you to build a custom dashboard to help you monitor all of your competitors and look for buying triggers from your customers. Where do you start?
1) Set up a Goolge Alert for your competitors (key people in the company, brands, products, etc).
2) Follow competitors, prospects, and thought-leaders on Twitter keep a pulse on what they’re saying.
3) Monitor Slideshare and Scribd for new documents or presentations from your competitors.
4) Join key applicable LinkedIn Groups and monitor how your competition are positioning themselves.
While many worry about the threat of social media, if you’re in sales, it’s time to look more closely at the opportunities. There has never been a better time to embrace to find new customers, craft pitches that meet their specific needs and bring the right people together to make the sale.
Use Internal Collaborations Tools to Get the Right Help at the Right Time
One internal collaboration tool that my sales team uses on a daily basis is HootSuite Conversations, which is an internal communication tool for sharing real-time information amongst key members in your organization. Collaboration tools like this allow you to:
1) Find expertise on unique subjects within your own company.
2) Create groups to collaborate on unique sales opportunities.
3) Publish updates to make talented coworkers in your company aware of how they can help you.
4) Collaborate and share important documents very easily.
Too many people have been worrying about the threats and dangers of social media when a carefully crafted strategy can eliminate most of the guesswork. Social selling will help you and your sales team look closer at each of your opportunities, create unique value propositions, meet the specific needs of the buyer at the right time, and bring the right people together needed to close the sale.
Recently named by InsideView and Social Selling University as 1 of the top 15 professionals using social selling in 2012 and was featured in Eloqua's Grande Guide to Social Selling. Surfing, skydiving, traveling and eating the hottest peppers from around the world make up Julio's downtime.
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