In part 1 of ‘What is social selling & why should you care?’ I wrote about how buying has changed and how you now need to sell in a different manner if you’re going to build a strong sales pipeline and exceed your revenue targets. In this post I’m going to expand upon this and show you how you can get more and better leads.
As you now know much of the buying process occurs before your buyer reaches out to a salesperson. However, what you may not be aware of is that it’s not happening behind closed doors. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Buyers are in your sight-line and good leads are there for you – in full view.
Yes, your buyers are on social media. And, there they’re talking about their business needs, asking questions about issues in their industry, revealing intelligence about their own companies and reaching out to their peers for advice.
So, the question begs. If they’re doing all of this, why aren’t you there too? Why aren’t you socially surrounding them and recognising their buying signals so you can be of help?
Social selling buying signals?
When it comes to social selling what are the buying signals and how can you recognize them? Well, buying signals are expressions of purchase intent or indications that a company is putting itself in a position to buy. They’re easy to recognise as buyers generate these signals in real-time on Twitter, LinkedIn Groups and other social networks including blogs and forums. As a result, it’s vital you take a holistic approach to social selling. You need to be actively listening and not limiting yourself to one social network. Using LinkedIn is not enough.
Let’s look at some early stage buying signals to illustrate the point.
Meet Jessica. You met her in part 1 and if you remember she’s a buyer. Right now, Jessica has a business problem that she needs to solve. She’s frustrated as she’s purchased a solution (from one of your competitors) and it’s not working. Time is not on her side as she’s got management riding her back. She’s also pretty stressed out. What does she do? Well, first of all she goes online hoping to find an answer. She’s posting on LinkedIn Groups and asking about it on Twitter. She’s also searching for blogs or guides via Google.
Meet Sarah. Sarah works in marketing. Sarah has just announced that her company is expanding geographically and has appointed new senior management hire. This follows a recent addition to the board of directors. Both hires potentially indicate a new strategic direction.
Let’s now compare these to later buying signals.
Jessica has searched online for a solution to her business problem. She finds a supplier that may be able to help and contacts them via email. All she wants is a price to fix the problem, as she’s done her research prior. The conversation is pretty limited at this stage as the sales person can add little value. In fact, they may well be being competing on price alone.
As you can see, it would have been far better if you’d spoken to Jessica earlier on as you may have been able to influence the sale much more by adding value.
I say “may” because it really depends on several factors:
- How credible you are
- How knowledgeable you are
However, before I dive into this I want to let you know where you need to go in order to find your buying signals.
Where can you find buying signals?
It goes without saying that you’ll find buying signals on social media wherever your buyers are hanging out. However, what’s worth mentioning (and often forgotten) is that your competitors are often one of the best lead sources. By tracking your competitors you’ll access much information.
So monitor your competitors:
- Corporate social media handles
- Customer support or customer service handles
- Sales & marketing executives
- Account managers
Get noticed as an industry expert
Today’s sophisticated buyers want to speak to someone who can provide value in a consultative role. They’re fed up of one-dimensional sellers who can only read them a brochure or take an order. It’s understandable.
So if you want call-backs from buyers while they’re still developing awareness, you have to be knowledgeable, recognized, and trustworthy. Professional and performing sales people need to be experts in their field. It’s no longer good enough to pass your buyers on to consultants who’ll do this for you and then pass them back to you to close the sale. Selling in this way is ending.
Your sales activity starts with the following 3-stage process:
1. Positioning yourself by creating an online profile (persona) as a trusted advisor.
This means that you must maintain a presence on multiple social networks. You’ve got to create buyer-centric social media profiles that are focused on what you can do for them. Remember you are there to help and serve them. You are not there to sell. You’ve also got to emulate your buyers in an authentic way. Your buyer needs to see themselves in you. They need to feel that you understand them. And finally, you must be available in real-time to handle questions from your buyers.
2. Monitoring and mining social media to gain knowledge.
This means that from now on you’ve got to listen to what’s being said on social media and web forums so that you really understand your buyers’ changing needs. You have to follow subject matter experts and influencers on social media (including blogs) to keep track of industry trends and you’re going to have to drill down into your buyers’ profiles so you may better understand them.
3. Sharing valuable content to establish credibility.
This means that you must leverage curated and created content to post to social networks and communities. You’ve also got to stay on-brand with consistent messaging and share industry specific news and insights.
So that’s it for Part 2. In the next part I’ll be looking at how you can shorten your sales cycle.
Now I want to hear your view on social selling…
Tell me in the comments below or in a private email:
- How are you dealing with social media or social selling?
- What aspect of social media or social selling do you find the most challenging?
Please share your stories and experience here, and if you’ve got a question, just pop it down here. If you want to contact me for a strategy call click here.
Thanks for being a sport and participating!
Finally, if you know someone who’d LOVE the insight from this social selling post, please send them a link. You’ll find solo entrepreneurs, consultants and yes, even sales and marketing managers who manage people who’ll be interested to hear about this.
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