Social selling – What does it mean in reality?

How much more “salesy” can you get? How much harder can you beat your sales force? How much more pressure can you put onto your customers? Didn’t you overstep the line long time ago?

Social selling is a new art, a new discipline, a more effective way to deal with more customers and be there when the opportunity is opening up. Clearly – there is nothing new in sales since 5,000 years. Yet once every 20 yeras we dramatically fine tune our engagement. Remember when “reference selling” – “consultative selling” – “whatever selling” – was better than what we did before?

Before:
Traditional sales people work cyclic with their sales quota and product promotions. They reach out to customers when they feel it is about time to reconnect. “Long time no see” – “Hey – I wanted to reach out to you…” – “We talked…. I wanted to follow up …” And whatever other monotone phrase you have to RESTART a connection that cooled down over time. The worst of all – the client knows you want to sell something and a barrier is building up immediately.

After:
Now – I want to walk you through a 5 step process to give you an idea what Social Selling means:

Assumption:
You are well verse with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, StumbledUpon etc. AND you recognized that most of your clients and their influencer are there too. If not – never mind.

1) Understand
Understand who are the most important influencer of your client – internally and externally, like colleagues, peers, friends, supervisors. You find them all in their social networks. Create a list of all those people (you may use SRM tools like XeeSM) and make that list the core of your social engagement. Biggest change: You no longer focus on the “social geographies” like Twitter or LinkedIn to pick up some news or inputs – instead you focus on the people relevant to you, regardless where they are.

2) Visit
Visit your most important clients at least every other day on their key online presences, may it be Facebook, LinkedIn groups, Twitter, YouTube, Stubled, Digg… Make sure you are present at all the relevant places (not relevant to YOU but relevant to THEM).

3) Listen
This is not the typical “listen to your customer” – I know you do that every day. This is about understanding their needs, fears, issues, challenges, whether or not it has something to do with what you are selling. You will learn all that by reading their posts, tweets, comments… Be helpful in any way you can. Listen to their conversations. Find a way to be helpful. You will learn more in 1 hour reviewing their posts and conversations than in six stiff and business focused face to face meetings – never sure if you even get that far.

4) Converse
Leave a note on their facebook wall, tweet with them, ask a question, introduce them to people who maybe relevant to them, let them know about great links you found that maybe helpful to them, comment on their blogs, groups… – do everything but DO NOT SELL Take an hour or two every day and you will be able to touch more than 5 times as many clients than the best sales guy in the world doing this the traditional way. Find out what resonates and you get to a relationship before you even picked up the phone – to just leave a message on their voice box. You will be greeted at your first phone call like you’ve been friends for years. You will think: “Cold call? how embarrassing were those times”.

5) Navigate
You will know if and when the client is in the mode to talk to you about something YOU need help with – like selling your product. Then you make yourself available face to face, on the phone and in any conceivable way to attract your client. At this point you know everything about them AND they know everything about you. You have a relationship! If this is all done right, you will socialize and the order will come in without you asking for it or selling the old way – remember: “The best sales people in the world never sold a thing”.

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There is no more “follow up”. There is no more “long time no see” and there can’t be anymore “just thought I reach out to you to blah blah blah…”

There is only consistent communication, knowing what your clients are up to on an ongoing base, omnipresence whatever their concerns are. You cannot allow leaving your customers alone – you will need to watch them like a guardian angel. There cannot be another case where the customer made a purchase decision without you being aware of.

That is what social selling really means. ~80% of purchase decisions are based on recommendations. You need to be part of that “recommendation Chain”. If you and your products are not recommended, you need to settle for the 20% of the deals that where based only on price or other random mechanism you have no control over.

In other words, here is my definition of social selling: “Social selling is a sales technique, leveraging social media, to get and maintain a 360 degree picture of the clients and their influencer on an ongoing basis. It allows sales people to manage and maintain 5 times as many active customers compared to traditional techniques. Social selling allows an average sales person to become a top performer simply by using tools and techniques that allows them to socialize in a way that was only accessible to the top sales guard in the past.”

Let me know if I can be of any help with this

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

  1. Selling GuideSelling Guide02-01-2010

    So nice of you sharing this with us, i’m looking to improve my salesman skills so always on the hunt for new ideas and materials.

  2. I really think that this blog can help people. Well done :)

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