This post may be like ice water in the face of some sales pros and marketers.
But cold calling, cold emailing and other old-school prospecting methods have gone the way of dodos, typewriters and the 8-track tape.
If your SMB is serious about sales, contend experts interviewed on Amex’s OPEN Forum, then you must be committed to a new, more effective discipline called ‘social selling.’
Social Selling vs. Social Media
Don’t confuse social selling with social media. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are merely the channels through which prospecting and relationship-building are conducted. Social selling is the strategy for leveraging those platforms.
Nick VanWagner, team leader for LinkedIn’s Sales Solutions Group, describes the practice like this: “Social selling is the use of social medial tools to connect with professional contacts, get referrals and generate new business leads. It by no means replaces the need to foster meaningful relationships, but it does enhance the ability to do so.”
How to Be Successful At It
Dave Kerpen, author and CEO of Likeable Local, says that, just as in traditional offline selling, listening is the most important component of social selling. You can find prospects and start ‘listening’ to what they say by learning which social platforms they use, and joining them in a conversation.
Be sure to add value by sharing relevant links, information or insight. Like and comment on prospects’ posts. Then, at the appropriate time, take the connection offline with a quick phone call or coffee meeting. Never rush into a hard sell. Big no-no. Social selling is about respectfully engaging with a community of professionals; being successful at it is going to take some time.
“Start…by focusing on your social media profile as a marketing tool,” VanWagner suggests. “Complete your profile with a professional photo and bio, and make it stand out by incorporating videos, presentations and other interactive content that highlight the benefits of your business, not just yourself.”
Other tips mentioned of interest to marketers and sales teams include:
- Choose one social network and spend five to 10 minutes each day reviewing posts and updates.
- If you’re too busy to create original content, curate and share relevant content, such as interesting research or industry news.
- Don’t expect immediate results. With social selling, the old sales saw of ‘Know, Like, Trust’ applies more than ever.