The Power of Social Media as a Sales Tool
One undeniable truth about sales is that "people buy from people, not companies." Selling is all about building and maintaining relationships of trust with your clients. Successful sales reps know that the more you know about your prospects and customers, and the closer your relationship with those people, the easier it is to answer questions and meet their needs.
Another undeniable truth is that social media can expand the reach and power of any organization. There's a reason that social media marketing certifications are starting to pop up like mushrooms. Large companies like IBM and HP that offer dozens of IT sales specialist certifications are aware of the impact that social media can have.
Social media makes it easier than ever to study and learn about a prospect's concerns, challenges, likes and dislikes, and business opportunities. In depth and useful knowledge of prospects, their companies and market trends is just a few clicks away.
These ideas were recently reinforced when I read 5 Steps to Social Selling — a free e-book by Jack Kosakowski. "Social selling" refers to the online research and interaction that takes place during the sales process.
5 Steps to Social Selling is actually more of a PowerPoint than an e-book, and it's filled with loads of useful information and tips on how to use social selling to identify, connect with and build strong relationships with prospects. The power of social selling is backed up by research done by LinkedIn that shows sales reps who score highly on its "Social Selling Index" (which tracks social activity):
? Find 45 percent more sales opportunities
? Are 80 percent more productive
? Are 51 percent more likely to hit their quotas
There is so much useful information packed into Kosakowski's little book that I can't cover it all. The meat of it is his 5 Steps to Building Relationships with Social Media:
? Connect — We have dozens of opportunities daily to connect with others, be it in the gym, at work or in a checkout line. Connecting in an honest and authentic manner enables you to build a network that can lead to rewarding relationships for both parties.
? Prospect — Continuously prospect your connections and focus on the most promising ones.
? Listen — Monitor your social feeds on a regular basis. Listen and soak in what your connections are talking about.
? Engage — Build credibility by commentating and adding value to your prospect's social media posts with honest and engaging feedback.
? Add Value — Once you know what is important to your connections, start sharing content helpful to them.
In addition to the "5-Steps," the e-book also gives some powerful tips on prospecting, incidental similarities, the best ways to utilize various social networks, and using tech to manage your social selling efforts.
Social selling is expected to become even more important as millennials rise to the top of their industries. Today 62 percent of them report that they are more likely to be a loyal customer to a brand that engages them on social networks.
In 1950, Earl Nightingale, America's "Dean of Personal Development," said that the rule-of-thumb to be successful in your career was to spend one hour a day reading and learning about your industry. By doing so, you would quickly move ahead of the competition in knowledge, understanding and the ability to offer effective solutions.
Sixty-six years later, social selling via social media is an incredibly powerful thing. By learning and putting it into practice for one hour a day, sales and marketing people will increase their knowledge and understanding of their prospects and Industry, add real value to their clients, and in the process be more successful.