Sales is changing because buyer behavior is changing. Research suggests 75% of leading B2B buyers use social media in their decision-making process.
If you’re not using social media to help boost your sales, you’re missing out. But it’s a tricky area to get right and getting it wrong can have serious implications for your brand.
There are many aspects of traditional sales that transfer to social selling, although not always in the most obvious way. And there are many aspects that don’t.
So how do you do it well? What traditional methods still work? We asked some experts to help us put together a white paper on social selling: you can download that at the bottom of this post.
But if you want a quick summary, here are our five golden rules.
They won’t teach you everything you need to know about social selling. But they’re a solid foundation to build from. Get these right and the rest will follow.
Five golden rules for social media success
1 Focus on social over sales
Remember, these are social platforms. They are increasingly tailored to help you sell but that’s not their primary purpose.
It helps to think of your company as a person that’s interacting with other users. Post content that feels in keeping with your “personality”. Talk about it naturally. Join conversations. Don’t just promote your product.
If you see something that’s relevant to your industry trending, get involved. That can be something as simple as a comment or a “like” as well as new content. The point is to treat it like a conversation, not a notice board.
2 Give value
We can’t stress this enough. All of our experts agreed that providing value is essential to successful social selling. Not only do buyers want value, they expect it. And we mean real value.
Does someone in your team have expertise in a new, exciting area of your industry? Ask them to blog about it. Is there someone with a varied, extensive career, who could share their best practise? Interview them and share it. Have you recently read an industry-relevant book that you thought was excellent? Review it.
Have a clear idea of what you want to offer and stick to it – don’t use the idea and pivot to a pitch about your product/s.
Offering valuable content connects your customers to you in a broader way. If they feel they are getting value from you outside of your products, they connect with you more strongly.
3 Be true to your personality
Branding is essential for companies, especially when social selling.
Branding is about establishing trust and solidifying your position in the minds of your customers/users by always showing a distinct and consistent brand personality.
Don’t abandon your brand values just because you’re talking to a customer on Twitter instead of an investor in a boardroom. Everyone you communicate with should be treated with the same level of respect and they should all feel like they are communicating with the same person (or company).
Being true to your brand values doesn’t stop you from tweaking your tone to make sure you stay appropriate for the platform you’re using. It just means your customers always feel they’re communicating with you.
4 Put on your best face
Just like tone, your presentation matters. This is quite likely the first impression your potential customers will have of you, so you need to look sharp.
Remember, the first thing people are likely to do once they find out about you is Google your name. You need to make sure that everything they see is positive – and consistent.
It’s no good having a swish, beautifully designed website if you expect all your traffic to come through messy, mistake-strewn marketing channels. You have to create a coherent user experience across your marketing channels.
Of course, you can tailor your descriptions of yourself on each channel so that you are presenting the best possible version of yourself for each platform. However, you need to make sure a viewer could look at both channels and recognise you as the same company without difficult.
Once you’ve sorted those all things, check for typos. Make sure everything you’ve written is grammatically correct too. These might seem like small, insignificant details but it’s like tiny cracks in a glass. They weaken the whole thing.
5 Know when to close
Of course, you are still selling. Knowing when to close still matters. But how you apply this rule really depends on whether you’re focusing on inbound or outbound marketing.
If your aim with using social media is inbound marketing, then your content will do most of the closing for you. There are only a few simple rules. Make the product easy to access but don’t push it too much. Don’t overly advertise your products in your content. Use pop-ups discreetly and make sure there are always links to other content, not just sales.
If your aim with using social media is outbound marketing, then you need to approach the close as you would with a call or a meeting. Judge the mood of your audience: maybe it would be better to move the conversation offline and arrange a meeting? Maybe you just need to send a link to your product, suggesting they check it out?
Either way, be careful. And remember rule 1: focus on the social aspect. Don’t just send a link saying “check out this amazing product” as soon as someone voices an opinion that might, maybe, just about be related to it.
Want to know more? Check out the full white paper with more top tips from social selling experts.