Social Selling? I Think you are misleading there my dear Sir…
Social Media reshaped our world: it forced organisations to modify the way they are communicating with their audiences. It also gave the opportunity to the said audiences to easily interact with their providers. As stressed in a recent article from my colleague Anthony, feedback is everywhere and, more importantly, has grew omnichannel.
People transitioned from just sharing their daily live towards a more complex relationship with the brands they are using, hence following. In fact, they now use social media to find new products or services, to gain insights on these last ones and to shape their first opinion before getting in touch with your sales teams.
All things considered, people are now more informed than ever before when they enter the buyer’s funnel. Not to mention that the entry point is far more delicate to spot than what it used to be. For instance, your prospects may simply join the ball two minutes before midnight since they are already convinced that your products or services is what they need. They already tied bounds with your brands and narrowed their buying options themselves without meeting one of your representative or even being noticed.
Because of this, companies need to be more present in their prospects’ habitat, not only to push and promote their products, but primarily to set up a two-way funnel between their prospects or customers and their own organisation. However, pushing ads towards an audience your organisation has already identified is not what we can call Social Selling…
If it’s not pure promotion then, what is Social Selling anyway?
As mentioned before, from time to time, companies struggle to spot a prospect. Prospects may indeed remain unnoticed till their very first purchase. However, it doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are purchasing. As a matter of fact, when they decided to get in touch with your company or to subscribe to your services, they probably already have read tons of articles and reviews. They may have shared their buying intention with friends who gave them advices or recommended similar products or services.
Social Selling aims at identifying, targeting and researching out to prospective and existing customers through social media channels and social communities in an effort to engage them in conversations that result in a potentially mutually beneficial relationship. This means that your company needs to be transparent and share non-pushy content with its audience. This makes your reaching out to them feel more organic, by sharing relevant and highly valuable content. Forget the hard-selling approach. You are here to act like one of their advisors and certainly not like a sales person.
This means that your Sales Teams can seamlessly connect with prospects, not to push them, but well to provide them with useful information. Customers are constantly exposed to pushy communication. Your team can make the difference by engaging with the audience and sharing with them valuable insights on your products, your services, your companies etc. This can (and probably will) result in them profiling you as an industry expert! The key is to be relevant while remaining consistent.
It all sounds good, but how does it aid me in the buyer’s funnel?
I know that it all sounds too good to be true but think about it: Social Selling helps your brand to connect with its audiences before they enter the actual buyer’s funnel. At each moment, you may interact with people looking for services or products to those you are marketing. Whenever someone is sharing his opinion on your company, on your brand or even on your competitors, you can interact with him in an informal but very credible way.
By doing so, you build a relationship with the public. You strengthen the image of your company well before they actively start searching for your company, its products or its services. As a matter of fact, it’s a question of being at the right place at the right time. Just look out there and you will find plenty of valuable examples demonstrating how important Social Selling has become. Think about this hotel which casually reacted to an unsatisfied comment about its competitor, or this fast food chain who engaged with anyone who pinged them even competition. Social Buying means that people just received the right information when they were looking for it… For example, look at what Wendy’s answered to a request for the nearest McDonald’s 😉
This said, there are a few things to consider before applying Social Selling!
BE FAST: namely, if your company dares to dare, it also must be incredibly reactive. You can casually answer to criticisms that are addressed to your competitors to position your company. You may joke on their offers and tease them with rash content but you need to be reactive. A recent study published by Forbes stated that 70% of the people were expecting an answer from any company they were pinging via Social Media within a day. Should this delay not be respected, they may decide to fire back at you in a rather unpleasant way.
WORK AS A TEAM: since you will have to monitor all platforms as well to be able to answer to any kind of question. This means that other resources within your organisation will be involved in this Social Selling Process. Just a small example: ‘a customer of our direct competitor is complaining about the SLAs or about the product design, do we have a better solution?’. Those questions may require the opinion of an expert. Nor your marketing team neither your community manager has a direct answer to all questions they will be confronted with. Therefore, they need to be surrounded by experts. All the members of your teams can help and contribute to the Social Selling efforts.
BE PROFESSIONAL: finally, keep an eye on your company culture and its image. Be professional and consistent with the messages you are usually spreading. Don’t conflict with yourself. Don’t try to become a funny company if you are usually serious. Be natural, be true, be professional!
Concluding the deal!
As mentioned in the first paragraph, Social Media reshaped the world we are living in. Companies have profoundly modified the way they are interacting with their audiences.
However, do not underestimate the effort to be put into such a tactic. Social Selling does not equal being present on Social Media. A Social Selling Strategy requires massive investment. The whole point is to look for information about what people or companies are doing or saying. You can subsequently be highly relevant to them when you reach out.
The question is not: am I using the right set of tools to engage with my audience? But well: are we, as an organisation, in the right mindset to sell via Social Media?
It’s a matter of culture. You can’t do it halfway and everybody within your company should be involved. So before you start, ask yourself this small question: do we have what it really takes to deploy a Social Selling Program within our organisation?