The rise and rise of social selling
Back in the day, selling was way simpler than today’s techniques. It’s not just about working a list of contacts – now you need great content to build yourself up as a brand.
For the uninitiated, social selling is the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process. Sounds a bit like old-school selling, doesn’t it?
But social media has added a new element to the mix – the ability to create and share great content.
Networking with people with a mouse click or finger swipe, and giving a sense of who you are and what you’re selling to people (minus a long lunch) calls for a new set of skills. And a new mindset.
MYOB social media specialist Jono Healey has seen social selling rise and rise. He says it’s not just the proliferation of social media sites like LinkedIn which has put a fire under the practice.
“Social media marketing as a whole has exploded. Because of the mass saturation of companies pushing products and services, traditional selling methods can fall flat,” Healey told The Pulse.
“As we move forward and the children of today become a buying audience, they’ll look for a brand or person who is genuinely ahead of most things when choosing to buy.”
This trend towards abandoning traditional advertising platforms means old-school selling, which is more based on trust and personal connection, is back in vogue.
But doing social selling well and just doing social selling for the sake of it will have vastly different results. Here’s how to do the former, so you don’t wind up looking like you’re just going through the motions.
Social selling best practice
At its core, social selling isn’t just about creating the right connections on LinkedIn. Create and share content that demonstrates your expertise within your network, while you potentially help a customer or prospect with a pain point they may be experiencing.
That’s why Healey says the first step in social selling is to know your audience.
“Make sure everything is authentic. Nobody likes someone helping for the sake of helping to meet their own goals. Sometimes part of social selling is just simply to educate as a thought leader or provide some light relief through some branded comedy,” he said.
“Think about what your audience wants to hear and needs to see, not what you want to show them.”
By creating relevant content that provides real value to your audience, you get a better shot at connecting with a prospective customer who knows you understand their problem and can offer real solutions.
Where people fall over is when they think social selling can be a smash hit right away, but it takes time to build trust.
“Social selling is all about developing relationships. It might be that the prospect isn’t ready to buy yet,” said Healey. “They might buy in a year, but they’ll remember all of their interactions with your content and come to you.”
Finally, Healey says the best social sellers took a shot on content that’s new and fresh, rather than trying to replicate the work of others.
“It might be a roaring success, or it might become clear halfway through that it doesn’t work. It’s better to have tried and pivot than to have produced the same old thing.”
Where people fall over
Healey sees a lot of people trying to tap the power of social selling, but he also sees a lot of them fail.
He says one common mistake is thinking social selling replaces traditional methods of selling, rather than simply augmenting them.
“Social selling online doesn’t magically take the place of other techniques. It’s still important for you to have face-to-face contact with your audience. It’s all about balance,” said Healey.
He also said that people made the mistake of thinking all content was good content. But with so much competing information posting onto timelines of social media users, publishing irrelevant content just to post something can be harmful.
“Quality over quantity is key,” said Healey. “Your audience would rather see one relevant post than six posts trying to cover too much that end up not covering any.”
Finally, Healey said small businesses viewed the idea of paying for reach as a waste. But, sadly, organic reach is (almost) dead on major social-media platforms.
“Social selling doesn’t have to cost the earth,” said Healey. “If you’re a small business, choose one audience or product to focus on at a time. Move through the others when you need to.”