The New Social Selling: Leveraging Social Networks to Increase Revenue and Build Your Brand


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Social networks and online communities are taking the marketing world by storm, and their effects are now beginning to filter through the business world in new and innovative ways, with the very real potential to radically change the way you sell.

What exactly is social selling? There are a variety of worthy descriptions and explanations, but I think this one describes it best: Social selling is the promotion of your products and services using social tools to converse and collaborate with people.

Social media enables you to narrow down your target group, thus creating a collection of ideal prospects and company decision makers

Why do I think this makes sense for sales people and marketers? Social selling is a low cost way of driving highly targeted traffic through the pipeline. Said another way, social selling helps you find the person you want to sell to and secure them as a prospect/customer at a low barrier of entry.

Social media enables you to narrow down your target group, thus creating a collection of ideal prospects and company decision makers—people who are inquisitive, open-minded, passionate and maverick enough to take risks. These people know what is going on in the market and they are the key influencers and risk takers that will drive revenue moving forward.

And where is the best place to find such people? Undoubtedly the social networking sphere, where it is possible to congregate and engage in the kind of transparent and interactive communication that gets things done, driving revenue and new opportunities for both marketers and customers.

Social media furthermore provides the opportunity for marketers to create a more personalized customer experience. Nobody wants to interact and buy from an “anonymous salesperson,” and it’s crucial that companies acknowledge this and begin to quickly modernize their strategies. Selling today is fundamentally about customer engagement and direct communication, and the sales organizations that embrace these new tools most quickly will find themselves in a good long-term position. Those that do not will be at a severe disadvantage.

Sales is inherently about building relationships, trust, and referrals. The diversity of social networking sites and online communities available today provide us with simple platforms to design compelling social selling strategies.

Here are some tips and specific guidelines you should follow for engaged with social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to fully take advantage of the latest tools, stay ahead of the pack and thrive in this new “social selling economy.”

Recommended Social Selling Activities

  1. Go through every major social network daily. This will help you discover connections within target accounts and understand how your prospects interact within their networks.
  2. Spend a good hour engaging in “social selling” in the morning and then follow up throughout the day. Being aggressive is what drives success.
  3. Build your audience: What really makes social networks valuable are the people, so it is important that you find those most relevant to your business in order to build your audience and generate prospects.
  4. Listen to the conversation: What are your prospects/customers discussing on LinkedIn? What are they Tweeting about? This is key to understanding their pain points and finding out how you can help.
  5. Join the conversation: Consistent, genuine communication and the distribution of well-conceived content will help build your audience and build relationships, trust, and credibility.

Connecting on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great tool that not only strengthens and extends your existing network, but also allows you to connect with target accounts, opening doors to further opportunities. To take advantage of all the benefits of LinkedIn, you must:

  1. Create a company page: The more people linked to a company page the better.
  2. Join relevant groups and participate actively in discussion groups where you can provide expertise and suggestions.
  3. Link to as many connections as possible and connect via LinkedIn every time you meet someone new.
  4. Connect with all your customers and frequently engage with them—never stop building that personal connection that is crucial to business success and successful selling.

Leverage Facebook Relationships

Early on, Facebook was known almost exclusively as a place for college students to meet new friends and connect with old. Facebook has since emerged as a very important tool for leveraging your social selling strategy, creating a strong brand for your company, and even simple targeted advertising.

Take the following steps to reap the rewards:

  1. Join all relevant groups and networks and engage with other group members in discussion forums.
  2. Comment and post items of note—especially links to company and industry articles.
  3. Promote your company, industry events and Webinars with the event feed tool.
  4. Market directly to your friends using group messages and wall postings.
  5. Take advantage of Facebook’s targeted advertising and place ads for your company within specific company’s and targets profile pages.

I actually work closely with a company who has experienced great success by creating a viral video for Facebook to bring in quality leads. They leveraged a social media platform to deliver a video within Facebook about the company’s solutions and services and generated over 2 million views! Viewers could watch, share and embed the video, as well as join the company’s Facebook group and invite their like-minded business friends to join as well. In fact, members can even download their software or a white paper directly from the group profile page. While definitely an alternative method to communicate the company’s value, the campaign was hugely successful in driving awareness and actual leads.

Micro-blogging on Twitter

There has been a great deal of discussion recently around the growing popularity of Twitter and the numerous successes big brands are experiencing using the micro-blogging site. Recently, my company Marketbright was in the final stages of discussion with a prospect and I was able to use Twitter to find out who else was on the short list, which ultimately helped my selling strategy. Similar to LinkedIn and Facebook, when using Twitter it is important to:

  1. Create a company and individual profile.
  2. Follow those you know—and those you want to know.
  3. Tweet regularly and provide insight and expert opinion on industry trends.
  4. Monitor discussions to find out what your customers and prospects are saying.

Social networks unquestionably are filled with millions of smart, affluent and influential people, and they are absolutely a vital component of a successful marketing strategy today! While there remains a murkiness around how introducing digital insights and interactions will affect the selling process, this new social selling strategy is a necessary response to how our prospects and customers have changed, how they want to be sold to and interacted with, and how we must learn to do business.

Have at it and feel free to contact me directly at mike.pilcher (at) marketbright (dot) com if you want to discuss any of these issues further, or just share your own success story.

Mike Pilcher
Mike Pilcher, VP Sales and GM International at Marketbright, has more than 20 years of business and enterprise sales experience. Before joining MarketBright he held sales executive positions at HyperRoll, Velosant, Epiphany and Tenfold Technology. Mike is the author of ProSultative Selling, which describes how technology is changing Sales and Marketing functions.


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