Flipping the script

Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2015

If you’re feeling brave, try a simple Google search of the phrase “Social Selling.” It will net you over 300 million results. That’s a lot of resources at your disposal. Many of the results will say the same things: find the right people, interact, share and provide content, build your brand, and build a relationship. And they would be exactly correct, those are the key factors in social selling.

However, there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s also the “how” you accomplish each of these objectives. Have you also considered the ways that the social selling process actually benefits you, personally?

We all know the Internet is a game-changer. Everybody, buyer and seller, has information and knows that it’s imperative to leverage social media to locate, organise, and use this information.

If you don’t find the right executive with the power to execute the sale, you won’t be successful. Utilising the online world, once you discover the target company and people you need to interact with, how do you demonstrate value, establish trust, and build relationships that transfer to 1:1 meetings in the real world?

Is there a way you can become a better sales professional through this process?

The answer is a resounding… absolutely. Whether you’re new to social selling or a seasoned pro, the recipe for success isn’t much different from traditional approaches. During the social selling process, we’re not actually selling. We’re using online media to showcase our ability to help executives find solutions to their specific business challenges. Of equal importance, although you might not be thinking about it, social selling has benefits for you that are every bit as important as the service you’re providing.

3 ways social selling benefits you (personally):

Demonstrate Value

  • Through building your brand.When you write a blog, respond to a post, share content, or ask an intriguing and thought-provoking question, you’re adding value for potential clients, but you’re also adding value to you and your personal brand. Sharing in online conversations is the perfect way to present yourself as a subject matter expert while still allowing the focus to remain on the client.
  • By contributing.You may have heard the phrase, “It is better to give than to receive.” Study after study clearly backs up the notion that humans feel more gratification through giving (don’t sales pros deserve to feel great about what they do?). Although, through contributing, you’re not just providing valuable resources to prospective clients, but creating a pathway to the building of relationships. Remember to focus on their world and ask yourself, “What can I do to make it better?” Besides, it feels good to contribute to the community and possibly say or share something that will benefit someone else.
  • With professional development. If you’re researching, contributing, and sharing, aren’t you, in fact, developing yourself professionally? Social selling is an avenue to push yourself, generate new ideas, discover innovative solutions and distinguish yourself from the crowd.
  • While increasing productivity.For even the most experienced salesperson, selling can be a mental, emotional and physical grind. A quick break from the traditional sales routine won’t hurt productivity, it will help  Be disciplined and take 5, 10, maybe even 15 minutes a day (to start) to focus on social selling. Not only will you grow your online opportunities, but provide yourself a refreshing breather from the daily grind.

Establish Trust

  • By presenting yourself as a resource. Executives are concerned with the bottom line and added value in sales relationships. You can’t get to the relationship phase without demonstrating value and establishing trust first.  Social selling, again, allows you to be perceived as an expert in your field and potential partner. It also means you’re reversing the traditional roles of fear or avoidance of salespeople to not only acceptance, but appreciation! It feels good to be needed and wanted and you can earn this status with thoughtful engagement and insightful contributions.
  • Through interaction. The more you effectively participate, the more positive exposure you generate, then the greater the chance to build a relationship.  Remember, you’re not actually selling with social media; you’re laying the foundation to sell. With each interaction, especially if you’re willing to do some self-coaching, comes the chance to work on and improve your online interpersonal communication skills.  Interact and learn from these interactions.
  • By delivering reliable contributions.You cannot build a relationship without trust and you cannot be trusted if you’re not trustworthy. Use social selling to deliver reliable content and to establish your brand as a dependable resource.  Every move you make should be based building a foundation that will lead to sustainable partnerships. When you establish trust, on both sides, you reduce stress and increase the positive aspects of safety, security, authenticity, and collaboration. Trust is at the root of a healthy relationship, it simply feels good, and benefits everyone.

Build Relationships

  • Through a sense of belonging.Abraham Maslow’s work has been preaching the importance of social belonging for decades. When you use social selling, you actually benefit both spiritually and mentally. When you join a business community and contribute, you become part of something, you fulfill one of our most important needs, a sense of belonging.
  • By building bigger networks.According to a recent article on com, cold calling works less than 3% of the time. There are situations in which we still need to do it. However, if you’re only getting positive results once in every 33 attempts, it doesn’t take long to get discouraged. What’s more fun, cold calling or investing the time to build a network through which buyers actually come to you?
  • While improving you. Start by making sure your own online profile truly reflects the message you want to send to executives. Is it just a resume or does your profile demonstrate your expertise and the value you bring?  Target the right people, pay attention to who they interact with, read their bios, follow them, and join groups they are associated with. Then, remember and use the social selling equation: content + conversations + relationships = sales. Throughout each of these phases, self-examine, consider ways you can benefit and improve your ability to seamlessly deliver your selling process both online and offline.

What’s the end game? According to a Forbes article authored by Mark Friedman, 79% of sales professionals who incorporate social selling are more successful than those who don’t!  That’s a compelling argument, but don’t do it because it’s trendy (it’s not, it is traditional sales reformatted to a growing platform).  Don’t do it because you’re supposed to. Change is inevitable and early adopters excel while laggers get left behind. When you decide to build social selling into your routine, or simply look for ways to be better at it, do it for you.

To be an effective social seller, you must embrace every phase of the social selling process. Better yet, if you recognise personal value in the continuum, then you’re not only expanding your business, but increasing your own capacity, skills, and development. Enjoy it. Through strategic social selling, you’re not only growing your contacts and increasing your qualified opportunities, you’re investing in you. That’s the most important investment a sales professional can make.

Sell with Value! 

Julie Thomas is President and CEO of Value Selling Associates brought to Singapore through Fellettis.

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