As someone is involved with social selling training I am often asked about best practices including how to engage with a prospect for the first time. Let me start by introducing The 5 C’s of social selling. Credibility, Connecting, Content, Conversations and Conversions.
Next it is important to understand that social selling is a process not an event. There are more networks than LinkedIn to target plus there are rarely short cuts to building value and trust with potential customers. True engagement via social media networks is like building the pieces of a jigsaw, the customer see’s the picture being built (with content sharing and participation) and then once they see the full picture (lead nurturing) you are now in a position to commence the sales phase, also known as customer consideration and decision.
Here are a few tips I would like to share.
THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IN SOCIAL SELLING = VALUE.
To me, the most important thing is always provide VALUE to your potential customers and social network.
Social Selling is a game changer because it allows sales people to interact with buyers exactly where they are doing their research – online. Due to the change in the buyer’s journey and self-educational content being published online, sticking with old sales models and techniques is no longer an option. If buyers do not see the value a business or sales person can bring (credibility), they will simply move on to someone who will.
However, if a sales person goes our way to help the buyer through their journey from research, awareness to consideration with content and helpful conversations, they will have presented themselves and their company as a partner to potentially do business with. Therefore, always strive to provide to your social network and prospects.
SO HOW DO WE “PROVIDE VALUE”?
Well, providing value to people simply means being helpful.
At a detailed level, providing value on the social networks can be separated into a series of helpful actions (sharing content and information, engaging in conversations etc) so buyers come to acknowledge the sharer, which overtime gives sales people a deeper understanding of the buyer’s profile. Sharing is about giving freely really useful information on an area of interest, market trends, latest research or vendor whitepapers including the competition. It could be facilitating the introduction to someone the buyer might benefit knowing. Another share could be to notify them or a group to a webinar, event or briefing that would be beneficial for them to attend. These are just a few examples of how sales people can provide value to contacts and connections on an on-going basis (stay visible).
In my experience, the best social sellers are the ones who follow the 5C’s which is supported by doing research and being creative. Let’s say that during your research you see “snowboarding” in the interests section of one of your prospect’s profile, try sharing a cool snowboarding video with some text (could snowboarders be better business people) to a group or directly to the prospect. You could make a lasting impression, create awareness and establish credibility.
HOW SHOULD I REQUEST A LINKEDIN CONNECTION TO A PROSPECT?
Connecting is the 2nd C in the 5C’s of social selling. Before we discuss how one should request a LinkedIn connection, let us state what you should not do.
1 Never send a generic connection request to a prospect
2. Never include a sales pitch or mention your product/services in a connection request
None of the above will start your business relationship off on the right footing. Why not try a conversational approach. Using a casual tone just let the prospect know that you understand they have in interest in “abc” and you are available if ever they need information in your area of expertise. The only goal here is to maximise the chance of the prospect becoming a first degree connection. Doing so makes conversations, content sharing and building credibility easier as you set out on a conversion journey with the buyer.
Provide content and value:
Providing Context – Why is this prospect getting sent a connection request? Did they look at your profile, like or comment on some content you shared? Do you both share mutual connections?
Providing Value – People buy from experts, so position yourself as a valuable source on information for some specific topics.
The request text might read like this:
Thanks for looking at my profile and commenting on the article I shared in [name of group]. If you ever require information on [area of expertise], feel free to use me as a resource for whitepapers and research.
When it comes to connecting, if you do not have some real context, then do not send a connection request. It is better to nurture the prospect through Content and Conversations to build up your Credibility prior to requesting a connection.
SHOULD I WRITE AN EMAIL TO A PROSPECT?
Surely Social Selling has nothing to do with emailing a prospect I hear you say. Believe it or not but social selling and email prospecting can go hand-in-hand. You see, we now know that social selling provides us with a new way to engage with buyers AND it also provides insights into their social media lives. Some buyers are socially aware and others are socially active. These insights can be used to decide if the prospect fits your ideal customer profile alongside how to engage with them. Thanks to B2B lead generation tools, a prospects email address can be easily acquired so combining social selling with a warm emails can increase your chances of receiving a positive reply. .
As the buyers journey has changed It is important to interact with the prospect where they are active online whether that is LinkedIn or elsewhere. If the prospect is not active on social media then no point trying to engage them there, so sometimes trying the more traditional methods of communications such as an email or phone call can work better.
There is so much more to social selling, feel free to contact me regarding training workshops or comment on your own training tips.