There’s probably hundreds, if not thousands of blogs around Social Selling out there. And there’s more than a dozen tools out there that allow you to automate and maximize your presence in Social Networks.
I think this one should be different, because it’s been written by a Sales person who uses Social Selling for real. I can tell you something I know from a sales perspective: the best tool never comes out of a template.
It actually comes out of one owns effort in adapting whatever knowledge you get into something that works. I do like templates as they provide guidance but in my experience, they never work as advertised.
Here’s 5 things I’ve learnt so far by reading a lot, trying out of what I read over and over and tweaking that into something that finally worked out.
Don’t just repeat what others do. Observe, learn and adapt to your business.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Who hasn’t quoted Einstein on Insanity right? But it’s actually quite appropriate in this case. There’s so many tutorials, so many “how-tos”, white papers, free e-books and the likes that it’s just confusing. You can just pick one source of knowledge or many, one automation service or another and yet you might not hit the mother load. There’s a reason for that: even if your competitors are doing it one way, it doesn’t mean you should do it that same way. Simply put, as with every other sales process, it only works if you own it, learn from it and make it work for your business.
Metrics. Use them.
An open discussion I have with a few colleagues is impact and how to measure it. Can you measure a Sales Rep effectiveness based on how many business meetings he holds? Of course you can, as long as you set the right metric and measure the rep’s activity. Can you measure how effective his or her presentation skills or charisma are? Harder, but you still can with the proper metrics such as engagement and conversion rates. If you do measure what your reps do on a daily basis, there’s no reason not to measure what they do on Social networks as well. What’s even more important: there’s already a lot of information you can extract from those common pools of knowledge on what to measure and how. You just need to pick the ones that apply the most to your business.
Don’t fully automate, don’t go entirely manual either.
There’s plenty of vendors that have started offering automation tools that will allow you to create a stronger online presence or brand…up to a certain point. You can even automate engagement, which is great when you think on a massive operation but as you know, people buy from people, not from bots. If you’re engaging customers on a 1:1 or 1:many basis, you need to limit what you do through automation. You can certainly use solutions such as Hootsuite to schedule some messaging and watching over your followers, or even pushing out content to multiple platforms but when it comes to 2nd level engagement (as in “I’ve already gotten your attention, now let’s talk”) keep it personal. That’s when you drop automation and start treating a lead as exactly that.
Engagement works better if you customize it…to a certain point.
Automation can help you get there thought it might not be enough. It’s not just about having killer content or the proper engagement channel, it is also about how much time you spend figuring out what’s needed for each specific customer and how you’ll use that information. Sometimes not even automation helps. Consider that some part of the engagement that customer expects today come from personalization or customization and what my sales experience tells me is you can’t automate that. Think of it as if you were a customer: would you expect a template-kind-of-approach from someone trying to sell something to you, or would you rather have that person know a bit more about your business and maybe yourself? Wouldn’t you appreciate that sales rep’s job better if you felt he knew how to help you instead of just wanting to sell to you?
Make sense. Don’t just drop a pitch.
If you’re on Linkedin and/or Twitter and you’re at least mildly active you will understand this better than the rest: how many times have you received senseless speeches or pitches through your inbox? Sales people trying to sell ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to you, most of the times through automation tools (such as auto-responders). What if you they did have something valuable you would be interested in having? What if you would be open to even having a call or a meeting with that person…if he or she would have just said the right thing? Now turn it the other way: what if you are losing potential customers just because you are spamming them with what you think is a killer pitch?