Social Selling is more about how you engage customers on a 1:1 basis rather than what content they look at or where they click. In a world where communication goes both ways engagement becomes critical.
There is nothing more annoying than getting a cookie-cut-like communication. Call it an email, a direct message on Twitter or an inMail on Linkedin. Templates do that. Well, not templates but the massive, thoughtless use we give to them. It depends on how much resource you’re dropping into your sales plays. Maybe it’s just you, your blog and your desire to get connections. Maybe you’re just part of a large sales team and you were told to use these templates.
Whatever the reason, any sales or communication tool out there can become a crutch if you don’t understand how and when to use them. Social Selling is about Engagement, and engagement is about empathizing so the more you customize your potential customer’s experience, the better results you’ll get.
Not customizing your customer’s experience presents at least 3 major problems both marketers and sales people know too well:
Very low conversion rates
Most content becomes relevant
Loss of credibility
All three of them are tied to Engagement. All three signal just one thing: you didn’t spend enough time thinking on how to Engage. There’s no reason for you to try and guess what your potential customer might want to hear about anymore. Your customers share thoughts, opinions and sometimes sentiment. You can use that but most probably don’t.
There is, in short, no reason for you to aim blindly, so here are 3 simple keys to avoid shooting in the dark through Social Selling.
1. Prospect rather than research. See what they are into.
This is the first and most important step to engage properly. Chances are most of your potential customers have some on-line presence. Remember we’re talking about people here, not businesses or companies. You will engage with people, that being the main reason why you need to work on interfacing with them.
Best way to do it is try to understand what’s interesting to them and why. Linkedin being the top business social network is a place to start looking. If you know who you are going to be talking to, then all you need to do is lookup their name and find their profile.
Did you know that with a basic and free Linkedin account you can see other people’s activity as long as you are somewhat connected to them? Here’s how:
Once you find their profile and open it, click on the white arrow that’s just to the right of the “send a message” button and a menu will appear. Go to the first option in that menu, “view recent activity” and you’ll see what it announces: their past (and recent) activity on Linkedin.
It should look something like this:
There’s basically two tabs you can check, if present. Anything they like, or share or comment (or all three of them) will show under the “Recent Activity” tab. That’s the fastest way to find a pattern on what your prospect finds interesting. If there’s enough information there you might even deduce they “why” behind that. You should also notice there’s a “posts” tab. If your prospect shows that one, bingo: it will show you blogs or posts they write and most of the time that is self-authored content. That’s a gold mine.
Use these enough and you will start finding those patterns. Read that content properly, find the patterns, and you’ll have laid the foundation you need to prepare your engagement action: customization.
2. Customize means differentiate. Never copy & paste anymore.
Templates, remember? Unless you’re doing something that’s really specific or has to be millimetrically perfect, you can drop them. Once you know how it works you can create your own content. The problem with templates is they are faster, and a good option for massive engagement. That’s not what we’re discussing right now though. We’re talking about engaging on a 1-1 basis. That means you will be customizing your communication to just one person.
Now that you know where to find specific information on your prospects, use it to tailor your communication. This is the second step to engage.
Using the same example I showed you above, I decided to pick on one of the subjects showing under the Activity feed or tab: Social Selling. I will treat this example as it was not my profile so it’s not so weird to explain.
I’ve used information that’s visible, such as amount of followers this person has and some content he shared. That alone allowed me to construct the Subject Line and the first 2 sentences of the email. The rest of that email so far has to do with one thing that was shared and commented as an update. This creates that no-template look and provides the reader with a very customized experience. It shows you’ve done your homework and you care enough about their experience while reading you.
Engagement is about empathizing and the best way to do so is not treating your counterpart as just a name. Prospect them, show you know them a bit and want to know more and they’ll open up.
If you do it properly, they’ll be ready for the last part and final tip: end with the action they want, not the one you want.
3. To engage means to connect.
The best part (and my favorite) of Social Selling is that if you’ve done your research and prospecting properly, closing with an action is not hard at all. Every single sales training I’ve attended and every sales cheatsheet you’ll read are all about that: end with an action. It’s typical, it makes sense…and they are waiting for it. Your potential customers were trained by people like you and meto quickly scan through your note all the way down to the “action” point. That’s when they usually read that you want to call them, or set up a meeting, or whatever action you push to them. After a few times doing that they don’t even need to get to that part, but if they do, that’s when they hit delete.
The last two paragraphs of the mail show exactly what I am after: a meeting with this person. Notice though that instead of asking for a meeting to discuss how I can help him, the text shows interest and suggests an action. It doesn’t request or demands one. The truth behind the text is that I’m trying to keep the connection alive by showing real interest in this person’s background and activity. That, plus the suggestion of a meeting at his will alone create the action point. It gives him the chance of saying “no” but mostly veering him into saying “yes”.
If that connection is broken before you finish your communication, the action gets lost and it just won’t happen. You need to make the action clear though there is no need to declare your full agenda or drop a calendar invite. If you do it right, if you connect properly and keep that connection live…chances are your prospect will say yes.
Research-Customize-Connect = Engagement, which is core to Social Selling. Try it out, mix it a bit, avoid automating engagement when it’s about you and just one other person and see what happens.
Remember. Social Selling is not “having a line”…it’s about not needing one.