Cold calling and lacklustre sales pitches are a thing of the past; now it’s killer content and a big digital following that reap the rewards. Forward-thinking companies are using social media as their primary sales channel— and with stats from Forbes showing that 78% of salespeople outsell those who don’t use social media, it’s not hard to see why.
Making a success of social selling requires balance, organization, and a thought-out strategy. You need to decide early on who and what you are on social media, and ensure that you’ve got the right social technology to help you attribute and make sales seamlessly. So, with that in mind, here’s how to make social media the only sales channel you’ll ever need.
What you want to do is really stake a claim as a social brand. When you then start to sell, you will find it a lot easier to convert customers and make sales. An empty profile won’t impress a potential customer and will make your content strategy look and feel weak.
Establishing your brand by marking out a clear identity for your company is important. An established brand not only makes you recognizable to your customers but presents an air of reliability. Coca-Cola are pros at this; they are one of the most recognizable brands in the world but still see the value of keeping their identity fresh and consistent across their social platforms.
Tailoring your sales approach to each social media platform is absolutely key. Selling on Instagram is wildly different to selling on Pinterest (though thankfully there is some overlap).
People use different platforms for different purposes, and they’ll expect to see content which reflects that. Ultimately this variety is something you should use to your own end; it allows you to engage with customers on numerous levels and ask for sales in unique ways.
Visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are great for sharing eye-catching pictures that evoke emotional reactions from your customers, and they both have widely used social ad features as well. A beautifully crafted Promoted Pin or Sponsored Story on Instagram can help you bridge that crucial gap between organic and promotional content.
Cluse is a great example of a company that uses Instagram to maximize sales through presenting clean, attractive images which generate followers and likes through branded hashtags like #CLUSELoveStories.
Buzzsumo found that videos are more likely to be shared on Facebook than any other content so take advantage of this by posting short, shareable clips. Sites like animoto are great for making professional-looking videos with ease. On Facebook, you might find that sharing knowledge and stories works better than just focusing on the visuals.
Keep up to date on what is working on each platform. If you’re not clued-up yet, do some more detailed reading on how each platform works and mould this to fit your sales ambitions.
Remember, customers aren’t taking time out of their day to hear your sales pitch; instead, they’re seeing and interacting with your posts in their own time.
Social media is all about community and to sell successfully you need to become an active part of it.
All your content should be engaging and interesting - something that will make your prospects stop scrolling and grab their attention. CEB found that on average customers are already 57% through their purchase decision before they make contact with a sales rep – see social media as the starting point of your sale. To this end, your content needs to be authentic — something that your customers will think about and come back to later.
Avoid spamming your customer’s timelines with repeated content, or over-promoting a product. Doing so is a sure-fire way to lose them.
Conversely, don’t let fear stop you from sharing at all. Heinz Marketing found that only 11% of sales teams are regularly sharing content. Keep a steady stream of content scheduled and make sure each post is as interesting as possible.
While you now know that engaging content is key, it isn’t king if it doesn’t have direction. As tempting as it may be to fire out a stream of posts when caught up in the social media flow, remember this is not your personal account.
Everything you post – even if it’s not immediately obvious to your customer – should be working towards an end goal. The survey by Forrester has shown that having a steadfast content strategy is key to running a winning sales program.
Set out your goals, then tailor your output to achieve them. This doesn’t mean you have to be rigid; in fact, finding innovative new ways of reaching your goals is an important part of success.
Social media analytics should play a part in your strategy so remember to review them regularly and factor them into your overall plan. If you don’t know how social media algorithms work, then now is the time to find out. In the long run, being strategic means making the most of your social selling goals.
You will also need to do some competitor research and digging around to see who you are up against. You won’t be able to make much of a dent into your sales figures if you’re battling it out in a niche where everyone has about 500K Instagram fans and you’re starting with 10! Set some realistic benchmarks and goals and build your social selling strategy incrementally.
Research established businesses and see if you can reverse-engineer their successful sales strategies. You will probably start to quickly spot patterns and trends amongst high-performing businesses — from investing in Instagram influencers to ephemeral video content.
Social media provides you with an excellent opportunity to seek out prospective customers. App Data Room discovered that 40% of salespeople are finding it harder to get responses from prospects. Using social selling increases your chances of having meaningful conversations with potential customers by interacting with them online.
Remember to watch the competition – see what they are doing: what’s working, and what’s not. See if you can mimic or find gaps in their services that you can provide to attract new custom.
Social media gives you easy access to a large pool of potential consumers , so make use of it by taking note of your customers’ behavioral patterns.
Most importantly, have confidence that the effort you put into engaging prospects will pay-off. A Sales Guy found that 72.6% of salespeople who used social media in their selling process outperformed colleagues who did not.
Social selling hasn’t just changed how you sell to customers – it’s changed how you should care for them too. The public nature of social media makes reputation a sometimes fragile thing.
Providing customer service through social media allows you to respond to customers quickly. It’s cheaper than running your customer service via telephone, and is generally easier to execute more efficiently.
Many social media sites such as Facebook provide a facility for users to give ratings and reviews of your services and it is important this feedback reflects well on your company. Good customer service will do wonders for your reputation and reach; stay on top of it and you’ll naturally increase your pool of customers.
Customer care can also help you tap into a service beneficial to you; Ad Week found that 93% of shoppers find UGC (User Generated Content) helpful when deciding whether to purchase something. Sharing content from happy customers makes them feel special and increases your chances of attracting prospects.
E-commerce brands should use UGC in their Facebook posts and social ads on a regular basis — make the most of a positive review by recycling it for your own social profiles.
There’s no denying that social media has become a powerful force in our modern society. Social selling allows you to harness that power and turn it into sales. Working hard in these areas will make your social selling the best it can be. Create shareable, entertaining content with a considered, welcoming approach to customers, and you too can transform social media into your #1 sales platform!
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who hates poring through data but loves what it can accomplish. You can read more of her work on her blog Victoria Ecommerce.Back to Small Business blogs
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