Social selling methodology is getting more attraction within the sales community. By definition social selling is the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process. Usually it refers to various sales related activities that takes place in social media. Personally I see social selling more like a methodology for bi-directional customer communication that covers also face to face customer meetings.
"All starts by understanding the customer and their needs"
So what are the key ingredients for social selling? I think that all starts by understanding the customer and their needs. And I don’t mean just the basics of the customer; you should really understand the dynamics of the customers’ business and know the key people involved in the buying process and their motivation. Finding all this information is not easy.
How to utilize all of the information that you are trying to gather? One of the key ideas of social selling is that you try to personate sales messaging to match customers’ expectations on a more personal level. This is not necessarily a straight forward exercise; it may require a lot of thinking and time by the sales team in order to get the messaging right for each person that is involved in the buying process.
"Personate your sales message to match customers’ expectations"
Although defining the right sales message is important that is just one step. You should also consider what is the right team for the customer meetings. If you’ve met the customer before or you know them in person you have a good basis for getting the things right. If you are able to gather sufficient amount of information about the persons involved prior to the initial meeting, you can select meeting participants so that they are well aligned with the people that are participating from the customer side. With the alignment I mean that you have a person in your team that is speaking “the same language” as customers’ participant. And also their personality and interests have a good match so that they are able to connect as people on a more personal level.
If the alignment between the teams is on superior level there is a possibility to create a need for additional products/services in your portfolio. On the other hand, if there is no alignment it may turn the customer totally off although they would have a clear need for the offered product/service.
"There are several benefits of successful social selling"
The benefits of successful social selling are almost endless. If you are able to create an excellent relationship with the customer, you are most likely the first person to hear if the customer has some new needs within your line of business. If there is a good alignment between the teams, you will probably receive a lot of inside information on the customer organization that will help you to get additional sales. It will also help you if you will face quality issues or challenges with the delivery schedules.
It’s good to notice that social selling is often referred as a new sales technique. In my humble opinion many successful sales people have used similar technique for long time before the term or social media was even invented. Usually these persons have been natural born sales people, they have had a natural capability to adapt their way of working with the customers’ needs and requirements.
Social selling is not a holy grail of sales that would suddenly duplicate your revenue figures. By using this methodology you can improve quality of customer relationships that will increase your sales in a longer run. Social media is a good tool to nurture your customers and prospects. However, you can hardly rely solely just on it. I believe in approach that uses several different channels in customer communication, you just need to find a channel mix that works the best for your business.