6 ways to succeed at social selling

Angela Munroe, B2B marketing lead from Microsoft Devices shares six suggestions for how to use social media sites to grow your business

Social selling is an inexpensive way to build your company profile, stay connected with your existing customers, and engage with new ones.

But it’s not enough to set up a Facebook page and wait for the business to flood in. Successful social selling takes time, planning and commitment.

Here are six ways to generate sales through your use of social media sites:

1. Do your research

Effective social selling relies on approach. Before you start to engage with your audience, find out what makes them tick. People are very open about their intentions on social platforms.

Message groups, forums and discussion boards are great places to gain valuable insight into your potential customers’ needs, even before you’ve had a discussion with them.

2. Say the right things to the right people

Now you’ve found your audience, you need to know what to say. Develop relationships with customers, competitors, industry leaders – and anyone else who has valuable information to share – as well as your prospects.

This will help you learn their language and discover what’s important to them. Once you have an idea of what everyone else is saying, you can differentiate your engagements to make sure yours is the voice that stands out above the crowd.

3. Don’t just talk, listen

Although social networks are a great way to gather information on others, they are a two-way street. Use your networks to have meaningful conversations – people are much more likely to engage with you and your business when you pay attention to them.

The key to social selling is ‘giving in order to get’, so position yourself at the centre of your networks and interact regularly with those around you. But be warned, this involves more than just a quick ‘Like’ or a ‘Retweet’, so make sure you’re always bringing something valuable to the conversation.

Tools such as Klout can help you stay on top of this and give you access to real-time insight into what your customers and prospects are saying online.

4. Open up your conversations

With bigger, more complex sales, there are believed to be at least four influencers involved in every decision, so be sure to connect with as many decision-makers as possible when targeting an account.

Connecting with more people within the same organisation makes you less vulnerable to changes outside of your control, such as a contact moving roles or jobs. It also helps you to build a complete picture and stay on the radar of the business’s decision-makers.

5. Use the right tools for the job

With so many networks to manage, social selling can feel like a bit of a minefield. But there are plenty of relatively inexpensive tools to help you stay on top. Tools such as Discoverly will provide data about mutual connections on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. They help you to compile a complete picture of your chosen prospect.

You can also use tools such as Triggerfox to collate your networks into one handy prospect list. And you can use platforms such as Hootsuite to monitor what people are saying about your industry or company across a variety of social networks.

6. Publish far and wide

The major social networks are great for reaching broad markets, but outside of the big three there are thousands of niche social networks that cater to groups with more focused interests.

With a bit of research you may find one that connects your business with a ready-made audience of potential customers. Sites such as Pinterest and SlideShare are great for displaying your content, and sites such as Behance and Kaboodle are gaining users by the day.

So be sure you’re getting your message out across as many relevant platforms as possible. Oh, and if your audience can’t be found on a specific social media platform – don’t worry about building a presence there. You’ll be talking to yourself.

Do these tips work for you? How do you use social selling to help you grow your business? I’d love to hear ideas and experiences and share them with other small businesses. Please tweet me at @AngelaDMunroe

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