Sales is hard.
To people who dislike the sales process, sales appears to be just oily charm and high-pressure tactics.
But if you’re doing it right, it’s a complex interchange of asking questions, listening, clarifying, articulating and presenting value, overcoming objections and eventually asking for the sale, all in the name of helping someone solve a problem.
Earlier this month, we posted about how to use social media to acquire prospects (at the top of the funnel).
Looked at from your customer’s perspective, though, how does social media fit into the phases of the buyer’s process?
Broadcasting your message is always a good idea, but you have to put yourself into the buyer’s shoes and think about the process they use to buy. We’re a big fan of McKinsey’s Consumer Decision Journey framework, but this more granular one from Verde Martin is very useful as well.
Here’s a quick breakdown of social buying–the next critical element of social selling:
- Want. Great social media will help you get discovered and help your future customers better diagnose what their problems are. If you become an authority in your vertical and write about the common issues that you help clients address, you’ll naturally create a lot of content that lines up well with what Google wants. The language you use to describe what you sell (“social media outsourcing”) may be very different from how the buyer defines their problem (“need to recruit young employees”)–so remember what your buyer wants.
- Awareness. In the same way, being a publisher vastly increases the odds that you will be discovered in the first place. Companies that blog get 55 percent more website visits than those who don’t, and 93 percent of them increase the number of leads coming from their website by more than 50 percent. Increase awareness about your company by regularly publishing.
- Knowledge. Buyers will do their due diligence on you without you knowing. They will Google, they will look at your website and social media presences, they will poke around your website and they will ask their network. Solution sales is dead because buyers are self-educating—almost 60 percent of the buying process is complete before a buyer talks to one of your sales reps. If you aren’t getting their attention before the sales process starts, you are doomed.
- Selection and close, the next steps, are much less influenced by social media, but if you’ve done your job well in the previous steps, these steps should proceed very smoothly.
- Value. You will always need to reinforce your value messaging in the room, but you can start building the foundation long before it comes to the close. Writing a great customer success story and featuring it on your blog can be one of the bricks in that foundation. Here’s a great how-to on customer success stories from b2binbound.com.
Selling is a process with many steps, and social media can play a huge role in reinforcing each one of those steps.
While social media is invaluable for lead generation, don’t forget the big difference it can make with sales. Social buying is an entirely different animal than sales of days past.
If you do things right, your sales force will thank you. (Hopefully, at least.)
Adrian Blake loves and respects his sales force. He is CEO of Social Media Contractors.
Image credit: CC by Pedro Souza