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Businesses with active blogs generate 67 per cent more leads than their less-connected peers
Businesses with active blogs generate 67 per cent more leads than their less-connected peers

Social selling: connect like never before

Social selling helps businesses cut through the awkward formality of customer communications. Hari Raghavan reports on how to form consumer relationships well before anyone enters a physical store.

Imagine you’re at a party where you don’t know many people. You’re happy to mingle with other guests to pass the time – you’re a sociable sort of person after all with (ordinarily) plenty to say – but you’re finding that you have to force conversation when none arises.

You’re interjecting into conversations because you fear you won’t be noticed if you stand idly by.

Wouldn’t the whole experience be easier if you knew who to approach and what to say right off the bat?

Wouldn’t your conversations be more genuine, more productive, if you’d prepared by building relationships?

Building social relationships
This is the problem social selling solves. It allows businesses to form better connections and improved levels of service and personality with prospective customers. It also ensures communication is tailored to buyers with specific interests and needs.

According to InsideView – a provider of customer relationship management systems – businesses with active blogs generate
67 per cent more leads than their less-connected peers. Those using Twitter can drive twice as many leads.

What follows are a few ways that businesses can leap ahead with social selling:

1. Listen first, post later
Buyers won’t take kindly to brands or salespeople who aren’t willing to hear them so make it a point to reach out to customers personally if they should ask a question, make a complaint or raise an issue.

Tag them in posts and keep an eye on the hashtags they use. Be vigilant as to the topics or solutions that come to trend so you can speak their language when the time comes to approach them, or when they approach you. Show them you listen and are invested in solving their problems.

As an article from Tech Cocktail points out, members of social networks aren’t likely to all be in the same place in the buying cycle.

This means businesses should vary the tone and aim of the pieces of content they offer. Provide a link to an article, for example, about famous diamonds here, and a photo of a new jewellery range that is now available in store there.

2. Make personas a priority
It’s imperative to be personal and tailored in all communications with social media users – so do your research. Look up individual users if they should reach out or express a grievance. Come to them armed with information on ways to help service their needs.

Also consider your own persona as a salesperson or a user of social media. What are the business’ own interests and specialties? Prospects won’t trust an approach by a business looking only to sell, sell, sell.

Build “curbside appeal”, as Gerry Moran, head of social media marketing for SAP in North America, puts it in his article titled, The cure for the common cold call is social selling.

3. Put relationships before product
When it comes to social media, businesses are as much educators as they are ambassadors for their “brand”. Don’t just hawk wares.

Instead, really work to show how products and services can be useful and how prospects can benefit. This might mean providing a downloadable guide on how to care for pearls on the business blog or promoting the fact that there is a manufacturing jeweller in-store to create custom-made pieces.

According to Moran, customers also value education. “89 per cent of buyers say vendor-provided educational content is acceptable on social networks,” he says, “so using social media to distribute this content to build your reputation is a solid cure to the common cold call.”

More suggestions from Moran include:
•  Be efficient and smart in the interactions you have: follow customers on Twitter; “like” material they share and retweet their content; place them on public lists; comment on their blogs; contribute to conversations in shared forums and pass on links to third-party content.
•  Open up a line of communication with customers. Pose questions to them and reply thoughtfully. Once a dialogue has been started, connect with them on LinkedIn.

As always, preparation is half the battle and success lies in the collision between preparation and opportunity. Take the time to create and foster relationships and reap the rewards of social selling. 

Hari Raghavan

is a corporate communications specialist for Act-On Software, a marketing automation provider. Visit:

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