New business development has always required finesse and the ability to strategize, prepare and plan before making contact with the right people at the right time. The way we sell is more important that what we sell and that's because, in the minds of buyers, you're solution looks pretty much the same as your competitors. Buyers have never been busier but they have also never been more empowered with 'social buying'. Their ability to research and run a reverse auction process with the selected few is potentially very dis-empowering for sellers.
Social buying is the other side of social selling. The smart buyers do their research online before engaging with the selling organization or sales person. You only have one chance to make a first impression and this includes your online presence where you can build trust and establish your value before you ever meet with your prospective new client. Here are 7 tips for effective modern selling.
1. Transform your LinkedIn profile to provide 'social proof' of the business value to offer and the values by which you operate. That way, when people check you out before agreeing to engaging with you or before a meeting; they'll see someone worthy of their time and trust. What do buyer's see when they look at your LinkedIn profile?... quota crushing sales predator ready to pounce or insigtful expert who can assist them?
2. Become a high value content creator and content curator to attract your prospective customers. What do buyers look for online before they would ever look for you, your company or your product? The answer to this should drive your content publishing strategy. LinkedIn Publisher is ideal if your in the B2B world and Facebook is perfect for B2C. Importantly, be where your customers are rather than expecting them to come to you on your website.
3. Hone your social listening / monitoring skills. Meet with your marketing team and ask for their active assistance in this regard. Talk with them about the types of trigger events that indicate downstream opportunity well before any feeding frenzy leads appear on your website. These could include scandals, mergers and acquisitions, new executives being appointed, changes in regulations, competitor announcements, etc.
4. Change your settings in LinkedIn to 'go dark' and be anonymous when you engage in a sting of research. But also go 'lights on' when you want your potential customers to know that you're taking the time and making the effort in doing your research to prepare and make the best use of their time.
5. Join all the dots and triangulate multiple sources to turn information into validated intelligence. Invest time on the target company's website, individual LinkedIn profiles and Twitter accounts. Analyze their connections, determine your social proximity and position for a warm introduction rather than a cold call. Most importantly, do all you can to map the power base and political structure beyond the organizational chart. The point of entry is vitally important otherwise you couldbe aligned with a losing agenda or blocked by someone without real clout.
6. Connect in context and with relevance. Never send generic connection requests so send the message from within their actual profile so you can change the automated text. Join the groups that they are part of and then read, listen and monitor. Feel free to 'like' but only weight-in when you have something worthwhile and constructive add. Think like a business person, not a sales rep, and work to become a valued hub amongst the spokes over time.
7. Engage with insight provide value. The cardinal sin of social selling is to 'connect and sell'... don't do it! Instead, always connect and engage with good manners and then send interesting articles, blog posts or other information that they will value. The time will come when you can naturally ask for a meeting or for information.
Here is an overview of strategic social selling with links to posts on the 5 pillars. I was recently ranked in the Top 50 Influencers worldwide in professional selling by Top Sales Magazine and then interviewed by Kelly Riggs for Biz Locker Room Radio where all of this is discussed.
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main image photo by Flickr: Spreng Ben Color Key Week – The Eye Of The Tiger