Surprisingly I see much written about social media marketing: spreading brand awareness, reaching target groups, pushing out promotions, even efficient customer service. But one thing that is seldom discussed is the use of social media by sales professionals. And why not? After all, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ are just communications channels. They serve the same purpose as the telephone, networking conferences or even the front door of a prospective customer. Despite all the high-tech hype, social media is just another way for a sales person to contact and then interact with potential buyers.
Here are five reasons why you should consider incorporating social media into your sales process:
- It beats cold calling. Cold calling is the traditional technique for hungry, driven sales people. But the effectiveness of this brute force technique is drastically declining. A recent study by Baylor University’s Center for Research found that for every for every 330 cold calls, only one appointment resulted. Social media allows for a gradual, more comfortable warming than a jarring cold call. Rather than knocking on a prospect’s door as a stranger, you can pass in the street, say hello, engage in conversation and gradually win the comfort and trust of the prospect.
- You will have an edge over your competitors. According to a recent Harvard Business School survey, only 12% of companies are including the sales team in social media planning. That means that you can have a distinct edge over competing company sales reps as you listen and respond to questions and requests over social media channels.
- You get to be a fly on the wall. Everyone is using social media: your customers, your prospects, even your competitors. And they are constantly talking, about what they like, and what is a huge hassle. All that chatter is real information… and much more efficient than eavesdropping on a few conversations at a networking event.
- You have a better chance of being at the right place at the right time. With social media you get to be right where your prospects are, listening to what matters most to them. When a prospect complains via social media, they are far more likely to engage with a salesperson who responds to that frustration rather than a cold call product pitch.
- You can influence early (rather than defend later) in the buying process. Today, buyers spend far more time researching and moving through the buying process before they engage vendors. Much of the buyer’s journey leverages social media. Social selling allows sales people to engage buyers much earlier in their journey. You get to help shape the solution to the problem rather than being forced to respond as just another "vendor" later in the sales process - where you are evaluated largely on price.
Do you use social media in your selling process? What have been your successes and frustrations? Share in the Comments section below.