Step By Step: The Process of Social Selling

Editor’s Note: It’s a revolution — buying habits have irreversibly changed. The internet has revolutionized the way customers discover and consume information, and social media has transformed the way people communicate. It means buyers could be 60-70% through their buying cycle before they talk with you. As a result, smart businesses are embracing social selling, as Richard detailed in the first of 3 articles. In Part 2, he talked about the importance of engaging and curating to build personal brand and professional net worth. Now, in Part 3, he moves on to the process of social selling:

Who Is This New Social Salesperson?

Social selling involves leveraging social media platforms and tools to find leads, build relationships and ultimately close sales. It’s a role that’s become a hybrid of marketing, sales and customer support where professionals actively build the credibility and reputation of their brand by nurturing relationships with a targeted audience.

The new social salesperson is of course social media savvy. They’ll have an active social footprint filled with useful, relevant, interesting content that engages and informs their audience. Over time, they’ve positioned themselves as a trusted authority and as such are able to reach out to influencers and initiate interactions and relationships with prospects and customers. They take a proactive response to selling and use the social intelligence acquired through listening and monitoring relevant conversations across the social web to draw people along the sales funnel and consistently add new leads.

What is the 4-Step “Selling Formula”?

The starting point for successful social selling is to have a clear strategy for leveraging your social channels. Without this you risk indulging in pointless conversations with the wrong people in the wrong places.

To help, here’s a proven strategy you can use to harness the potential of social media to attract leads, build relationships and close sales.

Step 1: Keyword research:

Successful social selling relies on you engaging with the right people. A simple yet highly effective way to achieve this is to use keyword tools to discover the phrases and terms potential customers use to find out about your company and products. Your own Google Analytics stats, The Google Adwords Keyword Tool and Keyword-Finder all work well for this. Once you’ve identified these keywords, you can use them to identify potential leads by entering them into the search functionality available on some social networks.

Step 2: Identify key influencers:

Another tactic is to search for events, occasions, or topics that interest your target customer. For example, a search for “Inbound Marketing Show UK” would flag up people who are attending or talking about the event. From this you can create a “short list” of people to engage with. They may:

  • Show the potential to be interested in your business OR

  • Are a key influencer who, in time, may be willing to talk about your business with their audience

Remember. This isn’t about driving a quick sale. This guy is gone:

Instead you’re identifying people you’d like to build a relationship with that, in time, may generate business.

Tools such as Little Bird or Traackr make it easier to identify influencers – and you will find more value and functionality by subscribing to a Social CRM’s such as Nimble.

As well as locating “key people,” Nimble can also collate the valuable social intelligence you need to strike up conversations. What’s more, Nimble makes it easy for you to see how your chosen influencer is connected. In turn you can leapfrog from one connection to another and start engaging with the people surrounding your key person to create a “ring of influence.”

Step 3: Add influencer details to your CRM:

Once you’ve identified key people, add their details to your customer database.

Nimble has an easy, one-click import function that seamlessly pulls a contact’s available data and social media profiles. It means that at a glance, you’ll have a picture of your contact, their location and a record of what they’ve been talking about across their social media timelines. It makes engagement far quicker and easier. With Nimble, you can also “tag” inluencers with a unique name for easy sorting any time. You can use tags to create email recipient lists for personalized communications, too.

Step 4: Engage influencers and prospects:

Social media timelines provide invaluable insights into the people you want to engage with. So identify some conversational openers. In addition you’ll want to:

  • Follow on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn

  • Add an appropriate comment and retweet something the influencer has posted

  • Comment on a blog post

  • Monitor how the relationship develops so you can identify the right time to start a conversation about your business / product.

The Benefits

By using this strategy, in just a few minutes you’ve achieved several valuable tasks:

  1. Used keywords to cut through the social noise and identify key people / potential leads

  2. Used social tools to identify a short list of people to connect and engage with

  3. Captured their details into your CRM system so you can start a relationship

  4. Engaged with the contact in a non-salesy way

The Long View and Social Selling

Effective social selling requires patience. It’s not a quick-fix solution to a lack of leads but an ongoing process of incremental steps that build relationships and nurture prospects along your sales funnel.

In addition, effective social selling is a discipline. You’ve got to be consistent in your approach and continually update your timeline with useful content as well as strategically searching for key people to engage with. The best way to achieve this is to hone a system that works for you and then practice it habitually.

In turn you’ll build your personal brand, craft valuable relationships, and outsmart your competition who are only dabbling with social selling.