The Internet has drastically changed the sales landscape in the past decade. Customers are more informed than ever. “Social selling” is a huge topic at sales conferences and in sales blogs these days. But what is a “social sale” exactly? How does it work? And is there ever a time you should walk away from a social sale?
Let’s start with the basics.
What is a Social Sale?
A social sale is a B2B sale made with the assistance of social media technology. Typically, LinkedIn is the appropriate platform for B2B. Twitter works too, and other B2B social platforms are emerging. Facebook is more ideal for B2C social sales.
How to Make a Social Sale
You won’t get much business from a cold email with a canned pitch about why your product is great. The social sale takes time. It is a relationship-building process.
Engaging the prospective customer on social media is the first step in creating a connection. Follow them on social media and comment on their postings. Retweeting, sharing, and imparting useful information helps build the relationship. Adding value to the conversation might encourage the prospective customer to follow you back as well.
Once you’ve established a relationship and know the customer better, you can better tailor your pitch. Provide solutions to their unique problems, and involve your product or service. You can’t write a great business proposal unless you deeply understand the customer, and the customer believes that you understand them.
When to Walk Away
Since building a relationship over social media takes time, it’s definitely more difficult to walk away from a potential business deal.
Walking away from a sale is hard, but there are times when it is appropriate and smart to do it. In times like this, you’re actually helping yourself and the customer by walking away.
- Not a “win-win” deal. In a “win-win” deal, both parties benefit from the agreement long-term. “Win-lose,” “lose-win,” and “lose-lose” deals are scenarios where one or more of the involved parties are distinctly disserved by the outcome of the deal. They create relationship strains that will not only cause future deals to be lost, but create bad feelings that can potentially permanently poison the business relationship.
- Unrealistic expectations. Customers expect you to provide the services in line with your capabilities. But it’s also important to understand and gauge whether or not the prospective customer will likely have impossible expectations. If you are unable to meet a customer’s expectations they may come back on a social media platform and complain about your “underperformance.” Don’t risk it if the customer has totally unrealistic expectations.
- “Nickel-and-dime” behavior. When a prospective customer continually tries to force you to adjust your pricing over a small sale, comparing your product to a competitor’s inferior one, this sale is probably not worth your time or effort, because the customer does not value the price/performance ratio.
As a sales pro, you have to commit to your position and the value of the product or service you’re delivering. You have to know when to walk away from the social sale.
Your willingness to walk on a deal, can also potentially soften the buyer’s position if they see your commitment to the value you are offering them. It is a negotiation after all.
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