By Alex Butz

“Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: “Wouldn’t you like to have that?” Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?”

― Dale CarnegieHow to Win Friends and Influence People

This excerpt really captures the essence of what we are out to accomplish, as business men and women—increasing awareness around the solutions we provide to give customers what they want.

A Salesman’s Tips for Navigating Social Selling

Selling is about much more than a transaction of goods or services, it is about listening, and understanding the need in order to provide the right solution. Through this approach, you will find you are able to develop long lasting relationships with your customers.

A customer can find similar solutions anywhere—they will continue to do business with you because of the rapport they share with you.

The social networks and communities we are all a part of these days provides a stream stocked with all of the customers we could ever want, you just need to know how to catch them.

It is also important to meet your customers where they are finding and searching for their information; choosing the right social channel to maximize engagement with your target audience.

Don’t fish in the wrong stream.

Pinckney Fishing in the Social Network Stream

Steps to Succeed in Social Selling:

Strong Brand Presence

Your social brand presence may be the first impression you provide. In large part, this will be the content you post, case studies you share, and the way you talk about your services. Create value and put thought behind your strategy so you can deliver the right message and accomplish the goals you and your team have set.

Be intentional with what you post–have a content strategy centered around your ideal buyer profile and what their needs are. There may be several unique buyer personas you are hoping to attract, so be sure to have content catered to each buyer, and at each stage of their buying journey.

The three stages of the buyer’s journey are as follows:

1. Awareness – the buyer realizes their need or problem

2. Consideration – the buyer researches possible solutions and begins to narrow down their options

3. Decision – the buyer pulls the trigger on the solution they believe to be the best

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership takes time to develop, but once achieved, the presence and authority you will have pays dividends on the effort it took to attain.

In today’s digital world, content is king, but to don the mantle of Thought Leader, you don’t always have to focus on creating content. Contributing and engaging in conversations within your industry will help you to stand out and begin to gain recognition.

Providing insightful and memorable feedback is an easy way to make new connections, develop relationships, and expand your network. These instances will create opportunities to reference relevant examples of your own content or case studies and hopefully connect the dots for new user.

Consistency is another very important component for social selling to be successful. You cannot hope to accomplish your goals or be effective if you only engage with your network every once in a while.

Stay active. The work week can become very busy and other things can take precedence, so make sure to set some time aside to focus on social selling each day. Odds are, you will learn something from this as well.

Maintain a natural curiosity and you will soon find yourself making connections you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Social Listening

Dale Carnegie writes, “to be interesting, be interested”. A genuine curiosity is a common trait among successful salespeople. It will be your tool to uncover where their needs are rooted, and if you know your business well, you should be able to quickly suggest recommendations and solutions to their problems.

Social listening is similar to active listening, the obvious difference is that you cannot interact face to face within a social media platform. That said, it is more important to understand what people are saying in order to respond insightfully and strategically. Ask questions, and offer to chat offline if the conversation allows it.

Social listening will be key to where you spend your time. Knowing the topics, keywords and phrases within the verticals you are pursuing will eliminate wasted energy and time. Join the groups that are centered around the industries you work well with and the groups that your customers are a part of.

There are groups for everything–all you need to do is start or join the conversation. Identify common obstacles, and offer case studies that show how you overcame that challenge–if you don’t have that content, create it!

The 80/20 Rule

This part of your strategy is what ties everything together. The WHY.

Why are you writing what you are writing?

How are you coming up with topics?

What goals have you set within your content strategy?

The 80/20 refers to two types of content you can create. Informational or promotional.

Informational content, which should be your focus, is intended to answer questions and address issues, concerns or problems that people are experiencing. It should educational by nature and offer suggestions and recommendations for solutions.

The best way to source these topics is to be an active social listener. Keep your “ear to the street” and monitor the conversations in the communities you take part; you will soon find that you have plenty of subjects to broach.

Promotional content is more focused on you and your business, which should only make up 20% of the content you publish. You may promote a new white paper or eBook in and effort to convert a new customer. Earlier, I mentioned the buyer’s journey; it is the decision stage where you will find content that focuses more on the promotion on your goods or services. This is the bottom of the sales funnel, where you engage with an individual that is ready to buy, or has at least raised their hand to get more information.

Social monitoring, listening and selling are becoming a big part of the business world, so make sure you have a plan in place. Don’t get left behind.

If you want to know more about how to set up your social media channels and begin to create content to put you on the map, download our Free Social Media Handbook. Happy Selling!