Listen “sales”, – There is no such thing as Social Selling!

No doubt this statement will bring the wrath of those “social selling” experts who have arisen over the last few years.
Don’t get me wrong – there is an incredibly powerful and commercially viable way of selling by leveraging social platforms, so let me explain.

First, I have a problem with the phrase “social selling”, mostly because it gives the impression that if you jump onto a social media platform, you will immediately be able to sell something. You won’t, at least not straight away. Using social platforms as an additional channel requires a strategy and one that teaches you to move from a day trader to a long term investor and builder of relationships. Yes you may be stumble upon an update that says ” I need to buy [your product], please contact me” but this is an exception and not the rule.

I also struggle with calling a sales person a “social seller”. Does this individual now only sell on social platforms, or more importantly are they a seller who not only utilises the traditional methods of selling but also blends in the benefits of using social tools to add tremendous value to those traditional face to face and telephone meetings?

Social selling does not work when detached from traditional sales methods. I want to share a strategy that will enhance those traditional methods and if done correctly may even negate the need for cold calling.

Now that I have sorted out the jargon lets look at how the commercially viable Social Sales teams do it. The rule is; create the social wrap.

Below is a suggested approach to blending your traditional methods of selling to enable or influence a purchase decision. Here are my five tips:

1: Build your brand.

2: Contribute to discussions.

3: Network

4: Provide relevance through thought leadership.

5: Practice the law of reciprocity, always.

Build your brand.

Building your brand is key and should be the foundation of any great sales person. You are researching your clients and gaining insights to their personality, interests and business synergies. It would be naive to think that your clients are not similarly checking you out. Right now the strongest platform to convey and market your expertise is LinkedIn, but that platform may not be the only one! Yes you are in marketing now, the marketing of your value and credibility.

Contribute to discussions

Participating in discussions is not just about listening to what your clients are saying or understanding what they are listening to. It is about adding your point of view to the conversation. Don’t sell your product; instead offer advice, strategies, coaching on things to consider, how to guides. Add value to a discussion, and in so doing become the authentic helper.

Network

Network and connect with people. Whether you met face to face or virtually, if you feel that reciprocal value can be achieved then invite them to be part of your network. Top tip; always personalise the invite, because not doing so shows a lack of professionalism and integrity.
Utilise your network. Earn social credit by connecting people to others that will add value and benefit them. By doing so you will increase your network in size.
Also use your network to influence, for instance Twitter is business networking on steroids. Surround your self with people you want to influence and provide them great content, relevance and value.

Provide relevance through thought leadership

You need to understand your network. Two important question you could ask yourself are: What types of information would they benefit from? Where and when are they seeking it? This will help you ascertain which platforms will benefit you the most. Consider blogging, as this will become a huge asset to your branding and thought leadership. As your network increases in size so will the diversity and quantity of your content.

Practice the law of reciprocity

Trading favours is a huge part of doing business in the social world. If you are already utilising your network and introducing people to others, you are already practicing this law. Read more at Wikipedia 

So those are my top five tips for creating a social wrap.
It is all about building a brand, sharing your expertise, offering your helpfulness and building relationships and influence that will enable you to sell more using social media.

Share your best practices and tips below on how you are using social tools to help sales. And don’t forget to practice the law of reciprocity now

LinkedIn – Use colour to connect behaviour

The strongest platform to build a business relationship has got to be LinkedIn. Everyday I speak to new people, some to learn from and others I spend time helping, and I enjoy it.

So here’s something I would like to pass on to you.

Firstly I am assuming that you have a professional style photograph, this is your opportunity to leverage every opportunity to convey your self in the best possible way.

What I would like you to consider is your back ground. What do you have currently?

Consider having a gradient background, from Blue to White. Here is why…

BLUE:

Blue is the colour of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.

Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect. Blue is strongly associated with tranquillity and calmness. In heraldry, blue is used to symbolize piety and sincerity.

Light blue is associated with health, healing, tranquillity, understanding, and softness.
Dark blue represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.

WHITE:

White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the colour of perfection.

White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity.

In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it’s the colour of snow. You can use white to suggest simplicity in high-tech products. White is an appropriate colour for charitable organizations; angels are usually imagined wearing white clothes. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products.

 

This is not something you can control, this is subliminal messaging. So if you want to be trusted, convey intelligence and all round goodness, perhaps this is something to consider.

My Background (by accident) has blue to white with a plant thrown in for good measure. Green by the way is “harmony and growth”.

What do you have as your background right now? Use the comments area below and say hello.

Smoke Signals! – Are you listening to me?

If your on LinkedIn and regularly visit, you will be familiar with the home page and the stream of updates from your network. A great way of keeping in touch, listening, sharing and engaging where appropriate.

It is a great opportunity to share something that grabs your attention, with others and to say “Great article, thanks for sharing” or “Here is my opinion”. Not only does it notify your  network they also show in the poster’s network. Visibility to others is KEY.

Take this example today – an interesting debate on customer services from Rob Wilmot. I liked it and by doing so shared the article to my network. I also wrote a comment directly on the post.

Whilst my first degree connections are all interesting people, providing great content, I want to know what my second degree and sharing and posting. Did you know you can?

Pop into LinkedIn and go to Signal – you can find it under the heading of news. Now you have the chance to see those smoke signals that have always proved a challenge to get to.

You can even play around with the settings to pick out “seniority” or even “company”. You can save them for future perusal. So add your likes, your comments, get your self visible to people you want to get through to. Earn the right through social capital to have that coffee.

Do you currently use this? What success’s have you had? Did you know you could do this?

Get Social Selling ROI in 2012

I have been in sales before I even left college, my first sales job was selling ice cream on a bike and then I moved to being an estate agent role, we were loved in those days. Twenty years later I am still in sales and still enjoy it. Sales is not a dirty word.

Selling on social media does not exclude the idea of having some fun, of which I do, and no, success is not as easy as being engaging and having personality.

The global economy and financial markets are about to collapse, jobs are scarce, and consumer spending remains weak. Enter the promise of social media. We’re nearly five years into the social media revolution, but most businesses are agonising, not revolutionising. If you are one of them you’re not alone. Yet despite what all the experts and research companies keep telling us, there are proven cases of social media usage generating a direct and measurable return on investment (ROI) for businesses. What’s their secret? They’re defining ROI as S-A-L-E-S generated from social media marketing, not engagement. And you can, too.

The Problem is Engagement

Want to remain in your current job forever or watch your business struggle to profit? Keep on engaging passively, without defining a worthwhile outcome. The truth is there are two schools of thought on how to use social media to generate ROI:

  1. Social media is a better way to influence, not sell. Hence, we work to create “brand preference” through repetition (reach and frequency) and engagement.
  2. Social media is a better way to create and capture demand, leading to a sale. Logically, this involves using relevant calls to action and direct response tactics when it is appropriate.

Whether a customer’s need is in early stages (latent) or advanced, social media can help bring sales to fruition faster because it is inherently interactive. The trick is to avoid wasting time influencing people (in hopes of earning purchases) and begin designing to sell.

For instance, ask yourself, “Are we developing ways to help customers’ understand their problems, goals or needs more clearly?” Take this simple step to assess your own perspective. Continue to explore your own, personal context by recalling a time in your life when you became more clear on what it is you really needed after doing some research. Consider how you suddenly felt better equipped to navigate toward answers, products, and services that met your needs. This is how social media can shine for your business.

The Solution is Simple: Sell

Executive leaders say marketers over-focus on the latest trends, “because they believe they represent the new marketing frontiers. However, they can rarely demonstrate how these trends will help them generate more business for the company. Marketers state their top marketing challenge is “acquiring a large number of new customers.” Next is “increasing retention rates and revenues from current customers,” followed by “increasing the quality and quantity of leads for field sales forces.”

If these are the challenges, then what are the goals? More importantly what does this say about fixing the problem?

Want to stand out from this crowd and demonstrate tangible ROI? Get back to basics. Sell!

Get Started Today

Here is a simple technique to create social ROI:

  1. Defining sales as the goal, not engagement
  2. Earning insights on customers’ pains or goals using tools like Facebook and blogs
  3. Answering very basic, common questions in ways that drive more discussion about that pain or goal to reveal and sometimes nurture purchase intent.

Remember: when customers understand their problems more clearly, they’re more equipped (and willing) to be gently escorted toward the answers they need—your products and services. They’re more prone to see a purchase as a pain reliever or means to achieve a goal.

“Our approach to getting going—attracting local customers and netting leads with our blog—was simple,” says River Pools and Spas chief marketer, Marcus Sheridan, who says this is a great way to get started right now.

“We’re successful at generating leads because we wrote down every question that’s ever been asked to us by customers. We didn’t care how generic or broad the questions were. These quickly became the titles of blog posts that continue to pay sales dividends over time when matched with calls to action for tools that solve even more problems.” Sheridan, like others using this technique, is leveraging how customers use search engines in early buying stages.

Join the Social Media Evolution

“It’s all about the relationship.” Phooey. It has always been about the relationship, trust (“social currency”), and listening. These concepts aren’t new. Let’s stop pretending that they are and earn the respect of CEOs again.

Yes, the reason most businesses aren’t achieving sales with social media has a lot to do with all the hype. Most of us are reacting to social media, getting sidetracked by the excitement of a false revolution rather than focusing on evolution.

The rush to “just do” social media has served to redefine our goals away from sales and toward tactics like retweets, friends, fans, and likes. I say false revolution because I see so few examples of social-media-revolutionized businesses and because those who are innovating and thriving are evolving, not reinventing.

Have you designed your 2012 social media strategy to sell by focusing on translating customers’ needs into problems they need to have solved? If so, when giving solutions, do you compel customers to take action in ways that give insight and allow you to nurture need to fruition?

Why Do Users Become Disengaged With Your Email [Infographic]

After visiting your website, making a purchase, or stumbling across your company’s blog, a customer has signed up to receive email from you. For a marketer, this is the most fragile, difficult relationship to maintain: email engagement. One wrong step can end in tragedy with your electronic correspondence in the spam folder. Look at this infographic below to find out how to avoid this tragic fate when sending your emails to the masses.

 

Created by Litmus

How are you using email?

Show me the MONEY

If You Build It, Will They Come?
It is hard work as of late, convincing individuals that blogging needs to be part of their digital personal brand strategy.
Especially those that have amassed valuable knowledge over the years and even those with great ideas and opinions.
Some tend to believe that all they need to have is a static presence, say hello on Twitter or Facebook once in awhile, occasionally add connections to their network and they are set to attract clients.
The “build it and they will come,” theory.
Lets be honest, this method doesn’t work and those that are venturing into this arena can back me up.  There is no “one size fits all,” path to success.
It’s about creating relationships and you have to drive traffic. BUT it is not only traffic that is important. Unlike traditional media where today’s news is tomorrows fish and chip wrapper, the world of the Internet has staying power. So every entry into the online world leaves a digital footprint about you that can be found.
Magnetism  & Four-Letter Words
Streetwise professionals would probably also agree that publishing blog articles is like magnetising your target audience to you.  When the blog is quiet, the traffic to your blog slows or stops.
Lets take a look at some benefits:
•    Gives the writer credibility.
•    Focuses on the author’s ideas and expertise.
•    Establishes credibility in the author’s niche.
•    Attracts the reader to the author & the author’s additional content.

How awesome, right?
Who wouldn’t want that?
Ever met a salesperson that didn’t like the spotlight or to talk more about themselves?
Even so, when I say the word, “blog,”  it’s like I’ve said a four-letter word.
BLOG.

The definition of this word has also changed; with the advent of 140 character micro-blogs i.e. Twitter, the use of video blogs i.e. YouTube, picture blogs i.e. Flickr. Penning a few words can lead to engagement however the richer the content the richer the engagement.
Walking the talk
So, for some time, I’ve been pondering how I could get more people interested in blogging.  A little more exciting…more “sexy,” if you will.
It would have to be, or I’d lose my audience.
In this case:

•    Executives.
•    SME’s
•    Sales Professionals.

Individuals, that clients will make decisions about, in 2012 and future.
These days, the Internet is a haven of nifty new media.  A place where we read, play games, buy, sell, trade, socialise, and more…
Building a boat
Back to my challenge – To making blogging more attractive and enticing.  As a parent, my instincts are to put a fun slant on it.
Much like how we convince our children to take their medicine with the song, “A spoon full of sugar.”  Or inspire others to remember something with a groovy acronym.
Finding the Hot Button
So, playing to what gets people enthused I realised this is the sweet spot…the hot button.  I should find a way for them to get just as excited about their blog as they might be about “MONEY“.
The acronym…
M – More
O – Opportunity
N – Needs
E – Engagement
from
Y – You
MONEY
More Opportunity Needs Engagement from You
Oh yes, Show me the money!
What sales person wouldn’t get excited about that?  Information about themselves – about their purpose – rippling across the Internet where their target audience is hanging out!
Can you imagine what could happen with this slightly changed perspective?

So…
Pen is mightier than the sword


The 2015 roadmap will be tough.  Battles between competitors are intense, at a time when our clients need answers and solutions.
Dell are changing customer engagement with mighty mileage from social media.  From a marketing, brand and personal standpoint, a blog should be the hub of your social media and digital presence.
Technology is already changing who wins and how.
Employees  – regardless of time served, status, or experience – NEED to stop snarling their nose at penning a few words once in awhile, and start realising the benefits.
For them, and their clients.


MONEY
More Opportunity Needs Engagement from You