Does this mean conducting business transactions by relating to people where buyers enjoy communicating during the process? This is a sales concept that has worked throughout generations and is still working, but the fielding play has changed. Enter social media.
According to HubSpot, “social selling is when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy”.
It’s all about being human. Social media allows the selling of products to happen in a personable way. This involves meeting prospects on their turf, speaking in conversational language, and providing solutions in an unobtrusive matter.
The interactive conversations that happen in social media groups, blogs, and tweets give customers proactive means to assess buying decisions. Social media has added a level of empowerment where customers no longer have to be formally pushed toward a certain product or service. Rather, customers have the power to research products or services on their own and discover what others are saying about the brand.
Does this mean that a salesforce can sit back and wait for customer to come to them? The simple answer is no. Traditional selling is just being supplemented because customer relations has changed a bit. The new rules of the communication game expect pieces of content on social media channels that can speak to a company’s products or services around the clock, and around the globe. Therefore, social posts and tweets are now lead-generating nuggets. Essentially, social media is growing a company’s reach in a viral way and permitting customers to engage with them in an interactive dialogue. That online engagement gives life to simply another form of relationship building.
So, how does online engagement happen? It has a little something to do with building online credibility and worth. This happens by providing helpful and accurate information. Say, a person has read a consulting firm’s entertaining tale of how it saved a Fortune 500 company time and money. In reaction, the ideal would be for that reader to then inquire with the consulting firm to learn how they could receive that same treatment. Sounds like a fairy tale, but sometimes, it’s as simple as that if a consumer is at the end of the buying cycle and ready (budget in hand) to make a purchasing decision. In the long term, sharing valuable knowledge has the ability to elevate your brand to sit among thought leaders.
Marketo has created artistic infographics that depict how leads and storytelling can work together. In their “Use a Story Arc for Your Nurture Communications”, they explain the type of content that is most fitting for each stage of the buying cycle:
In Marketo’s complementing infographic, “Elements of a Good Lead Nurture Story”, they reiterate that promotional content needs to feel genuine while, at the same time, preserving a brand’s voice. As a personality is unique to each person, a brand voice should be unique to each organization:
As companies fill their social media channels with riveting narratives and trendsetting educational videos, it is important to ask if their metaphorical ocean is big enough as they cast their content nets. The answer is similar to the answer when you ask a five-year-old what size ice cream cone they would like: it could always be larger. This is where the cycle of social selling becomes complete. Salespeople are consistently gathering customer feedback and can provide insight to marketing departments in order to generate useful content. After marketing departments generate new content and deploy it on corporate social media channels, the salesforce can take one final step. Salespeople can share this same content with their own social media networks because they are the ideal brand advocates who already have customers’ attention.