“You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”
Whether you’re an avid social media user or simply check the box by having a profile on your favorite social channels, you’re visible.
Your friends and family have visibility into what you like, share, and comment on, and it’s no different for your current and prospective clients.
Social media is no longer just a place to connect with old friends and family. It has become a key platform and tool for businesses to engage with their target audience and reach more relevant customers.
An integral part of the sales process is getting to know your prospects and establishing relationships—and it turns out that social media can help you accomplish this quickly and easily.
Not only will it help you generate new leads, but it allows you to build deeper relationships with existing clients that drives them to purchase again and again.
When you’re in sales, your social media persona and presence influences your overall reputation, ultimately, swaying your prospect’s perception of you as well as their decision to work with you or not.
Connect with decision makers more effectively - 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions. (International Data Corporation)
Build better business relationships - 31% of B2B professionals said that social selling allowed them to build deeper relationships with their clients.(CSO Insights and Seismic)
Become a top-performing sales professional - 90% of top performing salespeople now use social media as part of their sales strategy. And sales reps with high social network activity achieve 45% more sales opportunities and are 51% more likely to hit their sales quotas.(LinkedIn)
Social selling is important to your success as a sales professional, but with the constant changes and additions to the social landscape it can be challenging to create a social persona that moves the needle on your sales performance.
To help you improve your social presence and persona as a sales professional, take these 5 things into consideration in the new year.
1. Be Authentic
Now, authentic is a word that everyone and their mothers are throwing around these days, but it’s not just a trend.
By definition, authenticity is being real, or genuine. This is definitely what you should be trying for on social.
Get honest and real about your product or service whenever you can. Go behind the scenes and humanize your brand.
If you sell a product, share stories about how you make it. Tell people where the materials come from, how you manufacture, or how you design the things you want them to buy.
If you’re a service, share the work that goes into creating your customer experience or the people behind the service. Who are they and what do they care about?
This also works on a personal level by sharing content you’ve created that includes thoughts, perspectives, or opinions of your own about an important industry trend or issue. Or maybe it’s a look into your day-to-day work experience and career journey.
Authenticity is about showing the real, down to earth side of yourself, your business, and your solutions.
While opening up in this way may leave you vulnerable to critic, it’s also what will encourage your audience and community of customers to view you as trustworthy, credible, and passionate.
As sales professionals, we spend hours of time and whole lot of effort trying to establish a certain level of trust. When you incorporate authenticity into your social selling persona, your prospects and customers view you as being sincere and honest. They believe you genuinely want to help them because you’re not focused on selling, you’re focused on helping.
2. Get Personal
To be clear, I’m not suggesting you share all of the nitty-gritty details of your personal life, but I am suggesting that you share some personal information as it relates to the solution you sell and the audience you’re going after.
Keep a balance between professional sharing and things that are interesting, useful, or humorous.
For example, perhaps you’ve been struggling with an issue at work and you want to ask for advice. Throw it out on social media.
While it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one experiencing a certain challenge, you’re very likely not the first and certainly not the last who will go through this challenge or try to solve a particular problem.
Or maybe you found something laugh-out-loud funny and want to share the fun with your followers. Do it! Humor is a great way to connect on a more personal level.
Your sense of humor is a part of who you are, so sharing what makes you laugh or puts a smile on your face can be a bonding experience between you and your prospects.
Using humor can also help you be perceived as less formal and more friendly or approachable. In sales, this is always a good thing because we want to ensure our prospects and customers want to talk to us and enjoy it.
3. Share Your Unique Insight
Don’t just be another person sharing the same content and adding noise to everyone’s newsfeed. Stand out by sharing your unique perspective and point-of-view.
Add a comment with your own thoughts about what you read or watched. Why should it matter to your audience? What do you want them to do with the information?
In the bookSteal like an Artist, author Austin Kleon explores the idea of juxtaposing different ideas together to create an entirely new idea.
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.”
- Jim Jarmusch
You can apply this idea to your social selling approach and persona by mixing and matching ideas from other industries that may or may not be relevant to your exact business, but the point is you can take an idea from another industry and make it your own by incorporating it into a new context or different application.
An example I often share from my own experience isincorporating IMPROV acting into sales training. While some people may not connect the dots between these two things, further explanation proves these two things are very much related.
IMPROV is all about the ability to think quickly and creatively on your feet. Sales requires much of the same abilities.
When you’re in a sales meeting, you need to actively listen and respond to what your prospect is saying or asking.
You may have walked into the meeting with a set of preconceived notions about what this prospect needs or wants, but then they say something that turns those ideas on its head and makes you switch gears completely. This ability to adjust and think creatively in the moment will allow you to drive the meeting in a different direction without panicking.
Another example might be if you’re in the manufacturing business.
Perhaps you would benefit from looking at the successes of a digital media company. What type of efficiencies exist? Are there ideas or principles that you can apply to your own business or the business of your clients?
Adding your own unique voice to an already crowded social landscape is not only challenging but can be frustrating if you’re not getting the attention or engagement you want.
Don’t be afraid to go outside of your own circle and comfort zone, you’ll be amazed at the fresh perspective you’ll gain.
Be unique by sharing insight, not just information.
This will not only help you stand out among your social network, it will help you establish yourself as a thought leader and subject matter expert that people want to do business with.
Omni-channel experience is a multi-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out.
As social media becomes a bigger influence on our lives and behaviors, sales professionals need to think more holistically when it comes to which platforms they use and how to engage with current and prospective customers.
In other words, you can’t think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc. as separate. You need to think about how you can integrate each platform into a comprehensive social media marketing strategy.
While each platform certainly has its similarities and differences, a consistent voice and style across each platform will help you build awareness among your target audience while being able to reach and engage with them on their favorite platform.
But how do you stay on top of it all? Luckily, there are tools for just this reason.
But sellers beware! Don’t become a robot who automates every comment, post, or “like.” Be yourself (refer back to #1 and #2 on this list) and remember that the purpose of social selling is to build relationships.
5. Be a Listener
To create a compelling social selling persona, you cannot simply share and interact, you must listen to what your audience is telling you.
What are they reacting to? Can you leverage it to increase engagement? Or to more effectively position your product, service, or solution?
It may sound crazy, but your customers and prospects are basically telling you exactly what they want, need or desire.
You have a plethora of information at your fingertips. You just have to stop and strategically listen. Utilize this free information to learn and discover, then implement what you learn to your sales strategy and communication efforts.
With the right tools (see #4), you can immediately know what’s being said, whether positive or negative, and then respond accordingly.
Social listening allows you to prioritize and evaluate feedback. It’s an opportunity to create new content based on what people are already searching for and engaging with. It also provides a valuable opportunity to learn what your intended audience is saying about you compared to your competitors.
Digital conversations about you, your company, and current trends in the industry are already happening. Why not use social media as a way of tapping into this wealth of knowledge?
But remember: listening isn’t just about gathering or tracking information, it’s about gaining real insights into what your customers and potential customers want from you, and how you can better address those needs.
Why It Matters
Generating new leads can be a struggle. Understanding how buyers make decisions is complicated (to say the least). And trying to combat the status quo can be exhausting.
It’s no secret. Selling in today’s world is becoming increasingly more complex and competitive.
Given these challenges, carefully considering your social presence can help you sell more effectively:
Establishing a professional brand
Positioning subject matter expertise and thought leadership
Finding and targeting the right prospects
Engaging with those prospects through valuable insights
Taking the time to build new relationships and develop existing ones
Social media is becoming a foundation for interactions between buyers and sellers. But remember that the goal of social selling is not to get a sale on first contact; It exists to build meaningful relationships.
To do that, you have to consider the impression you’re making on your professional network and strive to be authentic, personal, and unique, while also being omnipresent across platforms and keeping an ear to the “social” ground for intel about your prospects, customers, industry trends, and competitors.
Building a compelling social persona and presence will help you gain influence, establish your credibility, sell ideas, attract customers, and ultimately increase revenue.