Learn More about Capitalizing on your Relationships to Improve Sales
Vaughan Business EXPO: Selling 3.0
The Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre (VBEC) invites you to participate in the 13th Annual Vaughan Business-to-Business EXPO: Selling 3.0 on Feb. 11 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This year, the EXPO highlights the importance of relationships in a sales strategy. With a focus on “return on relationships” rather than “return on investment,” businesses will hear from industry experts about how to use social selling effectively and efficiently.
A whole new era: social selling
A recent Hootsuite report found that more than 70 per cent of decision makers use social media to inform themselves prior to making a purchase. Traditional sales activities — such as cold calling, inbound lead generation and networking — are now enhanced with insights gathered from social media.
Social selling is about reaching your target audience at the right stage of the buying process with the right message through the right channels. Social media tools networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ can help you to identify potential prospects and gain intelligence into their needs and challenges. You can then leverage this knowledge to provide valuable insights that relate to customers’ needs. Social selling provides a better way to uncover and establish new opportunities, as well as nurture existing and developing business relationships.
The process: seven ways to increase sales through social media
Like anything, social selling requires the right kind of process, planning and dedication to ensure success. Here is the process most commonly used by today’s top-performing social sales reps to develop professional brands, engage target audiences and gain their trust and permission to sell to them.
1. Define your professional brand.
When developing your professional brand, you need to choose how you want to define yourself. Do you want to be seen as a sales rep, industry expert or something else? The answer to this question will help guide you in building your professional brand and help determine what channels to use to build your reputation.
2. Enhance or complete your social media profiles to support your desired professional brand.
Once you establish how you wish to be perceived by your peers and prospective customers, you need to position yourself accordingly through the various social media channels that are available. Here’s how you can get started creating or enhancing your social media profiles and advance the development of your professional brand:
Step one: clean up all of your existing social media profiles. Remove quotes, photos, videos and all other content that can hurt your business image.
Step two: update your LinkedIn profile and other social media profiles with content that will appeal to your target audience.
Step three: develop and/or share regular content over your social media channels, such as industry news, insightful articles, case studies and other content that is geared towards your target audience and engage them on their interests and common challenges.
3. Identify and zero in on the decision makers.
Like the general rule of prospecting, determine what level of decision maker you need to target and find them through the various social channels available. LinkedIn, for example, allows you to search for people by department, title, region, industry, company and more.
4. Build your social networks around strong prospects.
The best place to start is with people you already know socially and through past and current work experiences. Add these contacts to your LinkedIn network and Google+ circles, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. The world really is a tight-knit, well-connected place. Chances are someone you know today, or knew yesterday, will know someone who you want to sell to or work with.
5. Identify the social channels your audience is active on.
Understand where your prospective customers are regular contributors, where they go to search for information, share content and ideas, vent about their frustrations, and get help with their challenges. Then, be present on those channels. Join their online social circles and subscribe to the publications they’re receiving because chances are other influential people you want to target are already — or will soon be — followers on those channels, too. You want to be where they are and you want to be knowledgeable on the topics that interest them. This will help you become an even greater expert in the industry, especially with issues that matter to the people you’re selling to.
6. Learn about your prospects by observing their social media activities.
Social media provides a big advantage for sales reps: buyers are more upfront about their needs. Buyers are using social media to constantly send signals by posting comments, questions and sharing content. Sometimes status updates contain valuable information that sheds light into some of their most pressing challenges. Tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Google Alerts are examples of software that can help you monitor in real time what your prospects and customers are saying online, allowing you to respond in a timely manner.
7. Offer valuable and targeted insights to engage and impress your target audience.
Now it’s time to start offering insights. To build trust and establish yourself as an expert in your field you need to share valuable, insightful and timely content using your social media channels.
Mastering these seven steps will make it easier for you to create value and build trust in your company and your product, opening the door to engaging your customers in the sales cycle. A willingly engaged customer is a warm lead and more likely to buy form you than a cold customer.
Register now! I look forward to seeing you at the Vaughan Business Expo!
Vice-president of strategy and business development
ICM Consulting Corporation
Guest Speaker at the 13th annual Vaughan Business-to-Business Expo
Visit the City of Vaughan’s website at vaughan.ca.