Indispensable small business owners—those who seek an alternative and innovative path, method, or strategy to grow—have learned to tap the power of social networks, but sadly, many owners still see social media channels and networks as a pointless place for them and their sales teams to focus.
And I get it.
There’s been too many so called social media experts who don’t know the foundational principles of marketing and selling.
This has created a situation, where many small business owners are left confused and not fully understanding the power of social networks in the selling process.
Here are two important reasons why small business owners must have a social selling strategy:
- Today’s qualified prospect is often far easier to find and reach using social channels.
- Today’s qualified prospect often shares invaluable buying signals and data via social channels.
It’s not who you know, it’s what you know about who you know.
One of my first business opportunities was an independent sales associate for an MLM and I recall my first sales mentors, coaching me on the ways to scan a prospect’s office or home for clues to information that might provide conversation starters and common ground. Things like diplomas, photos and awards were data points for relationship building.
Today this data, as well as information about buying patterns, challenges, company culture and news that may impact purchasing needs, is often shared freely in social networks.
There’s a famous saying that’s often applied to the world of business – It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The influx of social behavior in the sales environment has transformed this equation to – It’s not who you know, it’s what you know about who you know.
And it’s never been easier to know a great deal more about whom you know.
While the process of sales may always involve face-to-face education and persuasion, many elements of prospecting, relationship building and adding value can be greatly aided through the consistent use of social media.
Let’s start by understanding the differences in these networks and let that help us know where to focus for social selling.
Massively popular but highly personal. Typically used for family and friends. Business owners should generally not try to friend a company executive as it would be viewed as too intrusive and too personal. It is important to pay attention to what your prospect companies are doing on their corporate Facebook page.
Hugely important because Twitter is about people and ideas. Though the ideas aren’t often explicitly written in those 140 characters, the links to blogs and articles of interest are tremendously valuable to seeing what those executives view as important.
LinkedIn is incredibly useful to learn about executives, find mid-level influencers and gain introductions. In addition, LinkedIn Groups are great places to keep up to date with industry developments and hear what people in your space are saying about your company and competitors. You need to establish yourself as a credible expert on LinkedIn.
There is a passionate and loyal group of users on Google+ and many are business executives. You will find some key people here that aren’t active on other networks. Google+ is the “social layer” that ties all of Google’s services together, including Youtube, so its importance will only grow over time.
YouTube is one of the largest social networks and the importance of videos in marketing, support and education continues to grow. However, you won’t find many executives providing a lot of useful insights here. Like Facebook, it’s important to pay attention to what your prospect companies are doing on their corporate YouTube page.
8 Steps To The Must-Have Social Selling Strategy For Small Business Owners
1. Prospect List. Write down your prospect list
2. Prospect Indentifiers. Write down your prospect descriptors (title, specialty)
3. Find Prospects. Use search.Twitter.com, Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook to find their accounts or company accounts.
4. List Your Prospects. Create a private list using your CRM tool.
5. Use Hootsuite To Organize The Conversation. Add your private list on Hootsuite to follow the conversation
6. Engage With Your Prospects. Begin to RT, Reply/Mention, Like and Favorite their status updates, discussions, and articles.
7. Continue To Engage Some More.
8. Direct Message Them. After a while, send a DM with more ‘private’ talk, or, sit back and wait for a DM from them and let them close you for an appointment.
About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the marketing consultant to call when you want SALES … not just words.. He is also an advisor and featured marketing contributor to American Express Open Forum and has been named a marketing thought leader for small businesses.