“Social Salespeople listen before engaging. Their goal is to help to solve problems rather than pitching what they have to sell.” – Barbara Giamanco
Over the last few weeks I have been doing some research about social selling best practices. I’ve participated in some really informative twitter chats and have been involved in some great conversations. I’ve observed that social listening offers salespeople opportunities to engage with prospects to qualify them as viable sales opportunities. Social listening (monitoring and participating on social channels) is all about identifying and evaluating what people are saying about a company, a salesperson, a brand, a product, or a service over social media channels.
So, how does social listening support salespeople?
Spotting Buying Signals
Let´s think about prospecting for potential customers — a key task for a successful salesperson. The traditional way to prospect is to find out what products or services people are using that are similar to yours. Do they appear to be pleased, or does it look like they might be ripe for a change? Can you spot buying signals on social media? It’s time to learn how.
The Prospect Makes the Rules
These traditional activities still radiate from a salesperson, but now social channels can assist. Anywhere your prospects have a footprint on social media is a place to prospect. But here’s what’s different — in today´s social world the process for prospecting has changed. A salesperson doesn’t qualify a prospect on social. Rather, the prospect or buyer qualifies the salesperson. Nowadays, the customer makes the rules!
The Research Phase
Think about the first step a potential customer takes if they want to know more about your products or services. That’s right — they go to the Internet. Prospects are currently using social networks to research their purchases. This means that in today´s market, buyers know a lot about your product or service before they contact you.
The Value of a Personal Brand
Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter are made for networking. So it’s your job to ensure that the buyer can find you. As a sales professional your role is to be actively engaging on social media. Being active means to grow your personal brand by connecting with people you want to know and sharing some useful content.
Active Listening Will Yield Valuable Insights
Take time to understand these elusive prospects! What are their pains? Their needs? How can your product or service help them? And here is where the magic of “(social) listening” comes in. The principle is to listen to social conversations with a specific purpose. Through “listening,” you have the opportunity not only to understand real conversations, but to also learn how prospects are thinking and acting. Start a listening program so that the prospect can find you and ask questions you can answer. The prospect will get in touch with you when the time is right. It’s good to establish yourself as a reliable source of expertise.
Social Listening Builds Long-Term Relationships
To become an effective social listener, you need to regularly participate in conversations and start a dialog with people you want to know. The key is to build quality relationships. Customers buy from people they like. So, relationships are based on trust and value…and trust building takes time. Salespeople have to concentrate on providing value outside of the sale. The focus is on conversations and, of course, content. To provide value during conversations, be authentic and help prospects to solve problems by letting them know your expertise.
Work With the Trend
Prospecting has changed and you need to go with this powerful trend. Be open and recognize the opportunities — social listening is the most important way to show prospects that you´re interested in understanding their needs and problems — that they’re important to you. Social listening doesn´t ensure instant success, though. Don’t fall into the mindset that adding social activities to your workflow has a short-term benefit. This is a different kind of investment! Social listening and relationship building take time and the results don’t show up immediately.
So, in terms of social listening, don´t think only in numbers. Think social because it will yield great results in the long term!
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- Visualizing the Social Experience By the Numbers