Sales Tips: Socially-Focused Selling By Colleen Francis
Success in sales doesn’t just happen. It’s the product of a lot of hard work. However, this entails more than adopting time-honored ways of finding new prospects and closing more deals (although, to be clear, that’s still really important). You also need to take chances and try new things to connect with your audience, and that includes taking a close look at the growing range of socially-focused tools that are available out there these days.
Why is this so important? No matter what you sell, the direct audience for your product or service isn’t businesses, organizations or institutions. It’s people. So it’s worthwhile to take a minute and think about common characteristics that we all share.
We’re social creatures. Generations of scientific research tell us that human brains are uniquely hard-wired to share stories and interact with others. We’re also reciprocal. When we receive something from others, we tend to want to return the favor, and often we try to emulate that behavior on an ongoing basis. We also value authenticity. The conversations we value most are the ones where the talk is genuine and personal.
However, something new and very important has been slowly added to that mix. We’re well on our way to becoming a highly networked society. Today, we connect with and engage more people directly without the filtering function that traditional media used to perform. Things have changed. Today, no professional salesperson can afford to look as socially-based media as waste of time or as a nuisance. Instead, you need to embrace it and make it an integral part of the work.
Let’s have a look at five key characteristics of socially-focused selling. Each of these contains activities that you can adopt right away in your business to help you generate more leads, convert more prospects into sales and generate the kind of repeat business you need so that your sales record shines.
Think beyond social media…
Plenty of businesses have jumped on the social media bandwagon over the past few years. Some have been successful, but plenty have fallen short by assuming all they had to do was set up an account on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Socially-focused selling is about more than just social media. Go where you market gathers. Make it easy for them to connect directly with you. Be a resource they can count on.
That can include implementing live chat on your website, posting articles on your blog, commenting on the posts that others post elsewhere, create and distribute a company newsletter, making yourself available anywhere via Skype or FaceTime on your iPod or iPhone. At Engage Selling, we have found that the most successful companies are the ones that adopt this integrated approach to social selling, combining a mix of three or more elements I’ve mentioned to top-of-mind with clients… and without ever being labeled as a stalker.
More sales are won by those who refuse to give up early. Today, conversion rates are creeping up to 16 attempts per response, and closing rates are hovering around 2.6% from first contact to close. With numbers like that, you cannot afford to be anything but persistent. Be creative in your efforts to be social. Balance phone calls, emails, direct mail and face-to-face selling. Remember, the wider assortment of media you use, the more opportunities you have to reach out. Top-ranked sellers are reaching out to their clients three times per week without being considered as stalkers because they used multiple types of media…as opposed to, for example, phoning repeatedly, leaving the same voicemail message again and again.
Capitalize on social proof…
At Engage, we’ve found that sellers who use testimonials, case studies and references improved their closing ratios by 30%. I have three quick pieces of advice here. First, ask for testimonials at every opportunity. Second, guide the content of your testimonials to ensure they are compelling and credible. And third, keep your testimonials current. Update your testimonials monthly. There’s a lot more you can learn about how to capitalize on the social proof you generate through the power of word-of-mouth.
The companies with the best winning records in sales these days are the ones that have narrowed their focus to either specialize in a market or specialize in the delivery of a specific product or service. In doing so, they’ve become experts in their marketplace. When you’re an authority on a subject, prospects seek you out, prices are less of an issue and your margins remain high. Drop your poorest performing clients or products/services and make room for better quality and healthier profits. Identify your target market, the products that best serve that market, and create marketing programs to attract and retain targeted in your areas of focus.
We’ve noticed an interesting trend at Engage: among top performers who have joined our mastermind and coaching groups, there’s been a steady increase in those who have reported skyrocketing sales–from 30% to even 100% beyond target. Successful sellers are lifelong learners and are always trying something new to fine-tune their craft. Read, attend seminars, join coaching groups. Not every new thing you try is going to be successful. Test your efforts, evaluate regularly and make adjustments where needed.
There’s no denying that the market has changed significantly over the past several years. There’s no going back to the way things used to work. Embrace that fact. Capitalize on the golden opportunities that are available today via socially-focused selling and watch how quickly it puts you on the road to success.
Colleen Francis is the Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions, which delivers sales solutions that realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise the client’s bottom line. She can be reached at EngageSelling.com.
-what would you add to the ideas above? What are some places (online or offline) that you have found helpful in connecting with people in your market?