Biz Tips: Don’t fear the sale

Biz Tips: Don’t fear the sale

GROWTH:

Don’t fear the sale

At the end of the day you have a business to run

Ben M. Roberts tracks his social selling index on LinkedIn.

Social selling can be a touchy subject. For starters, the online platforms are called social media, not sales media. Many aspiring entrepreneurs have jumped online intent on doing business first before creating and honing relationships.

Ben M. Roberts sympathizes with business owners new to the social jungle and has mapped the path to success.

He heads marketing at Talkative, a firm that helps companies communicate with customers through their website or app. Roberts also hosts The Marketing Buzzword Podcast and is a digital marketing strategist and speaker.

He believes in online reviews and customer service, which blended well in a discussion about social selling with social media consultant Madalyn Sklar.

“Social selling is the art and science of being able to sell your goods and services to people on social media without actually selling them,” Roberts said.

“Social selling looks at you sharing your knowledge and expertise in a way that helps people to ‘like, know and trust’ you,” he said. “Then, when they look for your goods or services, you are the first person they think of.”

There are similarities between selling on social media and social selling.

“They both result in sales,” Roberts said. “If a business or person isn’t wanting to make a sale at some point, then it is neither social selling or selling on social media. It’s networking.

“Both social selling and selling on social media are people driven,” he said. “They require some sort of relationship to be formed. The type of relationship can be different, but without that relationship, sales won’t happen.”

Disruptive siblings

The distinctions between the two approaches are subtle.

“They are both disruptive in different ways,” Roberts said. “Both aim to grab people’s attention and make you want to read more, find out more or buy more. One is just more relationship and conversation based.

“Selling on social media is more direct,” he said. “Each post should have a direct tangible outcome of ‘X’ sales or leads. Social selling is more about the engagement, conversations and discussions with a longer-term mindset.”

A key difference is the type of relations.

“Social Selling looks to build more of a longer-term relationship, which involves multiple touch points over time,” Roberts said. “Selling on social media looks at shorter-term tactics to grab attention and quickly turn views into leads.

“At the crux of it, they are two completely different processes,” he said. “The results may be the same, but they are entirely different ways of doing business. One is transactional, the other is conversational.”

Social selling is about relationship building. Anticipating business transactions can be futile.

Predicting sales is like predicting going viral. If you could do that, everyone would do it. The best results come from perseverance, hoping for the when timing and circumstances fit for seller and buyer alike. At best, forecasting sales is tough.

“It’s less measurable in the sense that — if you are cold outreaching — you can build a rough idea of say 40 outreaches may equal one lead,” Roberts said. “That’s tangible. It can be much harder to directly gauge the impact of a single conversation.

“I love looking at LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index, which they measure using four pillars,” he said. “It gives you two different ranks: one for your industry and one for your network.”

Meeting needs

Great content greatly connects with your audience. That means you’ve done the footwork for engagement and social listening to learn your audience’s issues and pain points. Then you can create content that generally meets their needs.

“It all comes from ‘How well do you really know your audience and your industry?’” Roberts said. He gave these keys to great content:

  • Helpful. It has to be helpful. It has to offer value, be it unique insights, hints, tips or tricks. Always think ‘What Is It Going To Do For Them?’ — or WIIGTDFT for short.
  • Giving. Offer advice, help and guidance within the social media platforms. Don’t send potential customers away. It’s a mistake I’ve made before. The more value you can offer in the moment, the better.
  • Personality. Remember that people buy from people. Your personality is one of your greatest assets. Make your content, fun, engaging and personable. That’ll keep people interested.

Marketers use relationship building to convert their online community into paying customers. Buying is based on emotion. You can’t have genuine emotion unless you’ve created a relationship. Relationships are the essential first step without which there is little chance to close sales.

These are Roberts’ keys to relationship building:

  • Personalization. People will always pay for a tailored and personalized package. It will help them know exactly what’s relevant for them. They also want your time. You are the valuable asset. That’s what they are paying for.
  • Resource. Become a wiki for your industry. By becoming the hub for all relevant content on your industry, you will stand out over and above your competitors and be seen as the experts. Knowledge sells.
  • Value. Focus on value and consistency over time. That equals authority and trust. Authority and trust plus need equals a sale.

Social selling emphasizes “social.” You can be social online and off. In fact, offline is where you close sales. With a social mindset, you’re prepared to follow through with potential customers whether your initial connection came in a chat or over the counter.

“You can — and should — take conversations into other more intimate or offline environments,” Roberts said. “Conferences and events are amazing for this.

“You can and should track your leads,” he said. “Even though it’s relationship based, social selling is still selling. Make sure you have a pipeline and content that helps move people toward a sale.”

Above all, keep your objective in mind.

“The goal is selling, but not every conversation should and has to equal a sale,” Roberts said. “Like out-of-business relationships, some work, others don’t. Sometimes you’ll seal the deal, others you won’t.

“Don’t fear the sale,” he said. “Your business won’t exist without a sale. If you have been adding value to someone’s social media experience for a long time, it’s OK to ask for a sale at some stage. We have businesses to run at the end of the day.”

Roberts and Sklar continued their social selling discussion on Facebook live.

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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