Tips for Social Media Marketing
Sales people know that social media significantly influences buyer behavior, but they’re still challenged with how to integrate social media into their sales strategy. To connect intelligently with buyers, sales professionals must keep up with and evolve along with their consumers. Here’s how.
Establishing and maintaining strong relationships with customers is the core of selling. “It’s really just translating existing best practices into a different format,” says Peter Strid, vice president of sales for PeopleLinx, a company that trains sales teams on how to incorporate social media into their process and metrics.
Committing to Social Media Marketing
In order to drive a social selling culture in your company, Strid says that you have to make it simple and build a strategy into current workflow. Some great details on reaching a larger audience can be found in our Cross-Promotion Tips piece which discusses how to engage other businesses with Social Media.
Here are five tips to get your sales team on board with social selling, which will help expand their relationships and influence.
Educate: Social Media Is Your Billboard
A number of years ago, you might have had an intern control your social media channels, but Strid says that’s no longer a viable solution. “Social is your biggest billboard and should be treated as such,” he says. “Organizations must give their employees the skill set and parameters so that they understand how to promote the brand correctly and how to promote themselves the right way.”
For example, in your company’s social media guide you might tell employees that company-related social media accounts should be kept separate from personal accounts. Or if they publish content afterhours that involves work or subjects associated with the company, they should include a disclaimer noting that the posts are their own and do not represent the company’s opinion or position.
Focus: Aiming Your Social Media Marketing Plan
Each marketing effort should be results-driven, with the goal of increasing the footprint of your brand and eventually finding new clients. Finding ways to engage folks on social media is outlined in an informative piece on promotions, giveaways, sweepstakes which can open up opportunities for sharing among friends. But remember to stay aligned with your current business model, even though you’re exploring new ground.
As a busy sales professional, you might be thinking, “How do I layer this process into my workflow?” Social selling doesn’t mean signing up for every social network. To be successful with prospecting, monitoring conversations, interacting with customers or gathering intelligence, simply go where your audience is.
“Find the right network for you and focus on those [platforms],” Strid says. Ask your social media team to share their curated and optimized posts with your sales team. That way, sales staff can choose which posts they want to share with their networks instead of having to craft them on their own. Also, encourage team members to use marketing automation tools and schedule content to post for the next week or so.
“One way to help people embrace social media as part of their strategy is to highlight success stories,” says Strid. “When people know that the best salesperson on their team closed a deal because of social actions…he/she will be more likely to follow along.”
Own It: Stay Ahead of Your Social Media Profile
When using social media, the same rules apply as in any face-to-face interaction. Appearances can be everything. Strid says that your sales reps should concentrate on the three basic fundamentals of social media: profile, productivity and engagement.
“Typically, if I Google someone, the first thing that comes up is their LinkedIn profile,” he says. “LinkedIn is extremely well indexed and that’s the reality today.” Your profile on any social media site should reflect your personality, your business, and your product in a natural, professional light. You need to present a public image that engages would-be buyers.
Execute: Share Strategically on Social Media
Are you engaging? Are you sharing content that’s relevant? Are you over sharing or under sharing? What type of content are you sharing?
Strid says the rule of thumb is to post five things about your industry to prove that you’re up to date on trends and thought leadership; three pieces of content that may be relevant to your business and how you address the needs of that market and finally, two pieces of content that are fun, lighter, and can get some attention. “If you only share content about your organization or yourself, you’re a commercial and that turns people off,” he says.
Listen: Steer the Conversation with Careful Commenting
Are you following your prospects, clients, referrals and business relationships on Twitter so that you understand their problems, interests and purchasing needs? Are you selling with insight? Do you understand the needs of that individual before you begin a conversation with them?
As much as you should be sharing content, you also need to listen to the market. Buyers are 60 percent of the way down the decision making process before they ever even contact a salesperson. “They’ve already made up their mind so you better be a part of that conversation. What a better way to do that than through social,” Strid says.
“Forward-thinking companies are leading the pack and some of the older industries and older brands are slowly starting to catch on to that,” says Strid. Create a strong profile, choose the right networks to connect with would-be buyers, and keep it simple with the 5-3-2 rule. “The sales staff just needs to adjust and a smart, forward-thinking enterprise needs to arm them to become more effective.”
Deciding how to delegate resources and aim cash toward online marketing, especially social media marketing, can be a tricky prospect. For more insights into finding money for advertising, take a look at our article on strategic spending for social media marketing, it’s chock full of great ideas.