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Social Media Selling: Know me, like me, trust me.


If you don’t have a strategy in place for selling through social media– evolve or watch your business die a slow death.


In my recent survey, only 25% of respondents said social media was an effective tool for growing their business. The majority (55%) stated that is was “important but not critical”. Seemingly, few have a strategy in place for using this channel effectively for growing their business.


Marketing and selling successfully through social media channels requires a strategy if you are to get people to know you, like you and trust you and ultimately buy from you. If you don’t have a strategy in place for using this channel– evolve or watch your business die a slow death. This is true for every business large and small selling products or services.


Randomly throwing stuff out into the goo of the web is not a strategy– but that’s exactly what most early-stage entrepreneurs and solo professionals do.


Marketing and sales through social media channels has never been easier or more complex.  Easier because social media platforms are available for free for everyone to broadcast non-stop messages of all kinds. More complex because audiences are fragmented, with shorter attention spans and the web is vast sea of static noise.


I’ll shed a little light on how best to build your strategy for social selling so you can expand your influence in the marketplace. A Social Selling Strategy requires these essential components before prospects will buy from you:


Awareness (know me)


Contribution (like me)


Transparency (trust me)


Awareness

Obviously if nobody knows about you… enough said.  But you don’t need everybody to know about you–only ”some people” (aka your target customer).  To build awareness through social selling, you will have to focus on serving a specific target of high value customers.  And once you’ve determined who these people are, you’ll need to hang out and be present in the online places where these people go for insight and inspiration.


Unfortunately it’s not enough for these high value customers to “know” you exist. They have to “care” you exist.  For them to care about you (your brand/business), you’re going to have to represent something they highly value and can’t easily get from others. Put another way–they have to need you and like you.


What idea of value do you (your brand/business) represent to your target customer that is not in abundant supply from others?


Let your answer to this question guide and inform what relevant value you bring to the party and how you determine what the “quality of your presence” will be in social media channels for your value to resonate. People always do business with people they know and like.


Contribution

We now live in the age of the customer. Buyers now rule the world, not the seller. Today, the buying process begins long before a salesperson gets called.  Buyers are no longer turning to salespeople for information on products and services.


Buyers are seeking that knowledge from influencers online. Buyers no longer care about your marketing messages or trust your sales pitch. They trust an objective third party (think Angie’s List ) point of view. What customers learn from influential online resources determines who they will buy from.


Social selling requires you be an influencer. To influence you will have to contribute and share your expertise freely to help and serve customers be more successful in obtaining their desired outcomes. Your marketing must help not hype–serving not selling.


You must have a content marketing strategy based on contribution and shared values–not non-stop promotions and useless postings of dog pictures and over-used quotes from dead people.


What pain or gain are your high value prospective customers concerned with. How will your knowledge, insight and expertise resonate and help them be successful?


Your answer to this question will guide and inform what content you will share that will endear you to your customers and enable you to be an influencer. Put another way, you must be perceived as a value creator rather than an order-taker. People always buy from people they like and trust.


Transparency

To be successful at social selling people have to trust you (your brand/business). You must substantiate your value with credible proof in the marketplace that your value proposition delivers on its promise. Buyers now have a voice and a choice–and in commoditized, price driven business categories, all the power in the buying cycle.


Rather than the “always be closing” quota driven mentality of old school selling, the social web enables you to “always be connecting”. Connecting with other like- minded colleagues, partners, thought leaders and prospective clients. Today everyone has a circle of influence–a group of people in their close network with whom they are highly trusted. I’ve heard that we all have 52 people on average with which we are highly influential.


Think about the exponential power that brings to your refer-ability.  The more people you connect with and who value and share your stuff, the more influence you will have in the marketplace. The more influence you have, the more clients and customers will seek you out. Make no mistake they will find you (for good or ill) online.


What credible proof do you have that will enable prospective customers to trust you deliver on your promise?


Your answer to this question will drive your entire social selling strategy. You (your brand/business) must become an influential value-creator for your customers and clients. To build this level of trust, you’ll need to create and share content that helps people be successful first. A good rule of thumb to follow will mandate your content should be roughly 80% helpful and 20% promotional.


Finally, Facebook is not face time.

Remember that real face-to-face interactions with customers must also be a component of your social media selling strategies. If you have the right social selling strategy, your face time with prospective customers will be much more rewarding and you will close significantly more business.


When you (your brand/business) represents a highly valued outcome target prospects know, care about and trust, your marketing and sales results will take a quantum leap forward.

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