True story: I made an appointment for my cat at the local vet’s office. I had been told to show up at 8:00 a.m. and I was there, right on the dot.
The door was locked.
The sign said closed. It was raining, and I had never been there before. Unsure as to what to do, I saw someone at the desk and politely tapped the window. The receptionist gestured to me and frowned.
Five minutes later, she finally cracked the door open. No apology. No greeting. She then tersely told me to wait and stomped off to inform the vet his patient had arrived.
I quietly picked up my cat’s carrier and left. I found a new vet the very same day.
And then I wrote a review.
Social Selling: Why the Bad Gets Worse
You see, social Selling is a Two-Edged Sword. Every interaction you have from posting funny videos to responding to complaints is there for the entire world to see. Anything posted online becomes a sparkly vampire. It lives forever.
Put Me in Coach!
As the trend towards social selling grows, many companies just want to get into the game. They may or may not actually have a plan though. Social selling is tough, but it is not some esoteric science where you calculate the square root of the earth’s circumference, cross reference it to the number of migrating seagulls on the Eastern seaboard and then mix it up like an ancient alchemist.
Social selling means building brand awareness, by using a tailored, thoughtful and unique message aimed at creating and/or building your likeability. To do that, you have to know your audience and care about what they care about.
Research has revealed that people want to buy from people that are within their comfort zone. They want to know that someone knows you, has used you and that the people they trust like and trust you.
In fact, 64% of consumers stated that they bought a particular brand because the company shared their values and ideals. In other words, you have to be their cup of tea.
When you create likeability and trust, you are creating value for your audience. You are also connecting to people in direct way that moves them to act based on the level of involvement and risk associated with a given product.
What does that mean? In a nutshell, small cost and easy access means a small investment/risk. High dollar or more effort (looking, researching, financing), means that they need to trust you even more.
Risk and Reward
For instance, buying a bag of candy is a low risk/low involvement purchase. The customer sees it. They want it. They buy it without too much fuss. Big ticket items, on the other hand, represent things that people have to plan for, save for or evaluate.
This triggers a far different buying cycle/response and trust becomes even more crucial. Studies have shown that even if they don’t like you per se, they must trust you in order to purchase from you. Moreover, people want to buy from companies that they connect with.
The way that your prospects and customers perceive you is crucial. Creating a favorable market image in a noisy world is hard enough, but maintaining it thoughtfully, well that really is a tall order. Sending tweets, posting on Facebook and Google Plus may seem less than relevant compared to all of your other tasks. And, to make matters worse, sometimes it is downright difficult because of the nature of the product or service that you offer.
For example, let’s assume that you offer a roofing service. Roofing, in and of itself, does not scream, “Fun in the sun!” It is a less than sexy product, but it is also a big investment. In order to connect to your customers and stay relevant, your social media activity needs to be three things:
• Tailored to your audience- perhaps you could post something that is both trending and related. For example, DIY projects or home improvement.
• Sharable or at least enjoyable- Consider a mixture of content that is fun or informative. Think value creation. High quality content builds your reputation.
• Authentic- You have to walk the talk. Your interactions need to be both purposeful and planned. People want to know that you really stand for everything your tag line says you do.
At the end of the day it is all too easy to cannonball into the social media sales pool with nothing but your floaties on. The truth is that social media selling, like all selling, is built on trust. You need to think about how you want to be perceived, what sets you apart (your unique selling proposition) and how you will track and respond to your audience.
Sales success, whether digital, virtual or social, always depends on who you have at the wheel and what they are sharing. Make sure that your team knows their stuff.
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Jamie Crosbie President ProActivate, Inc. (We recruit winning teams.)