Sales is a social business, so it's only natural that sales people want to get on social media sites and start to network with prospects and customers in order to get information out there in the online world, generate leads, and nurture relationships. In fact, the vast majority of sales people who network on social media actually outsell those who don't. So, you shouldn't think of these platforms as a waste of time or try to ban them from the office-they're actually vital to the sales department.
However, there's a good way and a bad way to network on social media sites, so it's important that your employees understand the etiquette so they don't tarnish your company's name. Here's how sales people can effectively network on social media in order to increase company profits.
Positioning Themselves as Thought Leaders
One of the best business opportunities of social media is being able to position yourself as a thought leader. Sales people can provide access to videos, how-to guides, blog posts, and other resources that customers want and need in order to make informed decisions. When your sales people are sharing these valuable resources on social media platforms, they are building your brand by positioning themselves as experts in the industry. People remember your company-and your sales reps-when it's time to buy.
People share a lot of information on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ profiles as well as in posts and comments. A good sales person will absorb all this information while networking. You never know what additional knowledge can help you close a deal!
Because social media is a large network, sales people can often be connected to new leads through common friends or connections. This opens the doors of communication, especially in B2B selling. People are more likely to trust you if they know someone else who knows you personally or through business dealings. It's easier than cold calling, that's for sure!
Participating in Groups and Communities
It's easy to network when you join groups and communities related to your industry, products, or services. The conversations are already happening, so all your sales reps have to do is jump in and provide advice, ask or answer questions, and provide knowledge. However, it's important to participate here when you network, not sell. People are looking for conversations and advice, not a pushy sales person.
The very best part of social media for business is its ability to allow sales people to stay in contact with prospects and customers after a lead has been established or a product or service has already been sold. Simply adding connections and joining groups isn't networking-nurturing relationships is. Your sales people need to take the time and effort every day to interact with prospects make them feel needed, and provide them with the knowledge and information that they want. This step is vital for gaining a competitive edge.
Once you have successfully solidified your brand through thought leadership, participated in online communities, and nurtured relationships with prospects, you can now share solutions on social media. Here's when you can display the benefits of your company's products and services without annoying anyone online or pushing them away with your aggression. You've already engaged your leads-they now trust you-so you can begin the selling process at this point. It's very important not to get to this stage too early. Without the steps above it coming first, you can scare away leads.
Networking = Sales
As you can see, when sales people network properly on social media, they generate leads, position themselves as thought leaders, and build lasting relationship that can allow them to more easily sell products or services. It won't happen overnight-networking takes time and patience-but the effort put forth will eventually turn into a higher sell rate.