All selling is social selling, but it’s hard to get every customer on the phone. Besides, inundating others with emails isn’t the best idea if you want them to still like you at the end of the day. Social media is a pull communication, meaning that end users can read the message whenever they choose. This lends itself well to the sales process because social media lets us reach out to whomever we choose at our leisure. In turn, the people we reach out to can respond to us at their leisure, meaning no more calls at dinner time and no more crowded inbox.
To reap the many benefits of a well-designed social selling program, you’ll need to do some serious planning. Here is a list of the seven considerations you must take while designing your social selling program.
1. Your salespeople aren’t brand managers.
A company’s sales force may not be the most creative, and they certainly aren’t brand managers. It’s important to give them a leg up and teach them how to craft their own personal brand — not just what they want to say, but also the look and feel of their social media profiles. It’s also a great idea to help them stay consistent but platform relevant.
2. Not everyone has an internal appropriate-o-meter.
Everyone knows that person who often says inappropriate things or asks inappropriate questions. Some people were born without an "appropriate-o-meter,” which means they have no internal measure of impropriety. People with this rare but crippling affliction often tell jokes at funerals or tell people that their baby is ugly. Don’t let anyone go out into the social media sphere without training them on what is and isn’t appropriate to discuss. Creating reference pages for delicate situations can help you avoid social media meltdowns.
3. Social selling isn’t a replacement for other sales activities.
Social selling isn’t the end all, be all of selling. It isn’t meant to replace email. It is merely another channel to keep in contact with your clients. There is nothing better than having a pleasant, enriching or helpful phone call with your clients — except perhaps a face-to-face meeting. Don’t let social media replace any of these activities. Let it be a place to exchange thoughts and share resources with your clients.
4. Don’t forget to communicate the ideal personal/professional mix to your employees.
Social selling works best when your sales people come off as human. You don’t want them to tweet, pin, blog and post only about your company and how wonderful it is. Let them retain their personalities, but set strict standards about the mix they should use with their company social selling account. A good mix is usually the classic 80/20: 80 percent professional (not just related to your company) and 20 percent personal (not pictures of them downing pints at the local pub). Encourage them to have a personal account on the side, but stand firm on the guideline that they should have more professional than personal content on the account that they will use for social selling activities.
5. Salespeople are relationship builders by nature. Let them build.
At least great ones are. Let your sales team work on building relationships without too many guidelines on what they can and cannot discuss with clients. If they want to talk about that time they saw Hulk Hogan at a grocery store, then so be it. You never know what quirky discussion is going to build rapport with a potential or current client.
6. Let your employees select their own platforms.
Aside from LinkedIn being mandatory, I would strongly discourage you from laying down guidelines on what platforms your team should leverage. Some of your news junkie sales team members might love the fast pace of Twitter, and others might enjoy being filmmakers and coming up with their own YouTube help videos or tutorials. Let each person explore the platforms they want to tackle with their social selling.
7. Don’t forget about CRM.
Ah, CRM software — how we love to hate you. On one hand you are full of all of the client details we’ve recorded over the years, and on the other hand, your user experience is misleadingly counter-intuitive. Love it or hate it, all of your team’s social selling breakthroughs should be noted in CRM. I wouldn’t advise making a notation every time you favorite a client’s post, but if a client reaches out with interest about the white paper you posted regarding your new content marketing offering, you might want to jot that down. Social media is just another channel. Make sure you are noting your efforts and benefitting from them.
Originally published Jan 14, 2014 12:00:24 AM, updated July 28 2017