Consumers are skeptical by nature. They understand that businesses are selling for themselves and, in turn, can't always be taken on their word. That's why word-of-mouth and recommendations from prospects' networks are so valuable — and it serves companies to know how to tap into those.
That process — capitalizing on consumer trust — is the basis of something known as peer-to-peer selling. Here, we'll explore that concept a bit further, touch on why it's so important, and review some ways you can set up a successful peer-to-peer selling strategy of your own.
What is peer-to-peer selling?
Peer-to-peer (P2P) selling is the practice of leveraging brand advocates as an engine for sales. It rests on the idea that satisfied customers are willing to share their positive experiences with your business with their peers — projecting the voice of the customer and enabling sales through word-of-mouth.
A successful P2P selling strategy can be a massive asset to any business looking to expand its reach and influence — often without a sizable financial commitment. Your customers can be as effective a sales resource as virtually any other.
Sales is, in large part, the process of cultivating and capitalizing on prospects' trust. One way or another, every sales effort is rooted in establishing credibility — that premise is what makes peer-to-peer selling as important and effective as it is.
Why is peer-to-peer selling important?
People tend to trust real customers more than businesses — they're more receptive to what their friends, family, broader personal network, and similar consumers have to say. In most cases, a prospect's peers have less of an agenda or incentive to speak highly of a company than the company itself.
In turn, they come across as more objective and trustworthy. That's where peer-to-peer selling's value lies. The more customers you can get to personally and enthusiastically vouch for your product, the more prospects you can reach with legitimate clout behind your messaging.
This particular brand of sales rests on how well you can develop a reputation as a helpful, well-intentioned, compassionate organization — let's take a look at some ways you can get there.
How You Can Yourself Up for Successful Peer-to-Peer Selling
Have a robust, active social media presence.
Successful P2P selling is a byproduct of making your brand seem approachable, engaging, and authentic. One of the better ways to get there is to be active on social media. And you can take a lot of roads to make that happen.
Consistently posting high-quality content relevant to your space — whether it be original or links to pieces from industry peers — can help you establish yourself as an authority in your space and connect with potential customers.
You should also comment on followers' posts and engage with them in positive, helpful, fun conversations on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. If you can leverage your social media presence to build that kind of trust, you'll set yourself up to consistently conduct successful P2P selling efforts.
Be receptive and responsive to online reviews.
In a similar vein to the point above, you can help cultivate an approachable, authentic reputation online by responding and constructively reacting to online reviews — whether they be good or less than stellar.
Successful P2P selling requires a compassionate, human element — ;one way to create and project that element is to show prospects how well you can take and act on customer feedback. Addressing your online reviews with patience, enthusiasm, and empathy is one of the more straightforward ways to do that.
Ask for and display customer testimonials.
As I mentioned earlier, trust is the basis for any effective P2P selling efforts. And consumers are much more inclined to trust their fellow consumers — who act without incentive or agenda — than they are to take your business on its word.
If you have satisfied customers, do what you can to ask for and project their positive experiences with your offering or company itself. In doing so, you can boost your reputation and generate interest from prospects who rely on their peers for cues on brand integrity.
Participate in online forums.
If you want to project a constructive, approachable, helpful image that can serve as the basis for effective P2P sales efforts, you're going to need to reach your base where they are. There's a good chance you have an active community of industry-enthusiasts participating in relevant online forums.
If you can find some of those locations online, contribute to the discussion. Make your company known as a valuable resource for answering potential customers' questions and concerns. Establish yourself as a reliable, interested authority online, and you'll put yourself in an excellent position to further bolster your P2P selling efforts.
At the end of the day, peer-to-peer selling is about framing your business as an organization that solves more than it sells. In a lot of ways, you need to cast your company as a consumer peer in itself. That means taking the time to actively engage with your prospects, help allay their needs and concerns, and demonstrate that your business is worth talking up.