The Corona crisis brings many problems for entrepreneurs: Should we sell despite the crisis? Should we discount products or give them away for free? How can we sell despite the social distance? The article answers these questions and shows solutions to Social Selling.
But first two short answers. Yes, continue to sell, but differently: with social Selling. And: No, you shouldn’t discount your products or give them away for free. Otherwise, you will ruin your prices, which you cannot simply raise again without receiving customer complaints. However, you should use free gifts to generate leads in Social Selling.
Selling in the crisis
The economy and companies need you and your company more than ever. At least as long as you show up with valuable services that your customers need. Buying behavior has indeed changed. After the panicked hamster purchases at the beginning (toilet paper, hygiene, food), fewer products are now being bought in areas such as travel, events, or clothing.
But even in a crisis, we need services, products, and services. Despite the crisis, many people continue to shop at Amazon, Netflix, and Zalando. Since many offices are switching jobs to the home office, video and chat programs are more indispensable than ever for many. Microsoft speaks of 37 percent more users of the office communication software teams within a week. While there are layoffs and short-term payments in some industries, most have secure jobs and stable salaries and keep companies going.
Working in sales has changed completely due to social distance. There are no personal meetings with new customers to get to know. There are no trade fairs and events such as conferences, and so there are also no contact opportunities for sales. Salespeople now have to rethink and use the crisis as an opportunity – to relearn sales with social Selling.
With social Selling, you can sell successfully even in the Corona crisis despite the social distance. With social Selling, you can address customers via social media. However, this cannot be achieved through a clumsy approach and direct product sales with brisk advertising slogans.
Real commitment, authentic communication with expert positioning, and interactive dialogues are required. This is the only way to build the trust required for purchase. Companies that act well in the long term, and according to the target group, will also generate their sales through social Selling.
Social Selling is about targeting and building relationships. Earn the trust of potential customers to solve their problems. It is not enough to simply push actionist content on social media networks and do a little networking here and there. Companies need a proactive strategy with a professional concept for content marketing and social media marketing in order to achieve sales goals with social Selling.
Social Selling has replaced the old sales procedure (Sales 1.0) with direct marketing, cold calls, and lead buying by social Selling (Sales 2.0), which wins new customers with content and social media marketing. With Sales 2.0, companies gain leads that lead to a sale more effectively. How do the modes of action in social Selling differ from classic sales in concrete terms?
In the past, measures like direct marketing, cold calls, and lead buying were effective sales methods. Today, traditional sales no longer work because these measures are becoming more and more expensive and ineffective and they are no longer permitted. Addresses are becoming more expensive, and data protection has partially destroyed many approaches, such as direct marketing with purchased leads.
Social Selling is suitable for many goals: from lead generation and customer acquisition to customer loyalty with proactive use of social media. Many people use social media as a source of information when making purchasing decisions. This is a great opportunity for sales because you can win potential customers here. Social Selling is not about direct sales, but about a customer relationship with an honest interest in the cooperation and in the person or they’re problem-solving.
With social Selling, companies do not want to achieve one-to-many communication, as in “social media marketing,” but rather a personal one-to-one dialog with the customer. By participating in social media events, salespeople find potential customers. It is important to address fans and followers in the community openly and pleasantly so that an intensive, honest customer relationship emerges.
New mindset: customer advisors instead of product salesmen
Social Selling customer advisors want to achieve excellent customer relationships by …
- Become a needs-oriented seller with excellent customer relationships
- As a solution-oriented seller, you have in-depth product and industry knowledge in order to create tailor-made solutions
- Understand the customer’s challenges and offer solutions to the customer’s business issues to promote their business success.
It is often individual employees who use social media without the support of the sales organization. What is the best way to build a network that everyone involved can work through? Basically, the whole company should always be involved when it comes to social media. Experts who oversee networks should certainly be aware of what is happening on the company profile, especially when customer service is linked to social media.
Successful companies use social selling strategies with sales funnels. Sales, IT, and marketing work together in the implementation in order to design consistent processes in marketing and sales for lead generation.
With social media marketing, you can build your brand community on Facebook, etc. You can provide your contacts with customer-relevant content with content marketing and thus achieve your expert positioning with building trust. In this way, you generate your own leads from your ecosystem. To generate leads in your content marketing, develop small gifts for your customers with added value such as a checklist or white paper for exchange: contact details for a gift. However, make sure you get exclusive and high-quality content; otherwise, the deal won’t work.
Does social Selling also work in the B2B area? Definitely. Social Selling works not only in the B2C area but also in the B2B area. There, too, customers, sparring partners, or cooperation partners can be reached very easily via social media. The path is the same: companies just have to find the right content and starting points for their target group.
B2B is an even important area in social Selling, because B2B customers find out about products and services online before they even contact a sales manager. But B2B customers also have high expectations. You want a thorough understanding of the technical and business challenges facing a company. Therefore, the sales manager or social media manager should see himself as an advisor to the customer as a trusted advisor and expert.
Consultative Selling is suitable for products that require explanation, such as services because the focus here is mostly on performance, but rather on customer benefit and the solution of individual customer problems.
A person who works with social Selling becomes a customer advisor: He thinks process-oriented; he finds out needs, preferences, and wishes as well as problems, bottlenecks, and fears of the customer (see above). He defines the benefit of his offer for the customer, who often does not know all of these benefits himself, and represents the value.
For this, it is necessary to research the business processes and the value chain of the customer.
Consultative Selling makes the difference in B2B sales. The focus is not on the product or the service, but on the customer benefit and the solution of individual customer problems. In the case of solution-oriented advisory sales, the salesperson knows the customer’s business better than the customer himself.
The challenge for the salesperson is to understand how his solution can create added value for the customer. Anyone who is able to show the return on investment or the total cost of ownership of a solution can convince with additional arguments in addition to the price.
Are all social media networks equally suitable? Yes, in general, all social media networks are suitable for social Selling because contact and communication can take place anywhere. Updates on products, services, and processes can be distributed with a tweet or photos from business life that can attract fans and retain customers. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and also Instagram and Pinterest are suitable depending on the industry, company goals, and target customers.
B2B salespeople see the business networks LinkedIn and Xing at the fore in Social Selling. The focus on these platforms is on the company and reputation. Whitepapers, presentations, e-books can be easily presented here.
Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) measures how effectively you establish your professional brand, find the right target customers, and build relationships. Your score is updated daily.
Recommendations for action for SSI Optimization
1. Establish your personal brand with expert positioning
It is best to optimize your profile with your expert positioning for your personas. Post relevant articles that match your industry and customers that you want to attract. This content can be curated either from trusted sources or from an original blog-like post using the Publish Article feature. Either way, the goal is to establish yourself as a thought leader.
2. Find your ideal persona(s)
Do you know who you are looking for, and what keywords are related to it? LinkedIn has robust search tools that can help you find your ideal customer to build better connections, such as the SalesNavigator.
3. Gain insights from your analyzes
Dealing with Insights is a great way to find similar people in both your industry and your ideal client’s industry by joining relevant groups who can help you share your expertise.
4. Build relationships with relevant target customers on
You want to build relationships with decision-makers in order to win them over as customers. It is more effective if you can be recommended by your contacts.
Social Selling aims to target a targeted persona and to build relationships through an advisory sale. It goes hand in hand with success factors such as expert positioning, networking profiles, content marketing, social media, brand community, sales funnels, and marketing automation.
1) Start with analysis and strategy: Define your goals: Which target customers do you want to address? What are the profiles of the personas like? How is the customer journey? Customer journey and touchpoint marketing. Then design your social selling strategy with goals, measures, etc.
2) Create your content marketing strategy: For social Selling, you need strategic content marketing. It’s not about product advertising, but about customer-relevant stories. Storytelling is the key to success! Give a look behind the scenes. Create your social selling project with an action plan for constant content production with an editorial plan.
3) Use social media marketing for relevance and reach: Spread your customer-relevant, brand-appropriate, and SEO-optimized (relevant keywords) content with blog marketing online at the times when your target customers are active in social media.
4) Create professional profiles for your business networking: Many profiles in Xing and LinkedIn are neglected. That means: they have not been updated for a long time. Optimize your profiles continuously. Then implement your strategy consistently and start your project. Address ideal customers (persona) with business networking with customer relationship management.
5) Build a (brand) community for your ecosystem: With the social media community, you expand your ecosystem. (Corporate) influencers can effectively support this process by liking, sharing, and commenting on posts in order to increase engagement, relevance, and reach. Transparency is important, not only externally, but also internally among employees.
5) Use marketing automation in social Selling for the sales funnel: You save time and money through automation because many marketing processes now run through automated processes. In addition, your brand gains branding through search engine optimized articles. With marketing automation tools, leads can be won in the workflow and integrated into the CRM system for systematic processing.