About a year ago, people started throwing around the buzzword “social selling.” We heard about it on LinkedIn. We read about it in blog posts. It seemed the market had found a “new way” to generate sales.
But what does social selling really mean?
While the marketing community was busy talking about this new solution, there was concept that was missing from the conversation. The first step to understanding the value in social selling, was to grasp the importance of relationship marketing.
It’s all about relationships.
Relationship marketing means having a clean and clear identity that defines who you are as a business professional or brand. Once defined, this identity is used to build trust.
Social networking—maintaining consistent conversion in social channels and activity surrounding your website—should support this identity. Once engaged, the relationship marketing cycle will allow you to build on these relationships and develop trust.
What are simple ways to nurture the relationship? Email marketing, call campaigns, social media engagement—anything that connects you to (and anticipates) your customers needs, desires, questions and concerns.
Once relationship marketing strategy is implemented, how do we initiate social selling?
Building a trusted social network will allow you to form brand advocates. In today’s social world, these advocates are the key to growing your business.
Let’s break it down. When we reach out as an organization or personal brand, we build trust through engagement—often, by honing in on similar interests. Many times the connection can stem from something small (dancing, biking, family, music, love of bowties etc.). It doesn’t have to be trending, or even relevant to your business. What matters is that you are building a connection by allowing someone to be heard.
When a connection is made, something happens to the neurons in our brain. We say to ourselves “Hey, I think I like this person”— and we start the trust-building process. In social selling, we are able to form these connections through social networks like LinkedIn where we can see more about the person and understand who they are in order to build that connection prior to engagement.
Let’s talk about trust, baby.
This quantum shift is new. Historically, engagement required time and due diligence to get to that point of acceptance and trust. Today—while still important to invest in the quality of the relationship and not devalue longevity—the process is expedited. (In no other platform is B2B relationship building more pronounced than on LinkedIn).
Both you and your brand’s social network are empowered by the connections of your connections, providing faster (targeted) access to new markets, clients and customers. Whereas in the past it would have taken a much longer period of time to access those connections and/or notice them (have them notice you)—now we can engage almost immediately to see what we have in common and how we might aid one another.
This dynamic is something we cognitively understand, yet many companies fail to actualize.
At its core, social selling is intrinsic.
Today’s platforms just get the job done faster, more efficiently (and for some, more creatively). Instead of thinking about how to quantitatively grow your network, consider the people within it—their needs, patterns, behaviors and how to connect on a emotional level. While strategy is essential, remember emotions—and relationship building—are the roots that allow social selling to flourish.
For strategies and tools to enhance your social selling capabilities, visit author Dean DeLisle (founder of Forward Progress) at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Atlanta. His talk “Social Selling—How to Use LinkedIn for New Business Development” is on Wednesday, August 19th at 8am and will focus on how to generate targeted leads from LinkedIn.