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Lee Odden

Scaling Social Media Selling – 7 Steps to Building Trust & Credibility

By Lee Odden     Content Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media

social salesInterest in scaling social media sales has increased significantly over the past year and in 2013 it be even more so.  Organizations of all types and sizes are coming to terms with the need to better monetize their investments and one of the most compelling opportunities to do so is through helping sales leadership develop their personal brands online.

It’s understandable why: A recent study reported on by eMarketer indicates that 67% of BtoC marketers and 44% of B2B marketers saw leads generated through social media channels.

Many companies are investing in social media listening for things like buying signal keywords to engage with prospects and creating content specifically to address the kinds of questions that lead to inquiries. However, there’s only so much a community manager or social media strategist can do.

In situations where organizations have sales teams that are not kept entirely busy by the marketing department, (shame on you!) some of the more enterprising sales and account executives will create social profiles and even blog.

Establishing an online presence to build their personal brand amongst a community of prospective customers can help them stand out and attract new business. For the right kind of sales person, building up individual brand can be instrumental for creating awareness that lowers barriers and facilitates reputation, credibility, trust that result in shorter sales cycles and an increase in inbound inquiries.

When sales organizations can facilitate this activity so that it helps individual sales executives build their online footprint at the same time as building trust in the overall brand, then it’s a win all around. People buy because they like you and what better way to communicate personality and “likeability” than through useful social media engagement?

As our agency works more and more with companies on content marketing strategy that impacts revenue, interest in helping sales executives undertand how content and social media can increase individual sales has become increasingly important. Here are a few steps to consider for doing that.

Understand the importance of a social presence in your industry – Leverage social media monitoring, customer surveys and industry research to get a broad view of what role social media plays in the brand and prospect relationship. Talk to social savvy sales people to get their first hand perspectives and  identify what’s working.

Conduct a self-assessment – While marketing should have a benchmark for the overall brand, it’s also important for the sales organization to determine the current social and online content participation of individuals. Who has profiles and how are they using them?

Embrace a model to attract, engage and convert – Provide sales teams with the “why” of using social media and content. Set expectations for time investment and time to see a return. A model that shows a path for social sales development and what that means for individuals will be instrumental for identifying training and successful implementation.

Identify tools – Efficiency and scale are essential for effective social selling, so identifying tools like blog publishing platforms, social media monitoring and promotions will be important.

Understand social audiences – Social listening and community participation will provide insights but helping sales executives see both short term engagement opportunities as well as long term nurturing will help avoid scenes like the biscuit in Tommy Boy.

Being useful is the most valuable sales tactic on the social web, not explicit sales pitches.  By figuring out how your target audience discovers, consumes and acts on information through the social web, you’ll be able to connect and build trust more quickly. This kind of connection is about being genuine, relevant and timely to build trust.

Create a personal brand content plan – With an understanding of why and what, the how for building a personal brand online is an important next step.  Think about what you stand for.  That’s your brand promise. Then follow through on that promise with useful, relevant and timely content.  Doing so will build trust that’s contagious

Practically, the hub and spoke model works as well for individuals as it does for companies overall and making a connection between personal brand building and that of the overall organization is key.  This plan covers topics, keywords, types of content, social networks, promotions and engagement tactics.  It also identifies the content that the brand can create to be repurposed  by sales teams for congruent messaging and efficient content marketing.

Monitor success and optimize performance - Leveraging social media monitoring tools, web analytics and the sales performance data that comes from marketing automation services can all provide crucial feedback for social sales performance optimization. It boils down to: knowing your target audience interests/pain points/goals that are solved by the solution you’re selling.

Be the “best answer” for information on those topics in a way that attracts mentions, social shares, links and discussion. The result will be prospects seeking you out more than you scrambling for where your next customer is going to come from.

There’s a lot more to a framework for enabling sales organizations with individual content and social media plans that are good for both individuals and the overall brand, but these are some important considerations to get started.  Everything from where to find the time to create content and engage on social networks to addressing the fear of a sales person publishing things they really shouldn’t can be addressed with the right plan and resources.

Here are a few practical social media tips for sales people that want leverage social media to build their personal brand online.

Every organization will have a few cowboys (or cowgirls) that go off and do their own social media thing.  But a smart and adaptable social content plan plus good training can empower entire sales teams to scale a company’s social media sales efforts and boost performance of both individual sales executives and the overall brand at the same time.

Does your organization enable sales execs with blogs, or social media sales training? If you work for a business in a sales executive capacity, does your company support social media and content publishing by the sales organization?

 


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