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29 March 2016  /  
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Importance of Social Selling for small businesses

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The process of sales today has undergone major transformation from what it was in the last decade. Social media & online sales has lead this change. Because of the amount of information available on the internet and social media, customers have already consumed most of the information even before going ahead to make the purchase.

For example, when a customer is looking to buy a product they first identify various options on the internet based on the requirements. There are multiple websites and forums where they can get detailed information about the product. The internet provides free access to expert reviews, product experientials by friends or family and feedback from previous customers as well. So when the customer gets in contact with the brand, they have has already made up their mind and just want to get the transaction done. This is essentially the information that a salesman would provide when the customer gets in contact. Research shows that in more than 60% of purchases, the customer has already decided on the product even before engaging with a live salesperson.

So, what is social selling?
Social selling is when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering product related questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy. This can be via forums, groups or even targeting prospects directly.

Example of how social selling can be used –
A woman owns a surf shop in California. On her LinkedIn profile, she posts quality content detailing surfing strategies, safety procedures to always abide by and interesting facts about the ocean blue. Surfing enthusiasts and the newly interested alike follow her content. She builds a network of these like-minded folk. Soon, they’re hanging out in her shop not just to buy surfing gear, but also to discuss surfing tips. She’s recently begun teaching surfing lessons, due to her recognized expertise in the field and the steady stream of people interested in participating.

Just being present on the internet does not help these days. Brands need to reach out to customers. Social Selling is something which companies cannot afford to miss out on. Whether you are a global brand or a small business, social selling is something which you will need to master as soon as possible. Here are some Social Selling tips for brands.

1. Listen & Understand – The most important stage in any relationship is to listen and understand who your potential customer is. Take your time in understanding who he/ she is. Social media channels like facebook, twitter, Instagram gives an opportunity to know your customer well before you can reach out to them.

2. Go where your Customers are – Depending on the nature of your product, your brand needs to be present in platforms where ever the potential customers are. For example it is important for a brand to be on Instagram if the target audience is present of Instagram. For a brand that has a typical target audience of young people who like soccer, it is important for the brand to be present on platforms like facebook and twitter as the audience is expected to be active on these platforms.

3. Build a relationship & not spam – There is a thin line between being informative and spamming. Good way to connect with potential customers and build a relationship is to share relevant articles/ blogs about current trends, look out for blogs/ conversations relating to your industry and try contributing there.

4. Create great “social offers” – Using a call to action strategy always helps. The objective is to get people to share great offers with friends, which helps spread the word. Use words like “First, best, or only” in your social media posts.

5. Promote and encourage customer reviews – Reviews of past customers is very important in the online space. Before finalising a purchase, customers will always check reviews from previous customers. Positive reviews are great but even negative reviews can be used to the brand’s benefit if responded well.