This week, we are delighted to have Tony Hughes, Founder of RSVPselling as our guest blogger. Tony is an expert in the social selling, sales leadership and strategic selling space.
By Tony Hughes
Social selling matters because social buying is a reality – we live in the age of massively empowered buyers and they’ve changed the way they engage with sellers. They can research and commoditise what we offer with just a few clicks. They can also assess our assertions of value and then introduce competitors with ease. Sellers therefore need a framework for attracting customers through strong personal and corporate brands. Individuals as well as corporations need social strategies for complex business-to-business (B2B) selling where, according to CSO Insights, there are on average 6 people involved in the typical buying decision.
But social selling is a misnomer because we don’t actually sell in social. The reality is that those who spam, push, annoy, narcissistically drone or aggressively sell are unfollowed and disconnected as quick as a click. Connecting to someone new and then immediately seeking to sell is a serious mistake. I define Strategic Social Selling for business-to-business (B2B) as: The strategy and process of building quality networks online that attract clients and accelerates the speed of business and efficiency of selling, as achieved with personal human engagement through social listening, social publishing, social research, social engagement, and social collaboration.
On a foundation of a strong personal brand I have identified the 5 pillars that enable the best results in social:1) Social Listening/Monitoring, 2) Social Research, 3) Social Content Publishing, 4) Social Engagement and 5) Social Collaboration. In my definition, technology is merely an enabler but can be leveraged to create truly incredible results with the right strategies. Obviously, social initiatives are supported by the use of technology and social platforms but it’s really all about human connection and interaction to provide real value through insight or assistance with relevant content and conversations.
Social platforms have driven the era of personal brands and a new level of transparency. Social proximity is a real factor that enhances or undermines potential connection, often without the seller ever discovering how their network helped or hindered their efforts. Your social strategy will depend on what you’re seeking to achieve and where your market is but don’t fall into the trap of becoming busy in social without having a strategy for both connection and content. For example, think about the reasons for posting in LinkedIn Publisher or creating Facebook pages. Are you seeking to attract and build an audience platform? Are you wanting to evidence your credentials? Are you wanting to provide insights and credibility to support your new business meeting requests? Are you wanting to proactively deal with potential objections you could encounter? Are you seeking to associate yourself with admired brands and thought leaders? Are you perhaps chipping away at commonly held myths about your disruptive solution set to cause a sea change?
Social selling is a strategy, not a set of technologies. Most importantly, you need to know exactly who your target audience is and what insight or value you can provide before they would be interested in what you sell. Once you know what you’re seeking to achieve and have defined goals and metrics, then you can design your strategy and action plan to cascade down to the individual elements.
Tony Hughes is ranked as one of the top social sellers in the world and the #1 influencer for professional sales in Asia-Pacific. Tony is an accomplished keynote speaker and best selling author with his LinkedIn blog widely read. You can also find an interview with Tony on the EchoJunction podcast.