Before you go much further, you are going to need to decide which profiles you are going to use for selling through social networking, and which ones are going to be private and personal.
Some of you, who are more experience on social networks, already know what I am talking about here, so you might jump to the next section with the tips. If you don’t understand the privacy settings and primary purposes of the main social networks, keep reading. You definitely need to pay attention to who sees what!
For example, as a Business-To-Business consultant, I rarely add clients or networking partners to Facebook. Facebook has pictures of my young niece and nephew, other awkward family photos, and personal information about my wife and I, which I prefer not to be public. I focus my social networking for business on LinkedIn, so that is where I always request connections from clients and prospects. Twitter and Google+ are interesting because you don’t have to reciprocate, so others can follow you whether you add them back or not. To me this makes it very public since I can’t stop others from viewing and adding me. I tend to be very careful about what I post on these two and use them solely for business.
Google+ is the only social network to date that allows you to create “Circles” of contacts and only share certain information with certain circles. That means I can share business information with business circles, and family photos with my family circle. It is a very interesting tool, but use it wisely to avoid over-sharing.
The other choice you are going to need to make is whether or not you create a Business Page or add connections to your personal account.
Facebook and Google+ allow you to create dedicated pages for your business that operate with different settings and tools than your personal account. Twitter accounts can be used for anything, just make sure you decide your strategy before you get in too deep. LinkedIn is very interesting here. You can create a business page, but they will create one for you, once you have multiple employees on LinkedIn. After that, you can claim your business and customize your page.
I recommend that owners build audiences on business pages for marketing purposes to make sure they stick around should an employee leave, change roles, or the business change hands. However, people buy from people and they network with people, not companies. So for the purposes of this book, it will be better if you have a face and name to the business for sales purposes. You can’t create meaningful conversations with a brand.
Think about it. You can’t be friends with Pet Smart. You can’t connect with 24 Hour Fitness. You can’t start a conversation with Home Depot. People buy from human beings who they like. They talk to Eric at Home Depot. They connect with Laura, the personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness. They are friends with Kim, the groomer at Pet Smart. Because of this, you should to try to put a name and a face with your online social networking activities.
That being said, it is way more important that you choose whether you are going to build business or personal profiles, than which type you actually choose.
Decide now whether you are marketing on behalf of a company or selling as a professional salesperson at the organization.
Whether you’re an experienced social networker or just a getting started, here are 10 steps to connecting with your target market on LinkedIn:
1. Create an up-to-date profile and/or fan page
Before you begin connection, be sure that your profile is up-to-date with an accurate description of what you do, your interests, and your contact info. Make sure you include your website addresses, a professional photo, and your skills list. If you have multiple businesses invite people in your appropriate target market to become fans of your niche-specific business page.
2. Follow the favorites
Connect with leaders in your field/industry, who have a lot of influence, connections and followers, and request a connection them. This includes popular products, TV shows, or other specific interests of your target market. Anytime you make a friend request, include a personal note, as that will improve the likelihood that they will accept your request. Say something like, “I’m a big fan and I’d love to have you in my network.” Once they have accepted your invitation, make comments about their status updates to help you get on the radar, and in front of their thousands of connections.
3. Friends of friends – 2nd Degree Connections
Take a look at the people in the network of your industry leaders, as they are probably part of your target market as well. Send friend requests to those of interest to you. When you friend someone that you only know by association, send a personal note as well, like “I discovered your profile in ‘s network and would like to get to know you better by adding you to my network.”
4. Use LinkedIn groups
Look for groups that may contain your target market. In your search for groups, use keywords that describe your niche, industry, geographic area, interests, or whatever other terms you might use to find members of your target market. Join and begin to participate in the group so that they begin to get to know you. Then pursue the member lists for good prospects, start with the members you’ve connected with or have commented on similar posts.
5. Invite your existing email lists and address books
You can use your existing email database to add people from your clients, prospects, and other current contacts if they fall within your target market definition. Add a note to the invitation and make sure you are clear and professional about your motivation. Make sure to give them the option to connect with your personally or just follow the business page.
6. People You May Know
LinkedIn will have a suggestion list for people you might know. These recommendations are pretty solid, because they are based on similar work history, mutual friends and interests. Take them up on their recommendation and add these to your network, only if you actually know the person and have an offline relationship of some kind.
7. Add by interest or industry
Do a people search by job title, industry, geographic location, or interest. People with those terms in their profile will show up in your search, and you can request to add them based on common interests. Even better, you can see which of your connections knows them and request an introduction.
8. Build the relationship
Once you connect with someone, you need to begin to get to know them and start building trust so that you become their top-of-mind expert in a particular area. Begin building the relationship by sending a quick “thank you” note through LinkedIn, as well as a comment about something on their profile that interests you or in which you have in common. Watch for their status updates, as well, and comment on these when appropriate. Note when people post announcements or change positions and congratulate them.
9. Integrate your marketing strategy
Once you have built a good online reputation and credibility on LinkedIn, you can begin mixing in your marketing messages. Social networking sites are designed to be casual and personal like a business networking event, so don’t just copy an advertisement or sales messages. All you want to do is keep what you do and who you are on the top of your prospects minds. You can casually mention what you’re working on in your status, announce events, and make comments offering to help people with your product or service. Remember, people can remove, hide or block you as easily as they added you in the first place.
10. No More Cold Calls – Start Actively Prospecting
Here’s where it gets fun and where it pays off. Let’s say you need to make 10 dials to set enough appointments to hit your numbers. You can research the best 10 prospects on LinkedIn and find the CEO’s name, get a little background, their email and phone information, see their secretary’s name, or even their up or down-line in the company’s organizational chart. You then shoot him an email through LinkedIn Mail with the subject line. “Question” and include your unique selling proposition, and ask if they would be open for a quick phone call the following week at a specific day and time to see if there is reason to work together.
If you repeat this process 10 times, you have now scheduled your 10 dials in your calendar, 10 CEOs are expecting your call, and you are fully armed to have a sales conversation with them next week. No more cold calls, and no more procrastination since you have scheduled appointments with connections.
No prospecting strategy works unless you consistently implement it over time. As a newbie to LinkedIn, you might want to spend as much as 60 minutes per day researching connections and participating in groups. As your network grows, you may spend only 15 minutes 3 times per week on LinkedIn. The key to success is to put this strategy on your calendar and make it a routine part of your ongoing prospecting behavior.
LinkedIn is strict and very particular about how its participants contact each other. Many sites, including LinkedIn limit the number of new invitations allowed in a given day or week. If you exceed this amount you can get penalized or removed for spamming. If you stick within the guidelines of people you know in person or at least you have their email addresses, you should stay within most limits. If you ever receive a warning, you should stop immediately for that day and reduce your efforts moving forward.
While social networking is an inexpensive marketing tool, it can be effective in helping you grow your business. You should maintain your other prospecting strategies, and simply add this strategy to your prospecting activity.
A well-rounded prospecting plan needs to include social networking, and it could mean that your prospect well will never run dry and you never have to make another cold call.
Thank You Mr. Prospect for teaching me…
- My time and energy is a valuable commodity, and I can’t give it away for free.
- To be more organized and follow up in a timely manner.
- To ask the tough questions and have the guts to get to the truth.
- To have a plan and a system for my sale.
- To stretch my comfort zone so I can call at the C-Level.
- To listen more than I speak.
- That lowest price doesn’t really matter if I do my job right.
- I really don’t have to explain everything about my service, and that people will trust me to do my job.
- Some people do have budgets and are willing to spend them on the right solution.
- Prospects can make firm commitments and live up to them, and I can too.
- Not all prospects are right for my product or service, and it is OK to get a no.
- Prospecting will pay off, and nothing motivates me more than winning a sale.
- Social calls in sales are a myth, and the bottom line of selling is going to the bank.
- Sales is a skill that not everyone can master, and I am valuable to my company and family.
- Before I can “have” or “be” I must first “do” and “become.”
And Most Importantly…
To get what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.
|Social Networking Goals for Salespeople
In recent survey, networking was ranked as “important” by 90% of business people. It is clear that most salespeople see business networking events and social networking as valuable skill. Chances are however, showing any kind of legitimate return on investment for your time spent on social networking sites is going to be fairly difficult. That is, unless you have some SMART goals and a plan of attack to reap the rewards.
How to set sales goals for your social networking activity:
You are going to need a few types of goals for social networking and for sales to find and prove your success:
- Daily goals
- Short-term goals
- Long-term goals
Setting Daily, Short-Term, and Long-Term Goals
As in any area of life, there are some things you can just flip the switch and do, some things that take special timing or longer effort, and then there are long-term, stretch goals that may take years or a life-time to attain. It is important to break these activities up into manageable groups so that you can focus day-to-day, but not loose site of the big picture.
Daily goals are the small steps that you can complete every day that lead you towards your ultimate goals. These easy tasks are just like flipping a switch, when you decide to do it. For example, you can send and email to a client, post a status update, or send invites to a special event. A great daily goal is to call or meet at least one person in real life that you are connected to online.
Short-term goals are the intermediate steps that take weeks or months to complete, or require special timing. These goals require extra planning or effort, or are not feasible to do in a day or every day. For example, you may want to 50 new leads per month to hit your quota, give referrals to your top strategic alliances, or host a meet-up at your office. These goals are not typically not feasibly done everyday and require some time-frame between 7 and 90 days to complete. A great short-term goal for social networking is to add enough new leads to your pipeline to hit your sales goals each month.
Long-term goals are typically those BHAG goals. That’s right the Big Hairy Audacious Goals that will make your year and signify your ultimate success. These goals typically take 90 days to a year or more to check off the list. This is your ultimate yearly sales quota, the income you want to make, the public praise or private pat on the back that drives you in your career. Most people have these goals in the back of the heads, but again, studies show that very few have them down on paper, or a plan to attain them. A great long-term goal for social networking is to develop the relationships and personal networking strong enough to provide a steady stream of qualified referrals, so you never have to prospect or cold call again.
You have spent some time reading this. Spend a few more minutes and write down your top 3-5 goals for each category.
People with written goals and a plan to achieve them are over 10 times more likely to achieve the levels of success they want in their business and their life.
|Social Networking Balance For Business
Usually on this blog, I try to talk about the “ideal” way to engage in social networking, but it occurred to me that a lot of small business owners and sales people don’t necessarily want to or have the time to invest in being the best at social networking. Some people just want to know what the minimum level of acceptable activity is so they don’t look bad or hurt their business, or at least a way to keep up with the competition.
I am sure most people are too busy running their business or doing their actual job to be fully engaged in social networking all day, so I want to try to explain a way to find some balance.
Social Networking Balance for Business
Marketing your business online can be a little tricky. You can literally spend millions of dollars or you do nothing, and still have a successful business. You can have outdated websites and social media profiles that give very bad impressions, like you are out of business or out of touch, or you can overwhelm people with thousands of marketing messages per day.
So how do you find your sweet spot?
Here are a couple of general rules to help guide you:
- Keep your profiles and contact information correct, consistent and current 100% of the time.
- Keep dates, timelines, copyrights, and other time sensitive elements up to date to current to the month or year.
- Set some kind of calendar, to-do list, or email reminder to make updates on a regular basis.
- Keep a password book or spreadsheet with all the links, log-ins, and profile pages you create for your business.
- Set a Google Alert or create a reminder to check your business’s online reviews, ratings and comments so you can manage your reputation.
- Post on your blog and social media accounts as much as you can manage or as much as your followers want to hear from you, whichever is least.
- Don’t forget that social networking is a two-way street. You will want to comment, post on customers or business partners walls, and engage with other people too, so don’t spend all your time on yourself.
- Make it a priority for your team, friends, family, business partners, clients and other close “real world” relationships to help promote and share your content.
Bottom line: Make managing your online reputation a priority.
You wouldn’t walk around with business cards with the wrong phone number, or pass our coupons with expired dates from 5 years ago on them, so don’t let it happen online. Also, if you take pride in your business and reputation in the real world, then you should make sure that your online reviews and comments reflect that same image and professionalism.
Minimum Social Networking Activities for Small Businesses
- You must claim your local map listings immediately on Google+ Places, Bing and Yahoo.
- Send a mass email with events, news and articles at least once per month.
- Your list should be at least the size of your client base for the last 3 years.
- Post a new blog or news article on your website at least once per month.
- Post on your Google+ page for your business once per day.
- Post a status update on your Facebook business page at least once per week.
- Post a tweet or retweet someone else’s every day.
- Update your personal LinkedIn profile and your Company Page at least once per week.
- Request reviews from every satisfied customer on your Google+ places map listing.
- Encourage employees, referral partners, and close connections to share your most important message or offer of the month with their connections.
- Run a small pay-per-click Google Adwords campaign for your business name and other common searches that identify for your business.
- Use Facebooks promoted posts or “Like” pay-per-click campaigns to grow your page’s fans.
Ideal Social Networking Activities
- You must claim your local map listings immediately on Google+ Places, Bing and Yahoo, and any other prominent review sites.
- Send a mass email with events, news and articles once per week.
- Your list should be at least 3 times of your client base for the last 3 years.
- Post a new blog or news article on your website at least once per day.
- Post on your Google+ page for your business 3 times per day.
- Post a status update on your Facebook business page at 3 times per day.
- Post a tweet or retweet someone else’s 5 times per day.
- Update your personal LinkedIn profile and your Company Page at least once per day.
- Request reviews from every satisfied customer on your Google+ places map listing, and rotate the other sites in so you can have dozens of reviews on all major listings.
- Encourage employees, referral partners, and close connections to share your most important message or offer of the week with their connections.
- Run a pay-per-click Google Adwords campaign of about 1% of your total sales each month, for your business name and other common searches that identify for your business, and more keywords and phrases.
- Use Facebooks promoted posts for each blog article, coupon or offer, and continuously run a “Like” pay-per-click campaign to grow your page’s fans until you reach 3 times your client base.
I hope that give you a baseline to work from and a goal to shoot for in your social networking activity for your business. If you have any comments or questions, please share them below.
|Social Media Sales From Click To Close
This topic is really why I am writing this book. I was doing some research about social media, and I found thousands of books and articles on how to get followers and grow audiences through social networking. After reading a dozen of the best books on the subject I found that most of them stopped once you grew your audience, but that doesn’t actually translate into sales at the bottom line. Since then, I have found a few books and websites that talk about sales and social media, but still very little information about what happens after the “like.” They all say something like “engage your audience” or “develop the relationships” and no one really tells you how to do this… until now.
Here are the top 10 ways to turn social networking in to actual sales revenue for your company:
1. Having business conversations
Two of the most common mistakes people make when social networking is that they share posts and start conversations about the wrong things. They either only post personal information about what they are eating and where they are going, along with sports, weather and news, or they only post offers and constantly bombard you with their latest marketing messages. No one likes to follow the person who only blasts out spammy sales messages, so don’t get me wrong here. The key is to share interesting information and start conversations about your business and the problems you solve.
Try to find a happy medium in the middle, so you can start having meaningful business conversations. Try to keep posts related to your business on sites other than Facebook. Your personal Facebook page can be more about you, but make sure your friends and family still know what you do for a living so they can use or refer you. On your business Facebook page, treat it more like LinkedIn and keep it about business. Ask questions and post articles that start conversations about your area of expertise and this will lead to more leads and sales.
2. Listening, watching, and caring for your audience’s needs
Another chronic problem with social networking is that it is usually all about you. We love sharing and posting about ourselves, but we hardly ever listen to what others are saying and sharing. Your sales antenna should always be up, and you should constantly be seeking out people who have the type of problems you solve. Find people, groups, blogs, and communities who fit your target market and watch and listen for opportunities where you can be of service. Reach out to others when someone can benefit from your product or service and offer to help in any way you can. Start the conversation and see if it doesn’t end up in more sales.
3. Proactively starting conversations and sharing helpful information with others
Following the previous step, you don’t always have to wait until you see someone post about a need. There is a good chance you know what someone looks and sounds like when they need your company. Seek these people out and offer a hand. When I designed websites and I came across a really bad site with a copyright at the bottom from 5 or 6 years earlier. I knew they needed a new site, so occasionally I would reach out to them with an offer or a helpful suggestion. This can take many forms. You might send an industry related article to a referral partner or client, give some advice to someone making common mistakes in your area of expertise, or just say hi, tell them what you do and offer to be of service if they need you. The key is to not wait for people to seek you out and follow you, but to be proactive and go find people who can buy from you. Many times they don’t know what they are missing, and you can help them discover your company for the first time.
4. Using open ended questions and challenging statements to start conversations
This can be tricky at first, but with a little practice you can get really good at posting questions, articles, or statements that start conversations. Too many people forget there is no “dislike” button on social networking sites, so people are much more likely to interact with positive messages then negative ones. Also, if they are too boring or obvious most people won’t waste their time. Think to yourself what would make you or your business likable. What message would cause people to comment or hit that share button to show all of their friends. Don’t waste you and your prospects time with boring posts or negativity. Try to give them something compelling and uplifting. Humor gets shared quickly around the world.
Don’t forget about tip #1 up there! They should be related to your business, and lead you to prospects not useless conversations about food or politics.
5. Doing a little free consulting
Normally, we discourage salespeople from doing too much free consulting and solving the prospect’s problem before they get paid for it, but social networking is a little different. This is a prospecting activity and not a sales call so it is OK solve some people’s problems, especially if hundreds or thousands of people can see you do it. Don’t be afraid to share too much inside information on your blog or social networking sites. Chances are that people can’t do it themselves anyway, or you wouldn’t be in business. Take this post for example. I am giving away a lot of good information about how to sell, but I know most of you can’t or won’t take the time to do all 10 of these things and eventually you will probably need more of my help. (I don’t mean you. You are committed to take action on these items immediately and will be forever changed.)
6. Sharing an easy entry offer
If your goal is to get more sales through social networking, eventually you are going to have to ask for the sale. Despite what a lot of marketing gurus say, people usually don’t just call up and buy the biggest and best your company has to offer because they liked you on Facebook. You are still going to have to sell. One easy way to move your audience into the funnel is to make a no or low cost offer as an entry point. This will help you collect their information as a lead, and it will allow them to sample a bit of your solution before they take the big plunge. Think about how this might work in your business. It could be 30 day trial, a consultation, or a coupon. Just make sure it is easy to buy or try, and that you make it highly visible on all of your social media accounts and website.
7. Targeting ideal customers
We already talked about being proactive and seeking out people to have a conversation with, but this time I want you to think bigger. See if you can come up with the top 10 ideal clients for you that you have always dreamed of… who would that be? Who would be the biggest, most profitable, dream clients that you have always wanted?
Now go out there and get them. There are no gatekeepers, mean secretaries, or other obstacles standing in your way online. Virtually everyone is on at least one social networking site, and they are out there waiting for you to connect with them. Having trouble reaching that CEO of the hospital who needs your software? What about that rich politician who needs your interior design expertise? What are you waiting for? All you need is a name or a company name and you can find out a way to reach them. Start following them on Twitter, ask for an introduction on LinkedIn, send them an email, make the calls, send a friend request on Facebook, find out where they like to eat of Foursquare. This is why you make the big bucks as a salesperson. Go connect with them and start the conversation!
8. Targeting referral partners and raving fans
Being likable in tip #4 is good. Being share-able is even better. At least once a week, share a post, email, or blog that is designed to be shared by your referral partners and raving fans. These people would be happy to refer you, but sometimes they don’t know how. You can use your easy entry offer, or some compelling educational content to encourage your connections to share your offer with other people you don’t know yet. This is a great way to grow your audience and convert them into sales.
We all know referrals are the holy grail of leads, and creating a post that is easy for people to share will allow your fans to refer you to all of their contacts. The average person is connected to about 250 people. Influential referral partners may have thousands of followers and connections to which you can get a promoted. Want to know who is the most influential in your network? Look up their Klout.com score to get a rough idea.
9. Taking the conversations offline
Very few businesses completely sell and service their clients online, so you will probably want to take the relationship offline and into the real world at some point. Don’t be afraid to make the first move, but don’t be pushy either. People enjoy the relative safety and security of online communications, and calling too soon can be considered pushy. When making this call, I find it best to you a very soft, customer service approach.
When calling a prospect who has completed a call-to-action on your site and entered their phone number, try something like this. “Hi, I’m from ______ company and I noticed that you download the white paper on ______. I just wanted to make sure you found the answers you were looking for and see if there was anything else we could do to help. Did you get everything you needed?” This will lead one of two ways, if it did, you can follow up with “What did you like about it?” “What made you download that one?” or “Great, how did you find us?” If it did not, you can follow up with “Sorry to hear about that. What were you hoping to find?” Those questions can lead to the problems they had that your company can hopefully solve. Just be real and honest and see how you can further the relationship. No need for complicated scripts or high-pressure sales pitches.
Also, don’t forget about your clients and referral partners. Your existing connections need attention too! I recommend calling at least one connection on LinkedIn per week and getting together offline for a lunch or conversation about how they are doing and how you can best help each other moving forward.
10. Following up constantly and consistently
Finally, the big one! Did you know that 55% of Internet leads are never followed up with, and of the 45% that are the average response time is over 2 days?!?
Believe it or not, it actually gets worse. Again, of the 45% who follow up on leads, the average number of attempts is less than 2. Most salespeople make one call, email or follow up and then let the relationship drop. This same study found that your chances of getting an appointment actually go up through the first 6 attempts! Learn this lesson now. You are not bothering people by being consistent and thorough in your follow up. People need to be reminded and you are only one event out of hundreds in your prospects day. Don’t give up until you actually get a firm YES or a firm NO!
Follow up also includes those other relationships with referral partners and clients. We all know too well, that just because someone agreed to something, doesn’t make it so. The friend who said they would introduce you to a potential prospect, or the client who said the check is in the mail, almost always need additional follow up. The studies don’t lie. It takes up to 8 contacts to get a result, and you chances of being successful increase over the first 6 times you try. If you want the sales, it is your responsibility to see that each and every lead or introduction has an outcome.
The key to converting social networking into sales is personal connections and interpersonal communication.
Social networking is really no different that business networking in the real world. Most people screw up both by either being to soft and not talking business, or being to hard and trying to sell before the develop trust in the relationship.
Approach social networking like you would approach people socially at a business networking event and you will avoid problems and make better choices.
Did I miss anything? Please share in the comments below.