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Converting Social Media Into Sales
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.

Converting social networking into sales

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.