We also need to actively participate in the online conversation.
Sales reps should blog for several reasons. For of all, to write an original post you need to keep up with the industry, and industry insights are increasingly what customers want from their B2B sales reps. Being able to write a cogent post is a good sign of clear thinking on the rep’s part, the ability to tell a story, and that they’re capable of intelligently customizing proposals for a particular prospect.
Blogging, tweeting, participating on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+, etc. are not just great training for social selling, they are key to social selling. Social selling is a 21st Century combination of research, prospecting and advertising all wrapped together.
- You can learn a lot about your customers and prospects and their needs through what they’re writing and tweeting about. For example, one time I noticed an existing client blogging about challenges with B2B social media in general, and with the program at her company in particular. Since the company that I was working for at the time provided social media marketing services — which she wasn’t using – I called her up, told her I had seen what she was writing about and suggested that it would be worthwhile for us to get together to talk about their social media needs. Two weeks later, we were.
- Engaging in an online conversation with a prospect about a topic that they care about is a far less burdensome way to introduce yourself than a cold call. You can get their attention by commenting on their content and by sharing it. Another good way to catch the attention of an industry leader is to live tweet their conference talk or webinar. Well done, these position you as an expert, not a sales person. And it may give you insight into the best time to reach out to them to make a sale.
- As your number of posts grows, and the people that you’re engaging with on social media increases (within reason), assuming that you’re putting out quality content people are likely to comment and share it more and more. Prospects and customers will naturally run across your material. Again, it reminds them of your expertise and builds both your individual brand and that of your company. Prospects are likely to trust you more.
If you’re not used to interacting on social media, though, you’re likely to be as clumsy as a middle schooler on a first date. As with everything, the only way to get good at it is to do it frequently.
Finally, this social media conversation is a two-way street. Just as you’re researching prospects online, they’re researching you – and deciding whether they want to talk with you at all. Prospects who find valuable writings and social media interactions are more likely to engage with you than if you’re absent from the conversation.
In a way the social media world is like a 24/7/365 convention. Don’t sit on a chair on the side; use this convention to engage, build your brand and sell.
Social selling isn’t taking time away from your work; today, it is central to your work.
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