No matter what product you sell, social media can be used to your advantage. With the help of a few of my favorite characters from Gilmore Girls, here are five key steps to selling through social media.
1. Build relationships
- Luke took AGES to get together with Lorelai because he spent an unbelievable amount of time just getting to know her. And you know what? It worked out in the end. Get to know your potential customers through social media, real-world networking events, or even a lifetime of coffee dates, and it will pay off.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of this step, commonly known as “engagement”. A customer you’ve engaged with – before you try to sell to them – is much more likely to have a positive view of your brand than a customer you simply sell hard to.
- If you try to sell too early, you might end up coming on too strong when the prospect is not yet ready to buy. This might backfire, and your client might metaphorically assume this position.
2. Listen carefully
- Be aware of what your prospects are saying online, and monitor their social media feeds.
- Engage especially when the conversation isn’t about what you or what you’re selling. Try to be truly interested in your prospect, rather than solely concerned with persuading them to buy your product.
- This will endear you to prospects and increase their trust in you, rather than reducing you to an overly persistent and annoying salesperson who chimes in to promote a product when it’s not relevant to the conversation.
- If a prospect decides to buy, continue to engage, even if it’s on a reduced level. They can become advocates and sources of referral business…perhaps also your defenders if you get a complaint. Don’t ignore them once the deal is done.
- Listening allows you to learn what people are saying about your brand, in turn giving you the opportunity to improve your online media presence by projecting an in-the-know attitude. You want to listen to and engage with your customer to the point where you can truthfully say this about your relationship:
3. Uncover problems and needs
- This ties into the previous step; it’ll be hard for you to find out problems and needs without listening to feedback from prospects and customers.
- Once you have engaged in a healthy number of non-sales-related conversations, you can ease into conversations about your product – if, and only if, it’s relevant.
- Listening to what prospects are saying will often enable you to spot needs and problems prospects may have that your product could solve, which is an excellent marketing message.
- You may also hear about how your product works (or doesn’t). Social can work really well for doing product marketing research.
- Listening also allows you to correct misconceptions about your product that may be turning people away from it. Even if they’re just silly exaggerated rumors, they could go uncorrected without careful listening and monitoring of social media.
4. Help people solve those problems
- Demonstrate your competence and your willingness to help, whether it’s troubleshooting, adding features, fixing bugs, or simply providing clear explanations for why the product works a certain way.
- Take the time to create great content, share it effectively and widely, and ask what you can do to make your content even better.
- Don’t do all of this with only a sale in mind – do it for the sake of helping someone fulfill the needs that you have discovered they have. Hopefully you’ll be more helpful than Lorelai.
5. Ask for the sale
- Up until this point, you may have executed brilliantly on social, dancing around the actual sale. You feel like you’ve engaged with the prospect, you’re reading their signals, and you can tell that they’re ready to buy. So unless they’re throwing themself at you and begging you to take their money, you’re going to have to ask for the sale.
- You can do this in a number of ways: Provide an online link. Call them on the phone. Meet with them in person. Whatever you choose to do, be open and clear, and avoid being pushy.
- Again, be careful not to do this too early in the sales cycle – wait until you’re certain that you have listened to and engaged with your prospect, they are trusting you, and you’re picking up on clear buying signals.
Which of these steps do you think is the most important? Any success stories? Any horror stories? Let us know below!