Social selling is a concept that’s been taking the online business world by storm.
If you do business online, whether it’s selling marketing services to other businesses or selling products directly to consumers, you should probably be utilizing social selling methods.
Some might think that social selling is just the act of using social media to reach out to customers. But it’s actually a bit more complicated than that.
“Social media is just the channel that you use for social selling. Social selling itself is the strategy. It’s a whole new way to approach selling,” said Nick VanWagner, Director of Insights for LinkedIn Sales Solutions, in an exclusive interview with Small Business Trends.
The main difference between social selling and just generally promoting products on social media is the personal connection. With social selling, businesses can use referrals or warm introductions to reach out to potential clients. When those potential clients already have a connection to the business, they’re more likely to actually listen to what you have to say. And so they’re more likely to do business with you.
The other difference with social selling is the ability to learn a bit about potential clients before reaching out to them. Social media profiles can be a valuable source of information. When you see what types of content different people post, you can better decide whether they fit into your target market as well as how to best reach out to them.
This is in stark contrast to simply reaching out to a wide and random assortment of other social media users. VanWagner described this type of an approach as the equivalent of cold calling in social media.
For example, if an online marketer were to just send out several generic InMail messages to other LinkedIn users, it likely wouldn’t be as effective as reaching out to other users with personalized messages or referrals.
To best take advantage of social selling, VanWagner offered these four basic tips:
Create a Professional Brand
This requires having a complete profile full of information that might be relevant to your target audience. VanWagner also suggests having a professional looking photo and maybe some other multimedia elements like videos or slideshows.
Find the Right People
Reach out to people who actually fit into your target audience and find the people in your network who might be able to help you make those connections.
Engage with Insights
This tip involves becoming a thought leader in your field. If you share information that is relevant and potentially helpful to your target audience, they’re more likely to see you as a reliable source.
Build Strong Relationships
This last point, VanWagner says, is potentially the most important.
“Social selling is about creating real authentic connections, not just getting on different platforms and sending out a ton of requests. It’s about real personal relationships that are just reflected in a digital way,” he said.
Image: Twitter, Nick VanWagner