I don’t profess to be an expert in social media. I do profess to be an expert on the subject of selling. That being said, let me give you four social media tips for sales pros.
Tip #1 – Complete Your Profile
Complete your profile before trying to connect with people. I see this most often on LinkedIn. I receive literally hundreds of requests to connect with people on LinkedIn every month. I view LinkedIn as a tool…not a race to see how many connections I can make. I want to know who these people are.
- If you haven’t yet uploaded a photo of yourself or your product, you’re not ready to use LinkedIn as the valuable tool it is. If you don’t like any of your photos, have a professional take one. It’s 100% worth it.
- If you have not included at the very least your job title, your industry and your company name, you’re only toying with this incredible resource.
If I cannot determine from your profile whether or not we have something in common that’s related to business, I will not accept the connection. And you should treat LinkedIn the same way.
Tip #2 – Be prepared to work.
Somewhere along the line a lot of people got the idea that because postings appear instantaneously, that it’s a shortcut to success. There are no shortcuts to success. Selling always has been and always will be a process of building relationships.
Social media is an excellent tool for building relationships but the basic principles of selling still apply. You must prospect, connect, establish rapport, and qualify before you can earn the right to present any type of offer.
Tip #3 – Schedule social media time wisely.
In reading a comment in one of your groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, you read a great comment by Bob Smith. You let Bob know how much you appreciate what he said. Someone else comments on your comment. Another chimes in with a link that takes you away from the conversation and off onto another topic. Eventually, you come back to trying to connect with Bob outside of this conversation. When you view his profile, you note that he’s connected with someone else you might want to connect with…and it goes on and on. Next thing you know, it’s 11AM and you have not yet invested any part of your day in your real job–interacting directly with people who are in a position to own your product or service.
How much time is reasonable for you to commit to social media? What time of day is best for you to do it? Not your best selling time. Figure that out. Schedule it. Set a timer if you must, but STOP when it’s time to move on to another productive activity.
Tip #4 – Offer assistance before attempting to sell.
You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and say, “Read my book!” “Subscribe to my blog!” or “Buy my product!” (Well, some people might act that way, but not sales pros, right Champions?) So don’t do it in social media. Engage people first. Offer to be of assistance. Ask questions about their challenges, their needs. Then, only after a comfortable dialog has been established have you earned the right to even mention the possibility of providing service.
Social media is today’s hot tool for communication. And, it can be quite fun and productive–when you use it like a tool. The frenzy around it is not very different from new innovations in selling in the past–the f ax machine, overnight delivery, computers, mobile phones, laptops, e-mail, tablets and so on. Those are all tools of the trade that have moved business communications forward. They have accelerated the speed with which we can gain new knowledge and communicate with others. They have not replaced the communication process that is essential to the sales process.
As with any new tool, there are best practices for maximizing the effectiveness of social media. Invest the time to understand it. Use it wisely. And, you’ll gain the incredible benefits it can bring to your career.
Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.