A lot has been written about social media. It easily falls into the category of information overload. So, how do you whittle this down to those actions that will get you the most return for your time spent? If you make your living selling, there are six steps you can take to create a successful social sales plan.
1) Establish your goals.
Differentiate between selling and marketing. More specifically, is your goal to identify and make connections with key decision makers? Or, is your goal is to throw out a net to attract potential buyers to contact you or visit your site? Each is important and deserves separate plans and action items. Your plan for social media selling should include identifying, connecting and engaging new prospects.
2) Set time limits.
One of the biggest mistakes sales people can make when selling online is to get their time sucked up by internet “work”. If you can dedicate 1 hour per day or 20 hours per week, block that off in your calendar and stick to it. Prospecting through social media can be one of those engaging activities that can lead you in many different directions. By establishing a set time, you can stay focused and productive.
3) Create a social profile.
Begin by asking yourself some questions. Who are you targeting? What type of social sites do they use? To what groups do they belong? Then you need to make sure your profiles are appealing to that target market. For instance, if your largest market is pharmaceutical companies, do your profiles summarize how you consult and help individuals in that industry with your service? Are you visible in the groups they belong? It is important to assess your online image to insure it appeals to the right people.
Once you have established the typical social profile of your target client, you can eliminate the social media sites that are not relevant to them. For many, LinkedIn is a logical first choice to include. It specializes in connecting professionals. Long gone are the days it was just used for posting resumes and looking for work. Savvy sellers are using it to search for, connect with and engage prospects. However, if you sell to individuals rather than B2B, LinkedIn may not be your dominant source for leads. If your prospects’ products are very visual, consider sites with rich media such as YouTube, Pinterest or Flickr. Unless you have 100% of your time to dedicate to selling on social media, you will have to pick and choose.
5) Become active.
As you become active on any of these sites, remember to be helpful, informative or entertaining. Be careful how aggressively you push your product. Social media is very self policing and they will not tolerate using it as an advertising tool. Remember your goal is to make connections first.
On LinkedIn’s free version, you can join groups for your target markets. Connect to your target company’s page to get their updates. Search for industry types. Search for contacts within your network in companies of interest. The general rule is not to ask to connect unless you have some prior connection (have you met them, do you have a mutual friend, do you have a group in common). Personal notes with your connection requests are always a good idea rather than using the default message.
Post items of interest to your target group. Perhaps you read an article you that would help them in their jobs. You can link back to something on your website or another social media site if it is relevant and helpful.
If you use Twitter, begin searching for and following your clients and target clients. Tweet helpful, informative or entertaining items that will relate to them. Repost their tweets. A wonderful tool for searching tweets is TweetDeck. Set up searches for your company to see comments, your clients’ companies and any area of interest to them.
Other ways to engage are to write a blog, pin items on Pinterest, post videos or photos that are relevant to your targets. If your product has review sites, you may be able to respond and provide helpful information – not direct sales!
6) Assess progress and readjust regularly.
Social media is constantly changing. Therefore your plan should be fluid. Have you reached your social media goals? Are you building profitable relationships through your social media contacts? If not, try something new and evaluate those results!
Today's post is a guest blog from our National Director of Sales for Hospitality, Amber Fox.