I highly recommend Shannon Belew’s book called The Art of Social Selling: Finding and Engaging Customers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Other Social Networks. Belew says the power has shifted from the brand to the consumer. Marketing has become a two-way conversation with the customer. The art of social selling is based entirely on your ability to build relationships.
Did you know that over one BILLION people are active on social networks? Thus, it is extremely important that you know where your customers are hanging out.
Shannon Belew defines “social selling” as the identification, targeting, and reaching out to prospective and existing customers through social media channels and social communities in an effort to engage them in conversations that result in a potentially mutually beneficial relationship. This means being more social (listening and conversing about the customer’s needs) and less traditional selling. The heart of social selling is relationship building.
This book reveals Belew’s ten most important rules for online social interactions:
1) Be genuine: your social networking persona should be an extension of your real persona
2) Listen, listen, listen: to truly hear what the customer is saying so you can present a viable solution you must find and monitor conversations that relate to your prospective customer’s needs, concerns, and interests with the goal of remaining relevant to your customers
3) Be responsive: to customer-related complaints and concerns voiced across social media channels
4) Follow the leader: follow group guidelines, watch how members participate and interact with one another
5) Tailor the conversation: find common ground and share information relevant to your audience
6) Be helpful: offer educational opportunities, general support, and even inspiration
7) Identify the enter and exit signs: know if it is polite to enter the online interaction and make sure to exit gracefully
8) Maintain separation of professional and personal: make sure what you share is suitable for both audiences
9) Be consistent: give people a clear expectation of who you are and what your area of expertise is
10) Admit when you are wrong: be willing to apologize, it is a sign of strength and goodwill
Shannon Belew’s concept of “unselling“:
- Unselling is a process that occurs over time
- Requires consistent interaction with your prospects via social media
- This establishes your credibility as a good resource
- Identify and interact with industry influencers
- Be a thought leader to build social influence
- Embrace consultative sales in which you are developing conversations that educate and assist the prospect through the buying process
- This opens the door to an increased amount of sharing
- This increases the comfort level of prospects as well as puts you in the role of expert
Belew talks about word of mouth marketing. Social shoppers are not only influenced by their friends and family, but by perfect strangers, too. Encourage your happy and satisfied customers to provide online testimonials. Include your links on thank-you pages and emails. Respond to negative reviews quickly. Thank customers publicly for their positive reviews.
In this book, Shannon Belew cites a Technorati Report that stated that blogs are the third-most influential digital or online resource and the fifth most trusted resource on the internet. Blogs are great for sharing on social media. Plus, points made in a blog post can be posted or tweeted on social media. Later in the book, Belew gives specific tips about using each of the major social media channels. This is an incredible resource for business owners.
Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography