Social Selling

Selling with Social: Are You Ready?

Social media and sales are both based on relationships, yet these two have had a hard time coming together. Brands that aggressively sell online, in the media, and in brick-and-mortar shops have been very hesitant to “sell” in the social space. That could be, in part, because of fears that a more upfront approach would drive away fans and cause decreased levels of engagement. But, in truth, there are many brands selling successfully in social. It just takes a little finesse (and, if it makes you feel better, you can call it “marketing” instead).

The cornerstone of any successful sales (or marketing) effort is understanding who you are trying to reach and what they want and need from your business. You may know what your customer wants from you in the real world, but do you know what they expect you to deliver in social media? That’s the question you have to answer to be successful in the social space. Many companies have already tested those waters and there are some universal truths when it comes to “social selling.”

Social Selling Tip #1: No Hard Sell

Social media users are on Facebook or Twitter primarily to build relationships, discover new information and connect with people, companies and causes that mean something to them. They will buy from brands they trust, but approaching them like an infomercial at 2am will turn them off faster than an invitation to play Farmville.

Take a look at how Barneys New York treats its social platforms. The company is in the business of selling high-end clothing, shoes and jewelry, and they do this very delicately. On social, the store focuses on inspiring its fans with great styling tips and ideas. No hard sell here.

The same goes for the stationary company, Tiny Prints. Its social platform showcases creative cards, stationary and other products, but there’s no pressure to buy anything. It’s a place to discover new ideas and find, here’s that word again, inspiration.

Do fans buy from these sites? Of course they do! In an Inc. Magazine article, the Tiny Prints’ Marketing VP said their sales skyrocketed by 600% in the year after they launched on social.

Social Selling Tip #2: Customers Want a Relationship

Customers like your brand page because they are interested in your product, want to learn more and want to connect with others with similar interests. The most successful sellers on Facebook engage with their fans. Take Zappos for example. Company executives said they consider Facebook their ‘culture cultivator.’ The company uses the site to get fans excited about the brand and create a place for customers to interact with each other and the company. Bare Escentuals, a premium make-up line, lets customers lead the online conversation and has even taken suggestions to heart, rolling out new products inspired by Facebook fans.

Social Selling Tip #3: Customers Want Stuff

Your customers want to feel like they get some value from your social media, value they can’t get anywhere else. A great way to increase time on your page and drive brand loyalty is to give back. There are many ways to give added value to your visitors. Coupons, giveaways and fan-only deals, when used with some thought and restraint, can be a great reward for your faithful. For instance, Skull Candy offers free music downloads, Red Bull provides fans with free video games, and Coca-Cola keeps fans coming back for ever-changing promotions and offers. CoverGirl offers tips and tutorials.

Setting Yourself Up For Social Selling Success

Social has the power to drive big sales whether your firm is aggressive or takes a more laissez faire approach. What successful social sellers all have in common is that they understand their audience and they are speaking specifically to them to build long-term, loyal relationships. Successful sellers in social are also transparent. Trickery doesn’t work so well in this space, because someone quickly comes along to point out the lie. If anything, social is making sales much better for the consumer, offering them more information, honesty, and plenty of fan/follower-only special offers. For companies, it’s a new way to move your product,  interact and learn from those who love and hate what you are doing. This could truly be a golden age in sales, you just have to dive in to social and do it!

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