Is it okay to ask for business through social media? YES! If you're not selling through social, you should be.
If I want to earn your business, I need to ask! I connect with you because I want to help you (or your colleagues, or your sibling, or spouse or mom or whoever) do business. When you accept my request to connect, you help me do business by extending my network and my potential reach to others in your sphere of influence—even if we never personally do business together. How can that be bad?
Back in the "old days," a salesperson had to walk down the street, walk in a business’ door and ask if they could demonstrate their product. Of course, most people would kick the salesperson out immediately. They had to learn to be relentless—to close one deal, they had to make 20 cold calls and two demonstrations a day, five days a week. It was hard work, but that was the way you sold. Now, with social media, your fingers can cover far more distance than your feet ever could. You’d be foolish not to take advantage of it.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the pushy kind of social media selling: clickbait titles that lure you in by promising that you can learn 3 things in 4 seconds…all while underwater. Viral videos that show up in your feed dozens of times, as all of your connections like and share them. But does this kind of social media really help with sales? It can, but not as directly as when you “Ask for the Order.” More about that in a minute—let’s look at the buying process first.
Social Media Selling & the B2B Buying Process
Selling is a right place, right time kind of thing. But the decision to buy happens a lot sooner than you think, way back in the strategic planning phase of the buying process. If you wait until the acting phase, you’ve potentially waited yourself out of a sale.
Social media allows you to connect with prospects earlier in the process, before they’ve made any decisions—when you can still influence their decision.
If you have a very complicated product or service that takes a long time to sell, social media is a gift. Your prospects are looking for thought leaders, people they can communicate and partner with. Social media is the perfect way to do that. You can nurture prospects with great, relevant and engaging information until they’ve made a decision to buy your complex product or service.
Asking for the Order with Social Media
I often go out in the field and ride with our clients’ sales people to see how they work. When I bring up social media as a sales tool, their response is usually that it sounds like a lot of extra work…just another overwhelming task in an already busy day. But the truth is, there are so many simple social media things salespeople could be doing. Here are a few to consider for LinkedIn:
- Start by building your LinkedIn profile with enough information to make people want to reach out. That’s a baby step. If it just says “printing salesperson,” nobody will want to talk to you. There has to be something intriguing about your write-up…a trigger for somebody connect with you. Take a look at my profile as an example. Need help optimizing your LinkedIn profile? We offer a social media audit as part of our marketing process. We can look at where you are on social media, what it says about you and your company, and how engaging it is.
- Aim for a profile that is at least 75% complete and includes some searchable content or industry keywords.
- Consider your audience, message, offer, life cycle…how a person buys and how you can complement the buying cycle of your customers. Use solid content from your approved marketing messaging. Provide the right information (content) to the right person (audience) at the right time (close the deal).
- LinkedIn offers some very inexpensive ways to get in front of people. Instead of working the phones, work LinkedIn. Reach out and invite people to connect, then invite them to lunch, to breakfast, to a phone call…whatever you’re comfortable with. It’s just a new way to engage and message and talk to people. I know salespeople who get a lot more appointments through LinkedIn than by phone or email or any other way. Times have changed. Get on board.
- Don’t sit back and watch. LinkedIn (or any social media channel) is just like any in-person networking. Join groups and participate. Ask questions. Answer questions. If you consistently ask or answer four questions a week in groups, that’s huge.
The bottom line is, your company wants results. Results come from leads. Successful salespeople are using social media to nurture prospects, and really successful salespeople are using it to subtly ask for and then close the deal.
What other ways do you see sales people using social media effectively?