Nov11

What Is Social Selling?

Posted by Madeleine Bruce

Madeleine Bruce looks at how global conversation could be the key to conversions in a who, what, when, where and why of social selling.

What is social selling?

Trade makes the world go round. If you were to follow the sun around the world, you’d see that humanity the world over speaks one universal language: the language of buying and selling.

We’re social beings. Our lives are made of great conversations; the science of social interaction has been studied far and wide across many platforms. When the word “social” is heard nowadays, we expect it to be followed by “media” as the digital boom has slowly digitized our conversations. Here lies the great misconception of social selling… While, yes, social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can indeed account for a portion of social revenue, it’s in the conversation and interaction taking place outside of the sale itself that defines social selling, and it’s time your business got on board…

Where does social selling come from?

The buying process is evolving. The bond between business and customer is stronger than ever thanks to the Internet and the subsequent social connections it has forged across the globe. With change comes reaction, hence selling strategy has evolved: social media within the business mainly focuses on marketing, and now social selling is working with that marketing, following it through to the point of sale and interacting with the customer on a personal level so as to cement an informal bond.

Research conducted this year by OgilvyOne shows that 71% of salespeople believe their role will be radically different in five years time. The rise of social selling is introducing true emotion into business, building relationships between business and customer (or indeed business and business) based on a shared understanding of the experience of both buying and selling. The role of the salesperson is set to become more focused upon the building of long-lasting relationships as we continue forward.

Why do you need to use social selling?

Any savvy business person will know how important connections are, both internal and outward facing. The connection you have with your customers can build or break your biz. All selling has always been social; the digital revolution has just brought it into the 21st century.

Although your website is a great place for clients to interact with your business, increasingly the demands of the consumer for complete and genuine social conversation from a business have led to the incline in social selling. In fact, your website may be the last place a potential client will consult when considering a purchase. Social media sites are seen as more personal, and online forums allow for open conversation.

Outside the web-o-sphere there is much opportunity for social selling. A prime example of this was found by researchers from the University of British Columbia who found that incidental similarities between buyer and seller increase the likelihood of a purchase due to a feeling of connection and shared beliefs. Researchers found that consumer giants such as Disney and Hilton hotels have cottoned on to this: all employees with both brands wear name tags which display their home towns so as to encourage interaction from customers. Disney in particular employ seasonal workers from the world over so park visitors may find someone to relate to and ‘bond’ with, increasing the likelihood of purchase.

How can you start social selling?

Finding out all about your customers has never been easier. In order to connect with them on a personal level it’s important that you have an approachable customer interface. Invest in your social strategy; make your Tweets a mixture of business-focused posts and general chit-chat – it’s the latter that will get people engaging!

Discovering more about your customers can be easily achieved. Although response rates may not be high, compiling a quick and simple questionnaire could help you gather some insight into who is on the other end of your business. Keep questions short and sweet, with multiple choice answers. The less effort you’re asking for, the more likely you are to get a response.

Improve your customer service! It’s no secret that people are tired of an automated system or of speaking to someone who can’t relate to their issue. Try to fill all customer-facing positions with people who find it easy to interact with and understand the customer. The science of social selling says this will increase revenue.

Take some social tips from our Twitter feed, @UK2

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