It's exciting to see so many professionals starting to embrace social selling to drive success. But I can't keep from cringing when I see people abusing social media in an attempt to make a sale. Sometimes these attempts lead to failure before they even send their first tweet, request their first intro, or write their first blog post.
But failure needn't be the end result of your social selling efforts. In fact, one piece of the puzzle that is often overlooked is the time in which certain strategies work better than others. The peak season for business-to-business online leads, primarily January and February, is very different from the slow season. As such, the efforts and tactics you implement should differ accordingly.
During peak season, budgets are plentiful and buyers are anxious to identify new opportunities to drive results for their business. They're also looking for ways to be innovative, take chances, and do things that will improve the way they conduct business. This is the time for sellers to deliver information that intrigues buyers and captivates their interest.
Following are four ways to do that:
Distribute quality content. One approach to building intrigue and interest is to develop and distribute quality content. Work closely with your marketing team to identify the need for e-books, white papers, research, and reports that would be of interest to your target audience. Once your team has developed this content, distribute it to quality leads and potential prospects to build credibility and excitement around what you offer and how you can help them achieve their goals.
This strategy doesn't only have to be implemented during the peak season. It can be used afterward to nurture those leads who put off their decision and are beginning to go cold. You can use this content to follow up with them a few weeks after the initial contact and suggest that you're sharing this material because you thought it would be of interest. This builds the bond, strengthens the relationship, and increases the chance of closing the deal down the road.
Leverage social selling technology. Another approach to employ during peak season is leveraging social selling technologies to see where opportunities exist. Social selling software can give you the opportunity to understand all the activity and relationships impacting strategic accounts throughout your organization. Such tools provide the ability to identify hidden opportunities in which team members are building stronger relationships with clients and recognize an opportunity to sell more product.
Reconnect with weak ties. Many people underestimate the power of a network that they haven't engaged in some time. In actuality, studies have shown that your weak ties just may be the most valuable relationships you have, as the people who are closest to you are less likely to give you new opportunities or insight. Weaker ties have a different network.
When it's not peak season, nurturing the relationships with weak ties is an excellent social selling strategy. As you strengthen these relationships, they will be likely to introduce you to new opportunities and give you insight as to how you can serve someone they know.
Follow long-term prospects on Twitter. Relationships aren't made overnight. You need to make an effort to build them, and Twitter is a great tool to do just that.
Start following prospects within your local area or specific industry. Search these prospects’ news feeds and see what conversations they’re having. As you identify these conversations, you may find people who need what you’re offering or someone with a similar interest. Striking up conversations that are relevant and nonthreatening is a great way to kick start relationships.
Follow people and companies. Talk to them. Talk to them again a few days later. Ask thoughtful questions. Be conversational and don't be afraid to discuss things that are not business focused. This will begin to create comfort and familiarity and establish an authentic relationship. It's important to use Twitter to show the human side of your business.
These are just some of the many strategies you can take to address peak season for your sales cycle and downtimes for your industry. It's important to track and monitor the productivity and activity of your sales team at all times. Many sales professionals and organizations think it's all about customer acquisition, but it's also important to retain those customers. These strategies will help you accomplish both.
Rob Begg is the chief marketing officer at Introhive. Previously, he was vice president of product marketing for Salesforce's Marketing Cloud, following Salesforce's acquisition of Radian6, where he and his team created B2B marketing programs.