The world of sales has always been about relationships and networking. However, in today’s world of smart phones, tablets, and Wi-Fi there has been a major paradigm shift. In the old days (the 1990’s), sales leads and prospects came from your network of friends and associates. This usually happened through word of mouth. Think back to the not so distant past, and you can most likely remember buying a car or ever a home through a friend of a friend. To be completely honest, this still hold true today. But, the way in which we network has changed, and so to must the way in which we find potential buyers (prospects).
To understand what social selling is we must first explore what social networking is. The short answer to that question; social networking is how people in today’s world connect, collaborate, share information, explore common interests, keep in contact, or even find a mate. The difference is, not only can you connect with your friends; you can connect with your friend’s friends, and so on.
In sales we used what is known as The Sales Process. The sales process is a multi-step process that is used to move a person from a lead all the way through to a buyer or customer. There are many different versions of the sales process, each one tailored by the person using it. The sales process I use includes; prospecting and lead generation, follow-up, interviewing and presenting, addressing concerns or objections, asking for commitment, and maintaining the relationship. Maintaining the relationship is also known as service after the sale. The two key points of the sales process when using social media are prospecting and lead generation, and maintaining the relationship.
Prospecting and lead generation are simply finding potential buyers for a specific product or service. In order to find a prospect that has a good chance of converting to a buyer, you have to qualify the prospect. Qualifying a prospect simply means finding out if the prospect has a need for your product or service. Jim Keenan in Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy says, “A lead today can be a complaint on Twitter, a question on LinkedIn, or a discussion on a Facebook page.” (pg 91) A good example of this in social selling would be, you see a friend of a friend posted on Twitter about how much she hates her neighborhood and would like to move to a more rural area. You, being a real estate agent, know of some good properties just outside the city. You make initial contact, and confirm she has a need for your service then you set an appointment. You’ve just gained yourself a prospect that has a good chance of converting to a customer.
Another key to using social media for prospecting and lead generations is having a large network. If you only have a couple of friend in your network, then your organic outreach will be very small. Think of your social network as a spider’s web with you in the middle. Now think of your friends as the next ring in the web. The...