Integrating Social Media into Sales

originally posted on Concept Hub

The past several weeks many different people have tried to tell me that social media is great for brand awareness, but not for sales.

Again and again I want to stress that social media can be effective for any objective that requires insight into your audience as well as a way to communicate to your audience, and that definitely includes sales.

Below are examples of how social media can be integrated into the sales process to amplify results.

Direct Sales:

Direct Selling is person-to-person through distributors, representatives, consultants or various other titles.

Listen to the buzz on the web to know where you need to be.

Think of twitter as all about who you are following in a direct sales situation. Perhaps you are a sales representative for a lighting manufacturer and you follow all the designers and architects in the area. When someone posts something like:

You have learned that Truman is looking at lighting accessories, what he is in the market for and who he is looking at. Time to make a call to Truman.

For other ideas related to direct sales and social media, check out this blog.

Consultative Selling:

In consultative selling the sales person first assist the customer in identifying their needs and then walks them through a customized solution.

I have been involved in consultative sales my entire career. I started as an IT recruiter during the late 90’s which took a lot of creative thinking and consultation to make the right matches for everyone involved. Most recruiters are taking the lead in leveraging Linkedin and Twitter to gain insights into their clients and prospects activities as well as stay top of mind by participating in online conversations.

Again, listening to these channels as well as others throughout the web is a great way to find a problem that needs solving. I also highly recommend signing up for Gist.com which will track online activity for all of your contacts in a easy to use dashboard.

 

Complex Sales:

Typically complex sales are long processes where the client/consumer is heavily involved in research and knowledge gathering. Whereas I have been stressing the value of listening and conversing during direct and consultative sales, if your company is involved in complex sales it is in your best interest to have lots of information online for your customers to find. Complex sales experiences can be enhanced by inviting your prospects into a user-community where they can converse with your existing clients, not to mention  the value of your prospects finding that your thought leadership through blogs, twitter, and Q&A sites is highly referred to and respected by many people throughout the web.

A great blog to read to gain insights about integrating social media into complex sales is Spatially Relevant from Jon Gatrell, Product Manager/ Marketer who has more than once changed the way businesses engage with clients.

Transaction Sales:

Transactions Sales is just about being the right product or service at the right time and in the right place for the right price..or is it?

Pizza would qualify as a transaction sale. It is not complex, does not require consultation, or any type of sales pitch.

Last week, Domino’s reported a 29% increase in sales in the UK which they credit their online efforts and loyalty programs that have been positioned through FourSquare.

Sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Scoutmob are driving drastic increases in sales. I purchased a  Groupon for a spa that I had never heard of before. When I called to schedule my appointment I learned that their Groupon promotion was such a success they were completely booked until September.

For more great case studies of social media and sales check out this Tech Crunch Article.

Retail Sales:

Retail Sales is an interesting mix of consultative selling (what dress should I wear to my 20 year reunion?) and transaction selling which requires driving people in the door.

For retail sales there are some really interesting trends in social commerce which enables customers to interact with their social group about their buying decisions.

Check out this video and imagine the stream of this young girls experience going to her Facebook friends.

Perhaps she can post pictures of herself in each dress and ask her friends to vote for which one they like through the Facebook “like” button. Perhaps her page will resemble the Levi’s jeans page.

As more and more of her friends interact with her during her shopping experience they will be exposed to new products and brands and will begin sharing the information of what they like to their friends, and so on and so on.

There are already many examples of social media amplifying the sales all you have to do is open your mind to new ideas and new ways to connect with your customers.