Selling has always revolved around relationships. The best sales pros in the business understand the important role relationships play in sales success, especially in social selling. In fact, more than 90% of the top sales professionals believe that their relationships are the number one contributor of their success.
The question then becomes, how can you make relationships that last? The best professional relationships aren’t those that last for a day, the best relationships last for years to come. It’s these relationships that help careers turn into great ones and help opportunities turn into successes. Maintaining and establishing long term relationships can be a key differentiator between the top sales professionals and the rest of the pack.
Here are four ways the best social sellers in the game maintain lasting relationships with prospects and customers.
1. They put the relationship before the sale
Some of the greatest sales people have always been social, even before social media.
One of the greatest names in advertising history, David Ogilvy, began his career in sales. A British advertising executive who was widely hailed as the “Father of Advertising” started out selling cooking stoves door-to-door. It turned out he was fantastic at it. So good even that he was asked by the company for the secret to his success so that they could train others to be as good as he. Ogilvy famously said:
“The worst fault a salesman can commit is to be a bore. Foster any attempt to talk about other things; the longer you stay the better you get to know the prospect, and the more you will be trusted.”
It was then, in 1935, that we all knew the secret to sales success – we must build trusted relationships. Nearly 80 years later social sellers are living and breathing this mantra every day. The best social sellers use social media to build lasting relationships with clients and prospects simply because they know it’s the most important element in the sales process. The first step to maintaining strong lasting relationships is to make the relationship your priority.
2. They collect and use social intelligence
Social media gives sales professionals an intimate view of prospects and customers. The best social sellers use this data to know exactly who they’re selling to. Their customer profiles are more detailed than many people’s personal resumes. They know the buyer’s favourite restaurant, hobbies and past times, pet peeves and vacation plans. They also know their relationship status, fashion sense, whether they rent or own their residence, what they do for a living, their professional pains and their biggest dreams.
Social selling pros use social data to craft buyer personas that give them the advantage they need to make strong introductions and meaningfully engage with prospects. These insights give sales pros the personal and contextual information they need to develop and nurture their customer relationships.
3. They offer value
Great social sellers maintain relationships by constantly providing value to their customers. Their immediate goal is not to sell, but instead to offer value. This is best achieved when tailored to specific customer needs. For example, if your customer tweets that they’re looking to launch an email campaign but are struggling to find information on dimensions. You can search the web for that content and send it to them via email. Further, if it’s something that lines up with your brands story, you could inform your marketing team develop this type of content for distribution.
Perhaps a prospect has posted that they’re having issues with their website. Offering value can be as simple as directing them to blog post that can help them solve the problem, sending them a free e-book that is filled with website strategies, or introduce them to someone in your own network that could help.
Offering value beyond the product or service you sell directly, helps sales professionals build trust and credibly with prospects and clients, and shines light on your brand’s personality. Inserting humanity into your company’s brand is what turns boring social interactions into loyal lasting relationships.
Whether free content, free contacts, market insights or gifts, offering value is best achieved when you truly understand what your value proposition is and align it to your customers’ specific needs and wants.
4. They constantly connect
While most people understand that social media is about connecting with people, the best social sellers…well, they do it better. They connect with everyone, and connect people to other people. They remain connected through the entire sales funnel, from prospecting to lead nurturing, to sales, and retention. They follow up and keep their finger on the pulse of opportunity.
The masters of social selling keep relationships alive by remaining at the top of others’ minds. They are consistently sharing relevant and meaningful content on social media and checking in with prospects and customers regularly. They understand that while relationships might spark on social media, they often thrive in person so they make the time to meet face to face to keep the fire burning.
Long-term relationships take work, there’s no denying it. The best social sellers make it work for them. They use tools like Twitter lists, Hootsuite, CRM software and Introhive to make social selling real. They manage their relationships with attention to detail, reminders, automatic alerts, and scheduling assistants. It’s a process but they know, like we know, that it works.