What is Social Selling? What You Should Know!

Last week, I shared how ads aren’t getting as much value for the money as content marketing because ad blocking is trending up.  This week, I want to concentrate on what you can do instead. It’s called social selling.

1. What Exactly is Social Selling?
In a nutshell, it’s just as it sounds. Selling by being social on social media. It’s posting things about your company, its process, its industry, and other related tidbits in order to stir conversation that moves the selling process along until customers are ready to buy.

2. Social Selling Statistics You Need to Know:
So many people are on social media these days. Not only do they search out products and services on social media, but many prefer to ask questions through social media.  Here are a few marketing statistics:

  • Only 29% of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product, while 62% will consult a search engine.
  • Half of revenue is influenced by social selling in 14 common industries, including computer software, healthcare, and marketing and advertising.
  • Using social selling tools can increase win rates and deal size by 5% and 35%, respectively.

3. What this Means for Your Social Media Plans
It means you’d better make some! And, you had better be available to answer the questions your social media followers have in a timely manner.

If people prefer to get their information about a product or service online first, you had better be there or your competition will be! Once you establish your social media platforms as ones that bring value and elicit trust, you will have consumers asking their questions. And just as they will unfollow a Facebook page that is not active, they will view unresponsive pages as a company that doesn’t deserve their business.

Don’t just establish a social media presence just to have one. Spend the time to give your customers value and be responsive to their questions and concerns.

 

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What the Ad Blocking Trend Means for Your Content Marketing

A couple weeks ago, I talked about why content marketing is so important for your business.  This week, I want to go into a bit of depth as to what ad blocking is telling you about your content marketing.

1. Your articles and posts should not even resemble ads!
The number one most important thing you should learn from the ad blocking trend is not to make your content marketing look like ads! Consumers are pretty savvy. They know clickbait when they see it and they can feel ads clothed in information on the information highway.  So, make sure to give your readers the valuable information or entertainment they crave without making them feel like they’re being sold!

The idea of content marketing is to give value such that the consumer trusts your company and wishes to reciprocate when it comes time to buy.  The task is to make them feel so indebted to you that they not only think of you first when they are ready to purchase but feel bad about looking anywhere else to fill their need.

2. So what do you put in there and how do you get leads?
What you write about will, of course, depend upon your audience. Do your potential customers need to know something about your industry that affects them?  Do they want to learn how to do something related to your industry? Are they looking to be entertained? See a need and fill it.  More specifically, see a “want” and fill it.   

I said this on a Facebook women’s business group and got some flack for it, but after years of being in sales and owning my own businesses, I can tell you that it’s true.  People buy what they want and not necessarily what they need.  There are those who will not buy something even though they need it and others that will buy what they want even if they can’t really afford it. 

The flack I took for that was the concept that this thinking is bad for people and takes advantage of them.  I disagree.  Taking advantage of people is almost forcing them to buy something they don’t need or can’t afford by means of trickery or deceit.  Recognizing that people will buy wants and not necessarily needs is smart business.  If you know that most people who need something won’t buy it, you probably shouldn’t sell it.  If you recognize that your customers want X with their Y, then you’d better make sure your Xs have Ys!

3. Give value!
I cannot emphasize this enough.  GIVE VALUE!  If your potential customers want to be entertained, entertain them!  If they’d appreciate knowing something, share it. If they want to be the first to have something, let them know.  Whatever it is they value that will help your company reach its goals, make sure you know about it and are actively giving it to them.  

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Does your blog need a personality?

Blah blah blah…

That’s what your customers will think when they read a dry post every once in a while whenever you get around to writing it.

Your blog is an extension of your business!  It should function as a sales rep for your company, one who takes the time to bring prospective clients the information they need until they know they need your services.

Unfortunately, most blogs (or rather, blahgs) bore the reader to tears until he clicks off your site.  To be top of mind, you need to give your customers value, so they keep coming back to your site until they know they need YOUR products.

But it’s not only the value you bring to your reader; it’s the experience they have while reading your company’s blog.  Ideally, your blog article should inform in a way that brings a smile to your reader’s face.  For that to happen, you need to give your blog a little personality.

The words you use, images you share, and stories you tell should all reflect your business and your customer’s expectations.  Here are a few examples:

1. Humor
Life can be a solemn road filled with financial issues, health problems, and loss.  Tragedy can bring doom and gloom to your customer who is looking for a reason to feel good again.  If your product/service and ideal customer works for this approach, it can be such fun!

2. Integrity
Honesty and integrity may be something lacking in your industry. Taking on this characteristic may be a fresh perspective for your blog. It can draw in customers who are tired of being treated with sleazy sales pitches and tired slogans.

3. News
Some people are looking to be the first to know. If you can deliver your industry’s news items, they’ll come back again and again.  And they’ll be more likely to share your posts to inform their friends and be counted as the first in the know.

There are many others, but you get the idea.  Pick a personality for your blog and write from that perspective.  And if you don’t have time, call me!

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Three ways your business is probably sabotaging your company’s image!

Does your business rely upon emails as a way to correspond with customers or clients? If it does, here are three ways you may be sabotaging your relationship with your customers, and you don’t even know it.

Almost all businesses use email as one of the primary ways to interact with customers.  Here are three of the most important things companies do that can destroy your company’s image or relationship with your client/customer:

1. Not reading before you answer
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sent an email off into the interwebs and was disappointed to find that the answer that came back didn’t address the issue I had raised. It was obvious that the company’s representative read only as far as the first sentence before pasting in the canned response.

Don’t be that company! Make sure to read the customer’s entire email before you answer to make sure you understand their exact problem.  It may take you more time now, but it will save your company time in the long run as well as your image and customer service reputation.

2. Not answering each question
Before you hit that send button, make sure you have answered each one of your customer’s questions.  It has become common practice to answer one or two questions and leave the customer wondering about the other two.

It takes more time in the long run for you to play email tag with your customer.  In addition to taking more time to answer two or three emails where there should have only been one, the emails will become longer and more hostile should the need arise.  Make sure you get all their questions answered the first time!

3. Not reading between the lines
Most of your customers won’t know enough to ask you the right questions.  Make sure you are reading between the lines and anticipating what your customer or client is REALLY asking.

It goes without saying that NOT ANSWERING a customer email for a long while is a huge no-no. Most customers will understand if they don’t get a reply for a day or so (or over the weekend), but please don’t make them wait a week or longer to hear from you…or you’ll be hearing from them!

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Are You Listening to Your Customers?

Have you taken the time to find out what your customers want?  How they feel about your company, product or service? Why not?

It may seem like something that would take up too much time, but it can help you avoid launching a product or service doomed to failure.  It can also help you improve a current product, service, or even your social media presence.

Here are a few ways in which you can listen to your customers in order to improve your image and then your bottom line:

1. Surveys
Put a survey out to your past customers, on social media, or blog.  Ask them about their experience with your company, the impression of your product, or issues with your service.  Use that information to better your company’s image, products, and services.  Most people love to be asked what they think and you’ll move forward knowing what worked and what didn’t.

2. Poll your employees
Ask your employees for ideas about how to better serve your customers.  Ask them what things they like about working for you and ask them what they feel could be improved.  The more involved your employees are in the process, the more valued they feel and the more loyalty they will have. Happy employees usually service your company and customers better.

3. Poll your customer service team
Your customer service reps work more directly with your customers than you do.  Ask them what they’ve heard the customers rave or complain about.

 

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Technology may be easy, but being effective isn’t!

Replying to a customer’s email is both easy and instant, but what it isn’t necessarily is EFFECTIVE!

Technology has come a long way since I was a kid.  Instead of hiring a staff of customer service agents to answer hundreds of daily phone calls, most small to medium sized businesses make use of email to handle the steady stream of inquiries and concerns.  This saves money and time, but what if often doesn’t save is customers!

Are your email replies frustrating your customers?
Many customer emails are being answered hastily and that makes for frustrated customers. Frustrated customers have a nasty habit of not hiring or buying from the companies that feed their frustrations…and they often tell others about their difficult experience!

Some emails are allowed to sit in the inbox long after the customer has decided to shop elsewhere.  Some emails are answered without having been thoroughly read and are sent out with only one of the customer’s three issues being addressed.  And many emails are poorly worded leaving the customer confused.

I’m a business owner too, so I get that you’re busy.  I’m busy too, but I’m here to tell you that, if you don’t take an appropriate amount of time to reply to customer emails, it will only cost you more time and quite possibly, your sale (or worse, your company’s reputation)!

Here are a few tips for responding to emails:
1. Take the time to read the email carefully.
Make a mental note (or write down) all the issues that need addressing and make sure you answer all the issues presented to you.

2. Read between the lines.
If you notice that the wording used suggests a misconception your customer/client might have, address that before your communication goes back and forth.  Remember, you know much more about your product/service than does your customer.

3. Take the time to proofread before hitting send.
Make sure your answers are clear.  There is nothing more frustrating than receiving a confusing email that leaves you with more questions than you had when you sent in your email.  Also make sure to check your spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  A badly written email, even if it is understood, sets a poor image in your customer’s mind.

Don’t be fooled by the ease of technology.  Taking the time to respond to your customer’s emails up front saves time in the long run.  You’ll also present a better business image to your customers!

Prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin

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