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The Four Stages to Selling via Social Media

Lately I have been talking to seasoned sales professionals to understand their current techniques for getting new customers – and their use of social media as part of the sales process. Depending on the industry, social media may be THE communications channel (you get a response in tech businesses much faster from a tweet versus an email) or just emerging. But in all cases, sales reps see the value in being where their customers are.

Because social media is about the long-term cultivation of a relationship rather than a quick hit sales plug, many sales people ease social media into their sales plan. Here are the four stages I have seen for using social media for sales:

Stage 1: Establish credibility markers.

Rest assured that any prospect or referral partner is going to check you out before your first meeting. So set up your social media profiles to be customer centric. What background establishes you as an expert? What information or tips show your value in helping solve problems? What photos, or personal associations paint you as a person that would be easy to work with?

Stage 2: Research prospects, customers and referral sources.

Here you can look at the social media accounts of prospects for basic professional information but also for areas where you might find a personal connection. Do you have friends or colleagues in common? Did you live or go to school at the same place? Even referring to their recent outgoing blog posts or tweets shows that you have done your homework and are interested.

Stage 3: Stay top of mind with a light touch.

Social media can be an effective and efficient way to manage hundreds of relationships. You can set up “feeds” from the social media accounts (using tools such as NutshellMail or Hootsuite) of past customers and referral partners to monitor what they are posting or what projects they are working on.  By occasionally responding, you stay top of mind and therefore more likely to be referred or contacted for a new project.

Stage 4: Actively seek out prospects.

Here you actively listen for comments signaling dissatisfaction with a current vendor or a request for help for a current problem.  By effectively mining for questions, you can set yourself up to be the expert with the answer.

What stage are you at?  Did I miss any?

Jeanne RossommePresident, RoadMap Marketing
Jeanne uses her 20 years of marketing know-how to help small business owners reach their goals. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she held a variety of marketing positions with DuPont and General Electric. Jeanne regularly hosts online webinars and workshops in both English and Spanish. | @roadmapmarketin | More from Jeanne

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Discussion (2) Comment

  1. Shawn HerringVisitor

    The points made are insightful. I’d add Followup and Cultivate as another stage. Granted, reaching out from time to time via social media is good, but some customers are old fashion. It is important to understand and respect how your customer base does business. I have seen my client surprised when I call to address an issue instead of an email or a Facebook post.

    Followup and Cultivation of relationship makes the other things on the list easier to manage and maintain.

    • Jeanne RossommeAuthor

      Good points Shawn. Social media is often a better listening post whereas nothing replaces good old fashioned connection via phone or in person.


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