Social Selling...or Social Time Wasting?
Unless you've lived under a rock for several years, you know that SOCIAL is the new way to sell. But does it work in staffing? Or is social media really just a great way to avoid making calls?
The Case AGAINST Social Media
Social media can be a great time suck. It's easy to spend hours doing little more than reading status updates, sharing pictures of what you had for lunch, and talking directly to NO ONE. If you're in staffing sales...or any sales, social media can easily be an effective way to avoid actually selling.
One of the challenges with social selling is that social media is not intended to be a sales tool. And people that attempt to use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as a platform for blatant promotion will get little response...or worse, they will damage their personal reputation and the reputation of their firm.
So does this mean social media is a waste of time for staffing sales reps?
Hardly! But like any sales activity, you need a plan...and sales people have to be actively managed.
Making Social Selling Work
I just read a great blog post that offered a simple formula for social selling:
Social Selling = Content + Social + Personal Branding
It's really that simple. Social selling is about making connections, nurturing relationships, positioning yourself (and your firm) as a specialist at solving specific types of problems, and keeping yourself top-of-mind (in a positive manner).
Let's examine that formula further.
Content is information you can share. It can be a blog post, video, eBook, article, slidedeck, infographic...or anything else your clients and prospects will find interesting.
Ideally, your content will be stored on your company website, so that when you share it, you are driving people from a social site back to your company website. Even more ideally, your website will contain landing pages where you can use content to capture sales leads. Want to see an example of this? Look at the Idea Lab on our website.
For a staffing sales rep, your job is to find great content...information that addresses the top problems and interests of your target clients. Hopefully, your company has made a commitment to content marketing, and you don't have to look further than your blog or resource pages to find this content. But even if your company doesn't have anything to share, you can find great ideas by reading LinkedIn Today or subscribing to RSS feeds from blogs and publications where your industry thought leaders hang out. At Haley Marketing, we follow more than 20 top HR bloggers to keep tabs on trends and issues in HR and staffing.
Social media is about networking. As a sales professional, you have two roles with social media:
Every staffing sales professional should have a daily goal to grow their connections on LinkedIn by at least a few new contacts. Depending on the niche market you serve, and where you are located, you may also have a goal to follow more people on Twitter, and add more friends on Facebook. With social media, the bigger your network, the greater your influence will become.
Every staffing sales professional should also spend 15 to 30 minutes a day sharing content with their personal network. This can be done via status updates, posting links in groups, adding content to your company Facebook page, and direct messaging on both LinkedIn and Twitter. Personally, I love to use the "Share This" tool on our company blog to share posts to multiple LinkedIn groups at one time.
When sharing content, resist the urge to sell. Nurturing relationships is about adding value. It's about positioning yourself as an expert. A problem solver. Or just someone who is very interested in the issues your clients and prospects care about. The more regularly you share useful content, the more quickly people will come to see you as a trusted resource. And people want to do business with people they trust.
The blog post I shared earlier offers a great definition of personal branding. But essentially, it's about developing your own unique voice in social media. It's about positioning yourself through the combination of the information you share and how you share it.
Just like your company brand, you want your personal brand to be distinctive. One way is to offer strong opinions with the content you share. Another is to find really innovative content to share. Another is by using humor. Or telling stories. Or incorporating distinctive pictures (of yourself or the content you share). The idea of personal branding is to do something to make yourself stand out.
Personally, I like to use a combination of bold headlines and practical how-to advice in my personal branding (so I really hope you are getting value out of this post). My brand is about marketing ideas. Your brand could be about a specific type of information, industry expertise, or just having a "bigger-than-life" persona. The key is to develop a personal brand that is distinctive and authentic (never try to be something you are not in social media).
The Key to Social Selling Success
As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of social selling. Nearly one-third of our sales leads come in as a result of our social selling efforts. But the key for our business...and yours...is to have a strategy. You need a strategy for developing the right content. You need a strategy for making the right connections with clients, prospects and industry influencers. You need a strategy for your sales team--or more accurately, a road map--that shows your team what to do, when to do it, and how to invest time wisely on social media. And you need to manage your sales team's activities, so they are doing the right things...and not wasting time.