The inside sales profession is undergoing a massive shift. Once based largely upon cold calls and email, inside selling today is largely digital, and social networking has been a great enabler. Today’s inside sales rep has unrestricted access to both the Internet and professional social media networks liked LinkedIn (News - Alert). This has made it easier than ever to find targeted prospects and reach out. The danger lies in reaching out too much.
When social selling goes past the point of no return, it’s being called social spamming. It’s easy to become gung-ho with the messages, and sales professionals need to ensure they’re not overdoing it. Otherwise, it could lead to the kind of regulations that killed email marketing, according to a VanillaSoft.
“It’s very likely that some of this so-called social spamming is happening with well-intentioned but misinformed salespeople,” says Guy De La Cruz , vice president of sales at VanillaSoft. “Before mismanaged social selling leads us to the social media equivalents of Do Not Call or CAN-SPAM regulations, let’s take a little time to improve our social selling game.”
Sales managers should put some best practices into play to ensure that inside sales personnel aren’t only driving away prospects, but contributing to the kind of overkill that will take social media out of the portfolio of useful selling tools. This will include ensuring that all social media engagements are offering some value to recipients rather than wall-to-wall company promotion.
“Certainly share your company’s blog posts, videos, and webinars, but remember to focus on offering insightful status updates that include broader industry articles that appeal to the major concerns of those in the vertical you serve,” says De La Cruz. “You can craft updates around third-party content to demonstrate your knowledge and industry involvement, as well as point to the ways your brand addresses these issues.”
Before you send out a message via LinkedIn, Twitter (News - Alert), or some other vehicle, ask what value it gives to the customer. Is it insightful? Is it something new or something they’ve heard a thousand times before? Is the message fresh and well crafted? Share content that you have found valuable, and add your own touch to it.
It’s also a matter of controlling volume. You don’t need to be in your prospects’ face every day. (If you are, they’re going to unsubscribe from whatever channel you’re working through.) Limit communications to a few times a week. It’s also important to remember that social selling isn’t about getting a customer to make a purchase. It’s about building a relationship.
“Social selling should be focused on creating a relationship and adding value before asking for an appointment,” De La Cruz says. “When you take time to share thoughtful updates and trade personalized, informative, and educational messages with individuals on your social networks, you demonstrate your authentic interest in the customer’s needs.”
Ensure that your social selling program is catering to your customers’ needs, and not your own organization’s (or career’s) needs. When customers get the impression that you’re trying to help them solve their problems instead of becoming one of their problems, they’re more likely to read, share and respond to your social outreach.
Edited by Maurice Nagle