Your customer knows your product better than you do. Does that comfort or concern you? In 2016, the customer has more knowledge at their fingertips than ever before. And, with this new found understanding the era of the trusted advisor is born.
How is social selling displacing the traditional sales process? Why is understanding your customer and their individual needs no longer the advantage but the norm? A stat from Eric Qualman helps to clarify. It tells us 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, and only 13% of consumers trust advertising. There is an undeniable shift to personal interaction above brand interaction. With this in mind how, then, should you engage with your customers, understand your customers, and make sure you - personally - become their trusted advisor?
The concept of trusted advisor stems from an understanding that the 2016 customer is better informed, better engaged, and can leverage a wide scope of social channels to determine when and how they will spend their money.
How to become a Trusted Advisor
First of all, the trusted advisor doesn’t sell a product. Well not at least in the traditional sense of selling. The trusted advisor understands their customer, ensures they make the right decision for them, irrespective of whether that includes recommending a product or service that’s yours, and above all takes that customer on a journey in which they have an opportunity to develop a relationship with your brand. This type of loyalty can only be achieved through honesty, integrity and mutual understanding.
A recent eBook ‘How to be your own marketer’ reveals the salesperson has become their own marketer. As a salesperson, leaving it all to marketing is no longer an option - the lines are blurring. Which means that an ability to leverage great resources quickly can be the thing that diversifies you from your competitors.
What to do to become a Social Seller
Email is a great start - are you surprised to hear that? Your ability to not only create eye grabbing emails, but also ensure the content is relevant and engaging moves mountains in getting the attention of your intended target. The subject line is a key factor. Does it grab the attention of the reader like a newspaper headline? Or, does it focus on your business and products in self congratulating show of “look how amazing I am?” Let me give you a hint - the latter doesn’t go down well.
With today’s digitally-engaged customer receiving multiple emails a day, your ability to appeal to them and their needs above spruiking your strengths is what is going to differentiate you. But, it’s hard! We are conditioned to talk about ourselves and what we do well, right?
Your subject line needs to be concise, relevant and present genuine value (another tip - your customers can’t be fooled). So you need to ask yourself the question, ‘why would I read this email?’ ‘Why would I click on this headline above today’s business news?’ If your subject line doesn’t provide that answer, chances are your customer feels the same way.
In fact there are four simple steps to writing a great email that engages your customer, and they are as follows:
1. Focus on the recipient
2. Present value
3. Craft your message, and finally, this is important
4. Be human
Understand that your customer is a person too, and they have very different interests to your last customer. They want to be wowed, they want to feel appreciated, and most importantly they want you to be someone they can trust - not someone that wastes their time.
So, how can you Build your Brand Image?
Who are you to the customer, and why should they trust you? Selling your product/ service, can be a lot easier if you yourself are a thought leader, an experienced individual to your respective industry. But, how or why would a customer know this about you? Social Media. A customer can tell a lot about you through your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook presence. They can gain a fast understanding of your brand, your experience, and your general persona. If you want to engage with sales prospects that spend their time on social media - and they all invariably do - you need to show up on social media yourself. It’s well worth spending time and attention on cultivating your social media personality through the content you share, your opinions, and the content you create.
Your LinkedIn is no longer just a digital resume
Your LinkedIn is a platform to display your passion, your expertise, your journey. Equally, which articles have you shared lately? What philanthropic experiences have you had? What’s important to you as a person? You are now your own public relations manager and LinkedIn is your opportunity to promote yourself.
With your personal brand established, and a new ability to focus your energy to targeted social selling, the next step is to leverage social channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with your potential customers. To become a trusted advisor.
A Call to Arms
You’ve established a strong personal brand for yourself on social media, and developed a plan to engage customers across multiple social channels, now is time to take up your new found expertise, and engage like never before.
Timing is a key factor, and depending on the channel, your footprint will be vastly different. Ensure you understand peak times on each respective channel and get moving.
Next, decide on your target customers, observe their conversation - what are they posting on, what do they care about? You can quickly create trusted advisor status by joining in with valuable information, tips, and knowledge that you have within your expertise. Be selfless - the information you share should be an unconditional gift.
Continuity is the key - continue to share information within your niche. Finally, engage your customers at the right time. Ask questions, your customer will feel appreciated knowing you’re interested in them and their brand. Offer more personalised - versus general - value information.
Whilst you’re not targeting specific prospects in your CRM database, but looking for net new ones? Social media can be a noisy place. But, an easy way to get started is to turn to keyword searches. Which keywords apply to the persona you are targeting? Are there conversation hashtags that you could search on Twitter and Instagram to help you hone in on your desired target audience?
On LinkedIn make sure you are participating in the right groups, that apply to your area of sales. Also consider investing in tools like Sales Navigator, designed to facilitate sales connections and hand you leads on a plate (remember, you still need to nurture those engagements).
The world of social media, is complex, ever changing and unforgiving, but with the strategies and tools, and the right focus, your business can become a trusted advisor on social channels and you can enjoy a whole new world of connection. Learn more by clicking on this eBook.