Forget for one moment your phone and email. Imagine that today you have no meetings with customers or colleagues. Don’t put your feet up though… because despite these somewhat unusual circumstances, you’re still communicating more than ever. Your company’s various social profiles are continuing to project your image – and provide insight into the work that lies behind it.

Social networks (whether Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+) are ideal platforms for building a strong, professional brand and demonstrating the quality of your service. They are also an excellent way of listening to what your target market is looking for, putting you in a great position to provide that solution before your competitors do.

Phone calls, emails and meetings will always be there. Which is why social selling will not replace traditional sales. It is, however, a necessary step on the path to greater productivity, helping you add value and stand out in the marketplace. By becoming a good storyteller and listener, you’ll build lasting relationships and nurture new customers.

Thanks to social media we can listen, show our target customer we’re committed, and significantly improve internal cooperation. Sales and marketing teams are now more organised thanks to this new window of communication. It’s much easier to identify interests and buying habits, cold calls are more successful thanks to prior research into the buyer persona, and personalised emails are near perfect. You can pre-empt complaints, and the hyper-connectivity of social networks mean your targeted messages have almost instant impact.

Analysing the optimum way to use social media is not just a job for your community manager. It’s a team effort that requires proactivity, and application of the 3 C’s of social selling: Context, Content and Connections.

Context: Each social network is designed for a different type of business relationship with your target market.

LinkedIn, for example, is the most formal network. It enables you to create debates between experts on specific subjects, build your own database of contacts, and publish job ads. Twitter, on the other hand, is key for communicating simple, direct messages. Facebook fans can see, comment on and share albums of product images (visual engagement being essential for any brand). Video tutorials on YouTube – easy to understand and fun to watch – are a great way of finding out information, while Google+ helps you achieve optimum positioning of your content in its search engine.

Select those that help you personalise your sales message and provide a social-based after-sales service. Remember to redirect and resolve any complaints via a private message. It’s essential to protect the image of your public profile by avoiding conflicts and trolls (people who set out to damage your reputation with negative, inflammatory messages).

Content: Your buyer personas want specific solutions that meet their interests and needs. To draw these people to your website you need to create and disseminate high value content on relevant themes. Carry out a keyword search and monitor what’s being talked about in the social networks. Use your blog to publish interesting news, articles, videos and ebooks that people are likely to read – and share.

Connections: These are interactions you generate with prospects, influencers, and other players in your sector. If you’ve built a good social context and generated great content, you’ll be positioning yourself as a reference in your sector. We live in the Knowledge Age: be open to cooperate and contribute. Only then will you attract more qualified traffic and increase your social connections.

Social CRM

A strategy based on numerous flows of information, 24 hours a day… You need technology to record the data that will help you focus your business development. Achieving a possible social client + social networks + CRM (essential for sales forces) requires working with a Social CRM – the only way to gain a 360º view of your consumers.

CRM technology goes beyond what’s being said in social media about your brand and products/services. It includes contact information, a record of communication, newsletters, web-user behaviour and email interactions.

In the words of Paul Greenberg, Social CRM expert, “Social CRM is a philosophy and business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It’s the company’s programmatic response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

Two-way, personalised conversations improve the quality of your service and sales management. Social selling is not something that’s going to happen down the line – it’s happening right now.

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