The sales game is changing and Social Media is playing an active part in it. No matter how much marketers try to control the brand reputation, due to the large amount of data about brands in social media, they are no longer able to completely control the brand. It is also difficult to differentiate from the myriad of competition out there, competing for the same customer. Marketing alone does not help boost sales. Marketing has evolved: Social Media marketing is the new age marketing. We need to evolve our strategies to better compete in today’s dynamic world.
Buyers now are more proactive in checking out a brand’s online reputation. They are checking out the customer engagement in social media portals to assess the brand. Just a glimpse of the impact this has: We found that according to a Forrester research estimate, almost 70% of the buying process is decided even before a sales representative gets involved actively in the pitch! That is, the customer has already done some research about a brand and found some information online before they even contact a sales representative. Sounds about right, don’t you think? When was the last time in recent times that you went to a new restaurant in an unknown location without any review or recommendation?
What’s the most important thing for the customer when they look for a brand online? The “likability quotient”: It’s no rocket science that it takes less than 30 seconds for a buyer to determine whether they like what they see. So it’s critical to grab the attention of the customer, impress them and make them feel comfortable with the brand in the first 30 seconds. In order to do that it is not only important for the brand to have a good web presence, but also a great social presence. A lot of people are discovering brands through social media through friend recommendations. Only if the brand captures their attention, customers will go to the website to find more information.
But just as the brand’s social presence is critical, so is the sales rep’s social media presence as they are brand ambassadors of your company. Once a customer contacts a brand and gets in touch with a sales representative, they could just look them up on social media to check out their credentials. You know that the customer is serious when they are looking you up on LinkedIn while talking to you! But does your sales team know that customers do this? In order to help them understand the value of social media, sales reps should be engaged in social media training. Getting the basics right, like a profile on LinkedIn, sharing opinions on blogs and commentaries, can be a good start. First impression has to be the best indeed.
What else do customers find online on Social Media about brands? Reviews and complaints; It is important to make sure that you are seen as a brand who cares about customers. Although you cannot contain the number of complaints, if there are too many complaints and not many responses to them, it will seem like the brand doesn’t care. Make sure that you satisfy customers on social media as much as possible. Also customer testimonials on can greatly affect the confidence of the potential customers. Good customer testimonials can greatly affect the number of leads and more importantly the quality of leads coming in.
Another great use is to get to know your customer: Knowing your customer is important and even more important is to know their behavior. It’s not necessary for your potential customers to be promoting their discussions on Facebook and Twitter only. There may be other forums and networks which may be relevant for their vertical of work. Knowing the platforms where the potential buyers interact can be critical in understanding what influences their buying behavior! This can lead to great insights about your product/services which can be addressed in the future. All the data which is gathered through the endeavors in the social media platforms can be used effectively in any campaign which you may want to run for your company to find new customers as well. Imagine you know all about your ideal customer’s behavior, and all you have to do now is make them aware of your presence.
Engage with your existing customers on social media. It is always cheaper for a company to engage with their existing customers rather than engaging new customers. Appreciating customer’s messages and engaging with them can play a critical role in the repeat sales process. Retweeting new acquisitions of your greatest prospect brings a smile on their face! It also increases the chance of repeat sales and presents a good image to potential future customers.
The sales and the social media team in any company can collaborate to also identify the top decision makers in the industry and target them. Just like customers research brands, you can research customers and find out their values, interests etc. with which you can offer better services/products which only makes the pitch easier by decreasing the overall lead time in the sales cycle.
It’s time we take sales to the next level by using customer centric information, as refining and identifying your target audience has never been easier before. All thanks to Social Media!