Because, if they wanted you to build relationships, social networks would encourage you to only connect to the right people, facilitate relationship building, and they would make you work to do both. Personalized invitations to connect would be a requirement rather than an option that is not even always available.
They would allow you to easily sort, organize, search, and filter your connections and your news feeds. Basic LinkedIn used to allow for most of this and Facebook and Twitter at least still have lists. However, creating and editing them is a complicated exercise on both platforms and I’m being gracious in rating these routines that highly.
It ain’t gonna’ happen
Since the value of any network is largely based on total users, this is what they are designed to build. They don’t want to make it too hard for you to join or to connect with others which is one reason why they encourage you to connect indiscriminately and with the least amount of effort. News flash …
“If it’s free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product!”
I can’t remember who said this but, as soon as I heard it, my eyes opened wide! All of the major social platforms live off of paid advertisements and what do advertisers want? Eyeballs and the more eyeballs the better. Targeted advertising requires a specific audience based on available data which, of course, would be … you.
In all fairness
All of the major networks are offering a great service and the opportunities are there if you are willing to work for them. Their free feature sets are, overall, outstanding! Since all companies need to turn a fair profit in order to stay in business, I personally have no issues with being the product. However, I do want to maximize my return.
If you want to build meaningful relationships with the right people, the ball in entirely in your court. Despite what others might covet, you have the ultimate power to chart your own course. As someone who sells direct B2B, vs. being a mass marketer, I would suggest that you may want to …
Polish your profiles – One of the major benefits of social selling is attraction but, if your profile looks like hell, you won’t attract the right people and you may attract the wrong ones. Lying with dogs will only get you fleas.
Develop your target buyer persona – It’s going to be very difficult to connect to the right people if you don’t know what they look like.
Be discriminating about who you connect with – You are not compelled to accept any invitation to connect with anyone and you should personalize your connection requests whenever, wherever, possible. And, if you can’t, find an alternate method to convey your intentions.
Cull your existing connections – You probably only recognize a small percentage of them anyway because … you previously connected indiscriminately. Match them to your target buyer persona. You will be muting unwanted noise and, hopefully, you will only have to do this once.
Contribute to the community while establishing your expertise – You have an opportunity to be a team player while demonstrating that you have the expertise to be a team leader. Educate rather than sell.
Use progressive engagement prior to requesting a formal connection – You can engage with others via taps (like, share forward) and touches (mentions, comments) before you actually request to connect and I would suggest that you do this.
Continue to engage following your connection – If you connect and then ignore, you will quickly be forgotten. It’s one thing to cull your connections but, it’s a shame to go through the process of targeted connecting only to quit prior to being able to accurately determine their potential value.
Gradually build your mutually beneficial relationships to real-life – Hint: Glowing screens, regardless of size, are not real-life.
Let your CRM work for you!
Now that your social houses are in order, you need a good CRM to manage these along with your not-so-social contacts. CRMs today have been designed to help you to build customer relationships and to sell more! Pipeliner, the nice folks who are providing this content, is certainly one that you should investigate.
There is simply so much available data, including social, that you should be keeping on your prospects and customers and to try to do so effectively without a CRM … it’s selling suicide. I grew up with shoebox tickler files and then Contact Managers and the rules really have not changed. Old rules, new tools.
CRMs are now much more sophisticated and they are continuously evolving to meet the needs of today’s social sellers and marketers. I do feel that one of the biggest mistakes that sales reps make is trying to run before learning to walk. I will guarantee you that, if you can only a few simple things with your CRM, you will sell more!
The foundation of any CRM is your contact record. All of the information that you have gathered (including social profiles) on your customers and your prospects is neatly organized and sorted by date including your activities and results. With cloud computing and mobile applications, this database travels with you … everywhere.
Within your contact record should be notes detailing any and all activities that have occurred with your clients. Just as importantly, you should document your planned next steps and set a reminder to do that. Your CRM will tell you when this task is due. Prior to completing that task, review your notes! Rinse and repeat.
While organizing social connections can be a trying task, most CRMs have some sort of tagging system that will allow you to group your contact records. You might use this for things like prospect or customer, industry, customer importance, recurring touch schedule, or all of the above. Continuous personalized engagement = relationships.
Finally, most salespeople have little to no idea of what deals they have going, their actual chances of closing the deal, when it might close, and what they have to do next in order to see that happen. It’s tough to construct an accurate forecast out of post it notes.
Your pipeline represents your sales process, milestones that any opportunity moves through toward a successful conclusion. This is another fundamental CRM function and it is awesome! Commission salespeople, in particular, have always suffered from unpredictable income. A well maintained pipeline removes those peaks and valleys.
Make no mistake
The social networks provide huge untapped opportunities for today’s smart social sellers! Your goal must be to approach these strategically and with your endgame in mind. It’s not a race and sometimes the tortoise will beat the hare.
The sheer volume of potential players and their needs for your services presents an enormous management challenge. In order to meet and conquer this, start off right with the right connections. Nurture these relationships. Manage them in your CRM. Leverage your hard work and then finish strong!