Sunday 25 September 2016

How to use social media to boost your business

Eleanor Collier

Published 03/12/2015 | 07:37

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Social media represents the most exciting channel that businesses have to stay connected and informed.

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Today’s customers want to be treated as individuals, not psychographic profiles and successful social selling hinges on authentically connecting with them across social networks, leading to lasting business relationships.

Businesses that are not currently using social media for lead generation and tapping in to social selling are missing out.  In a new white paper, commissioned by Microsoft, 55% of sales organisations surveyed by the Sales Management Association say they would be more productive if they had a larger social presence. 

It was also revealed that sales people using social media to sell, outperformed those who weren’t using social media 78.6% of the time.  Sales people using social media were 23% more successful at exceeding their quotas. 

Here are the top 3 ways to use social media to boost your business:

1.  Social Listening Will Drive Sales

The more connected that salespeople are to today's social and mobile customers, the better chance they have of establishing trust and having an honest dialogue in business.  Social doesn't replace email. Cold calls aren't dead. These tactics all have their time and place, but social media provides endless possibilities.

By including a formal social strategy in to the sales mix, social media helps businesses find prospects as they actively search for products or look for solutions.  Social enables businesses to extend what makes great sales people – connecting with customers, listening and building relationships.  Using this invaluable context and second-degree connections to reach prospects at their point of need will drive sales.

The more advanced sales teams around the world have set up social listening software to monitor keywords.  Another best practice is to provide social insights at the lead, contact and account level within the company CRM system.  The other key piece of social listening is to monitor the competition, as listening to what people are saying can showcase weak spots in their offering.  If people are dissatisfied, can your product or service pick up the slack?  Another important aspect to social listening is to have sales teams engage in conversations with prospects on social networks. 

2.  Nuture Leads with Social Insights

Mastering the use of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook as research tools allows sales people to speak credibly to a prospect’s job, industry, family, and interests.  This gives them invaluable context for conversation before they ever pick up the phone or compose an email. One of the easiest ways to reduce the social “noise” is to integrate real-time social data into the company CRM. When businesses can associate social data to a specific account or lead record, sales teams will have more productive conversations.

Content is very important when nurturing leads.  Partnering with the marketing department in pushing out high quality content will position sales people as thought leaders.  Buyers today are not satisfied with a one-dimensional sales pitch.  They are looking for trusted experts who can enable them to make a purchase decision with multifaceted research and resources.  This will really make the difference for any business.

3.  Use Social Media To Build Lasting Relationships

Today’s social networks are built on authentic, personal relationships between people, so it makes sense that overt pitches or ads don’t do well with customers on social. The best social sales people keep that in mind and show their human side on social. This enables them to build trust and rapport with their customers, so that when a risky business decision arises, they will want to do business with them.

By connecting with customers and prospects on the appropriate channels, sales people will be able to develop a rapport and respond to any key issues.  Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social networks but it is recommended that businesses do not neglect blogs, forums and digital communities also.  LinkedIn is the best option for business-to-business sales. 

Another important way for businesses to build lasting relationships on social media is to partner with customer service teams.  Nobody expects sales to become service professionals, but by creating open channels of communication the customer will get their answers.  It is a good idea for companies to actively publish examples of good customer experiences.  When posting on social media, companies will reach more of their audience when spreading content across different time zones.  Test for when you get the most traction, find out what works for your company followers and keep iterating.

As the world grows smaller and more complicated, technology plays an important role and enables individuals to drive their vision while also helping organizations to manage their end-to-end business processes. 

Every good relationship starts with conversation – and it’s not just about talking up a media storm.  The best social media relationships involve listening and responding. And like any relationship - you get out what you put in to it!

Download the complimentary Social Media e-book from Microsoft and learn how to use social media in lead generation and relationship building, all while boosting sales.

Read more about how to use social media to boost your business with this free whitepaper from Microsoft – download here. Find out more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM and start your free trial today.

Sponsored by: Microsoft

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