Over the years, as sales and marketing has become more automated, it’s become increasingly important for salespeople to differentiate themselves from others and to provide value throughout the sales process. With control of the sales process having shifted from sellers to buyers, the B2B buyer now holds the cards, and does approximately 60% of his or her research before ever feeling the need to contact a salesperson.
Some of the ways that a salesperson can provide value throughout the sales process is by being seen as a thought leader and credible member of the industry that they are a part of. Social media has come to play a big part in establishing yourself as an expert in your field and having your profile elevated.
Here are three ways that salespeople can stand out using social media:
1. Create a Personal Brand
Establishing yourself as an expert in your field and starting to publish content to a blog or to social media lets your prospects and everyone else in the industry know that you have your finger on the pulse of upcoming trends and that you understand the implications they have for your industry.
Doing so starts with determining which platforms you should be on and then going about setting up professional profiles on these networks. The last thing you want to do when getting started with social media is to open a number of social media accounts and publish to them with incomplete information. It’s okay to take some time and make sure your profiles are set up professionally before making them public. Take your time and make them look good, or risk damaging your professional reputation. (For instance, if you have the “egg” profile picture on Twitter. . . stop reading this blog post and go change that!) Something little like not having a profile picture sends a message to others that either a) you are not a real person b) you don’t know what you are doing or, worse yet, c) you are inexperienced and doing a poor job with setting up your social media profiles.
After you have set yourself up on specific social media networks, you need to establish a personality.
2. Establish Your Own Personality
One of the basic premises of content creation is that it should reflect who you are—the platforms you choose should as well. If you don’t like Twitter, for whatever reason, and don’t ever think you will want to Tweet, then by all means, don’t get on Twitter. It’s important that you find the platform that you feel most comfortable with and go with that. If you enjoy making videos and talking more than writing, maybe you could be the next important YouTube personality. If you like to write, then maybe having a regularly updated blog is better for you. Regardless of what you decide on, make sure it’s genuine and reflects your true personality. Have fun with it and joke around if you feel that’s what your audience is looking for, or be serious and take a professional tone if that’s more your personality.
One thing to note here is that to some degree you want to go where your prospects are and where others in your industry are participating. For The Center for Sales Strategy, we blog and post frequently to LinkedIn because that’s where we determined our target personas would expect to find us. However, the contrarian in me does believe that you can own a social network that not many of your prospects are on (big fish, little pond) vs. being just another voice in a crowd on a network where everyone is (little fish, big pond).
3. Create Deep Connections
To truly be successful and stand out from other salespeople in your industry, it’s important to not be focused on merely trying to get more followers on the social media networks you are active on. By simply concentrating on increasing your followers, you are possibly missing out on creating deeper connections that can be gained by learning more about your current followers and having conversations with them.
How do you create deeper connections? By looking for opportunities to engage with your followers, you can start to create deeper connections and convert “online connections” to “real world” connections. A great example of how to do this involves networking at conferences. If you are heading to a conference and want to connect with others sharing the same interest, ask your followers on your social networks who else is going to that conference. What are they looking to get out of it and what are they most excited about? Start a dialogue about it, and if things develop a little more, arrange to have a “meet up” where you can get together in person and meet members of your network in person.
Even if you are in a crowded space (little fish in a big pond), by creating these genuine connections you can benefit much more than by just being noise in a crowded room.
Hopefully these tips will help you with choosing the right social networks for your personality and give you some ideas on how to create deeper connections with your contacts. After all, people do business with people they know and like. So let’s get started with getting more people to know and like you!