A LinkedIn study from November 2013 still rings true a year later. LinkedIn surveyed 968 small to medium size businesses in the USA and Canada. 61% of the companies felt social media was useful in finding new customers.
New sources of finding social customers are good for small to medium-size businesses. The success of your business outcomes focus on how you develop these new customers after you identify them. It takes more time than you socially think.
Tip 1 – There is still a disconnect for Buyers and Sellers to address. You are using social selling to identify new social customers for your business. Your customers use social media for knowledge acquisition and information gathering. Your social customers are at the front end of their buying cycle: discovery. Are you using social media for the last stage of the buying cycle: selling?
My advice: the traditional emphasis aligns your selling activities with buying activities. Two aligned processes can never intersect (unless, of course, you are selling inside a worm hole, but I digress). Become an integrated part of the buyer’s process upfront instead of remaining a social selling observer.
Tip 2 – Many SMBs, SMEs or startups use social media inconsistently. SMBs (small to medium size businesses), and SMEs (small to medium size enterprises) aren’t in social media cruise control. They focus on developing their social media presence to drive growth. Yet many SMBs and SMEs and startups take their foot off the gas pedal when social customers convert into new business. Why? When business is good, your focus is on production and throughput. When business takes a dive again, social presence is renewed. Your social customers have gone elsewhere in the meantime.
My advice: create a patient social selling strategy you and your company are consistently able to follow. The universe of social customers and Buyers do not have all of their eyeballs on their social media platforms at the same time. It takes time to reach your target audience of social customers.
Tip 3 – Begin with the social customer’s end in mind: consider what happens to them after you close the sale. What will your SMB, SME or startup do if you are 100% successful generating the hypergrowth business you are attempting to attract by social selling? What if you gave a social selling party today and everyone you invited showed up? Is your company’s infrastructure robust enough to honor everyone’s request to buy?
My advice: Overpromising via social selling and under delivering via infrastructure capacity overload can have a reverse and negative impact on your company’s uber growth. Especially if your customers tweet their dissatisfaction. Determine whether your company’s operational model can honor maximum order fulfillment before you launch your social selling campaign.
You are in a hurry to sell. Buyers remain skeptical and cautious as they pursue the right product and services solutions for their own growing businesses.
Complement each other. Partner with each other. Grow with each other.
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a management consultant and business coach. She helps startups and small-to-medium manufacturing and service companies who have difficulty with unpredictable revenue streams. For a white paper and tips on selling to skeptical buyers, click here.