In the recent past, social selling has turned traditional marketing efforts upside down. Although it is a highly misunderstood sales strategy, it is nonetheless, a highly effective method. As all good sales professionals know, achieving success in sales is about building relationships. Social selling epitomizes that. So, is it as easy as simply following a herd of consumers and bombarding them with all of your irresistible deals? Certainly not. That is more like cold-calling which is the exact opposite of social selling.

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What is social selling?

Social selling is the use of social media to identify important demographics and cultivate relationships with them. Think of social media as your ear in the info sphere. By actively listening, you can engage with potential customers in an authentic manner. For example, let’s say you’re a new real estate agent cruising the FSBO (for sale by owner) hashtag on Twitter. Instead of diving right in with the reasons a homeowner should use an agent, offer some tips on how they can succeed at selling their home on their own.

Why on earth would you give away trade secrets?

It’s simple. You are authentically engaging with a potential client who probably knows several other potential clients. By relating to them, and being generous with a pro tip or two, you are providing a solution to their problem, which establishes trust. Guess who that person is going to call when they realize that they do in fact need a professional agent? You. They will remember that you helped them and didn’t pressure them for a listing; which is pretty contrary to the modern public perception of real estate professionals.

Engaging with your target demographics doesn’t always have to be about giving it all away. Creating and growing a relevant community around your brand or product is a great way to establish social relationships. Marketing experts and anthropologists state that “consumer tribes are groups of people that experience camaraderie over shared loyalty to a brand, product, or business.” Fostering this type of loyalty by inviting them to share experiences and rewarding active members in the community will go a long way toward increasing their engagement with, as well as trust in you. This gives your target demographics a genuine sense of identity and personal investment, therefore increasing the desire to support you or your product.

Why is it so important to sell socially?

In a word? Millennials. By 2018, this misunderstood and incorrectly labeled generation (born between 1980 and 2000) will outspend the highly coveted Baby Boomers. According to Oracle Financial Services, the younger group will be shelling out some $3.4 trillion, and won’t be nearly as conservative with their budgets as the older group will be.

And with this tech savvy group (not that Baby Boomers aren’t), if you don’t have a social media presence, you are completely irrelevant and will never be considered for business. And it doesn’t stop there. That whole idea about engaging with consumers and providing solutions to their problems? Certainly not a new concept, but definitely a modern twist from the Millennials. They want to be heard, and really don’t care to hear your pitch. Remember, this group hates commercials. The reason they consume the majority of their information on mobile devices is because they aren’t as easily accessible by traditional advertisers. Millennials go out of their way to avoid such marketing and would instead prefer useful information, heartfelt stories, and a down-to-earth approach.

Conclusion

While social selling can be a bit intimidating to those used to more traditional methods, it is incredibly effective. This method not only boosts consumer relationships, but takes the pain out of colder versions of prospecting and provides a more accurately-targeted pipeline. Understanding how to engage, and who you’re likely to be engaging with, is key.

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