Customer research used to be a time-consuming task for salespeople. If you spend your time stalking instead of talking, you’re behind the times (and you’re probably falling behind on your sales quotas too).

Relying on company news feeds to provide customer intelligence is so last year. In fact, if you’ve decided to move away from cold calling and toward the trend of social selling, single-source customer research will leave you high and dry. Nearly 73% of salespeople who included social media in their sales process outperformed their peers and exceeded quota 23% more often (source: Social Centered Selling).

Discovering social insights will not only heat up your prospect pipeline, it will also help bridge the gap between forcing a product conversation and building customer rapport.

Using Dynamic Social Insights to Power Your Conversations

Social selling is comprised of at least three pieces–and the first is social insights (i.e. social buzz, breaking news, and profiles for prospective customers).

  • Social Insights: Start by finding something to talk about that isn’t your product. Evoke nostalgia and provide a compelling reason for your prospect to engage with you
  • Your Brand (as a Salesperson): Build your own reputation by creating and promoting your personal brand on your professional social media outlets
  • Your Company’s Brand: Be certain that your company’s brand holds up to your customers’ expectations

Nostalgia for the Win

For many decades, advertisers have used nostalgia to charm their way into a customer’s psyche and win business. Typically in advertising, nostalgia is used in a one-to-many situation–but as of late, technology has taken nostalgia to a new level: one-to-one. Spotify now suggests songs to users from decades past, based solely on the user’s birth year.

The point is that nostalgia is a proven sales tactic that can be adapted to various scenarios. You don’t need to be a technology giant or an advertising firm to move a deal forward using nostalgia. As an individual salesperson, you can implement tools in your sales process to do the digging for you and connect to your prospective customers in new ways. In short, social insights surrounding your prospects’ past and present can easily incite interest in business conversations. When you find that your prospect’s alma mater is the same as yours, a first-touch email might begin with “Go [insert team name here]!” That’s the draw.

Your Personal Brand Matters Just as Much

Brand expert Dan Schawbel notes that “the objective of personal branding is professional success and is directly linked to the success of the company we serve.” Start by building your social network connections while concurrently focusing on sharing relevant content with your network of peers and prospects. Next, tell the story of yourself and your expertise to the audience who will find you most relevant. Don’t cast your net too wide. And lastly, be sure to stay “human.” Your followers/connections know you’re not a company brand–so don’t pretend you are.

As you gain credibility, your clout will increase. And not surprisingly, you might see your Klout Score (the standard for influence) increase as well.

Social Selling is a Two-Way Street

It’s hard to believe that social late adopters still exist. Just because you are taking the high road of social selling doesn’t mean your company is doing the same. Make sure your marketing team is actively maintaining your company social pages. You cannot sell effectively if your brand doesn’t measure up.

Your prospects will check out your online presence for proof of credibility–and that includes social (see our blog post on social influence). Afterall, 82% of consumers trust a company more if they are involved with social media (source: Forbes) and 70% of B2B decision makers use social media to help make their decisions (source: Forrester). Social interaction offers an incredible opportunity to create a valuable feedback loop and increase trustworthiness as your company responds to customer inquiries and posts educational, interesting or thoughtful content.

Social Selling is Multi-Layered

While various levels of social selling certainly exist, you have to start somewhere. By describing just three levels above, we hope to have piqued your interest in social’s potential to land new business and improve your closing ratio.