The way we buy has changed, it seems selling hasn’t caught up yet.

As a business (and as an individual) I can’t tell you how many sales calls we get on a daily basis. I’m pretty sure you share my pain. And let me tell you the second we put out an advert for a job vacancy, we’re bombarded by recruitment agencies calling us and toting for our business. (We actually have a tally and think our record is 24 cold calls in one day!)

I get it, they have a job to do but they’re going about it the wrong way.

Respect people’s time.

That’s the first important key point. I might be misquoting this but I think Felix Dennis once said, “you can waste my money, I’ll always make more. But don’t waste my time.” Or maybe that was Warren Buffett? There’s nothing more off putting than someone selling you something that’s completely irrelevant (or when you’ve asked specifically not to be contacted again). We had a guy call up a week ago and actually lie saying they had a scheduled call with me…. had never heard of him.

Add value

Add value, add value, add value and then ask for something. Often these recruiters just ring you up or send speculative CVs, often having done no research or background work, they send candidates that don’t even correlate to what we’re looking for. They don’t know this business and vice versa so why on earth would I buy from them off the back of a cold call?

Apart from the fact that our telephone numbers are registered on the TPS and interrupting your day asking for something out the blue; these cold calls and salespeople seem to be missing a trick. Ok, I’m going to stop ranting now but seriously… When was the last time you bought something off a cold call? When was the last time you took notice of a banner advert and clicked through to buy something?

The way we buy has changed, selling hasn’t caught up yet.

There’s no secret that brands and businesses need to be on social media and I want to explore social in terms of selling. Humans buy from humans and we need to create conversations, build relationships before the cold, hard sell.

What’s the last purchase you made? Just think for a moment about the process you went through. You may have done an online search, looked at the website, read some reviews, maybe Tweeted to your peer groups to ask for other people’s experiences, you might have gone to read some content and done quite a few things before you actually parted with your hard earned pounds.

Small businesses today are able to make one to one connections, be more visible and add more value to their customers and potential customers through social than ever before. We used to need 4 exposures of a brand or advert before someone bought from you. Today it’s more like 16 times. You can achieve this through social without huge budgets.

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Find your customers online and choose the right platform

to-do-listCommunicate with your buyers where they are. Here’s a quick exercise, write a list of your top 10 clients. Now Google them individually and see what social media platforms they are on, this is a good starting point to find out what platforms you should be paying attention to. (I’m not actively promoting stalking, by the way, it’s research).

If you need a little more scientific data than this, here’s a tool that you can use on Linked In to drill down into the exact target audience criteria and see how many of those people are on there.

Check out Sales Navigator

Facebook is the same, you can boost a post and drill down into locations, interests, ages and all sorts of demographics. Find your exact target audience online and actively promote content that will add value to them.

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Be visible online

Once you’ve chosen your platform and you’re online, you need to ensure that you’re visible. Optimise your profiles and bio with the right keywords that people might search. Use hashtags for content so it can be found on relevant topics.

And make sure you’re posting often even but don’t overwhelm people! I recently wrote about overdoing the promotional talk and how users will unfollow brands for posting too often and being too salesy.

Add value (did I say that already?) 

Content is a proactive way to start conversations. You shouldn’t be thinking of your brand or yourself and you shouldn’t be “selling”. Add value! The best business is the business you give.

If you’re consistently pushing out valuable content aligned to what you do and sharing great content, then eventually people will identify you as a source of good information. When it comes time for them to buy what you’re selling, you will be front of mind and they will have had some meaningful conversations with you already.

Not sure where to start now?

It’s overwhelming, we understand that. If you do one thing today, do that little exercise with your top ten and go and get connected with all your current customers online. And maybe even suppliers. Start sharing content and don’t be afraid to let people see you on a personal level. Humanising your social media profiles gives more opportunity for people to find commonality and connect with you.

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