It’s important to start off with a short disclaimer – when I say the close when social selling, I mean taking the conversation offline. I do not mean signing on the dotted line, the exchange of money for product or service.
With social selling, it is important to know your goal is to take a conversation “offline”, and I don’t mean to take the discussion over to writing a letter or something non-digital. I simply mean away from social media, and onto phone or email, face to face, however, you see and work best.
The close with social selling can be done in a variety of ways but the main way to know when it is time to go for it, is to use a clever framework and process or simply use your own sales intuition.
You can’t teach a person to learn a sales persons instinct or gut feeling. It can be nurtured and developed but not actually taught. There is no right or wrong time to go for the ask actually, there is no definitive answer. But what works, is good enough for me.
You have to know where the conversation is going with your prospect in order to know when the time is right to go for the “ask”. For example, you need to know what your overall strategy looks like from first social interaction to the sale. You will need to know what problems or topics you will work conversation around with your prospect, so plan ahead to speak about a certain topic. Talk about a topic that is related to what you do and what the prospect needs to solve (if they have an issue for example and you can solve it). That is when you can take the conversation offline.
Think about the value of taking the conversation offline if you put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. Why would I want a phone call? Why would I want an email exchange with you? What’s in it for me? This is quite a selfish-sounding set of questions but when we live in the world we do today, our time and money are the most valued things we have in business terms.
You will need to take the conversation offline for a reason, otherwise your “ask” won’t be worth accepting. I can have a LinkedIn messaging conversation all day with people, but there needs to be a reason to change the channel of communication. Maybe it is to send some content, or to hone in on a problem you can help the prospect with. Understanding the path and route to having that conversation paths the way to a successful ask.
And by the way, this is not actually very easy at all. Some people naturally see the route to the win, but not everyone does instantly or at all. Social selling is freestyle selling, I say. There’s no real script, you are rolling with the punches as we say in England.
I just said there is no real script for social selling and that is true, but you can put measures in place to make your process as efficient and routine as you can make it which does help. After all, repeating a process allows you to work more efficiently so it is a good idea to work out how you can create a workflow and process for your social selling.
I recommend trying whatever feels right in your gut when you start social selling, try things and measure how successful your methods are. Innovate your process and optimise it after you know where you are having success, you can then create the framework and process to repeat this.
The framework you want to create ideally consists of a workflow that helps you (only as a guide, not as a rigid process) to know what to do to connect, engage and communicate with your prospects to take a conversation offline. I recommend this guide as an example from my good friend and colleague Kevin Thomas Tully on our blog.
The reality about a framework is it should exist after a certain amount of time, it is the key to scaling what you do. For example, SDR’s or sales managers and directors on-board with social selling will need a process and plan to bring social selling into their team and their practices. However, if you understand the methods and the theory side of social selling as a sales rep, you can almost dive in without a process, follow your nose (as the saying goes). Try what feels right and then document it when it works, that is how a framework is created.
Based on my own experience there is never a right or wrong way to do your social selling. It is not ever about only the messaging you use, or the channel you focus most on. There is always a way you can better your approach, and let’s not forget that this is still a relatively new thing in the world of sales. Adoption is picking up pace but there is still a long way to go in order to change the B2B sales landscape totally. Focus on doing the right things for your prospects for the right reason, put the spotlight on them and become the most amazing advocate for them and for their brand that you can be. There is limitless value you can provide for a prospect and their business if you are a social superstar helping them spread the word, that over time will drum up conversation. It’s just up to you to know when to go for the close.
About the Author: Ollie Whitfield is a Social Selling Executive at The Creation Agency. Ollie helps clients use social selling and find new ways to optimise their processes. When Ollie isn’t working, he’s usually found playing a few games of pool or football. You can connect with him on Twitter.