You’re probably already doing it. Failing, that is. Most small business owners I know fail miserably at social selling. They are incredible contractors, interior designers, real estate agents, and whatever else they do. It’s just that being great at your craft doesn’t mean you’re an expert in the nuances of social media marketing.
Here’s the deal. Most small business owners I know come at social media with a “sell it” mentality. Every post needs to be a homerun sales pitch. And then they get frustrated when they fall flat and fail to produce any results.
“Social media doesn’t work for us,” they say.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to sell on social media is to stop selling. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are not inherently sales platforms. They are social platforms. When you think about buying something, you go somewhere like Amazon. That’s a sales platform. When you get onto social media sites, you’re looking to connect with people. And in those connections, you share (and discover) ideas that help you shape your life.
That’s why looking to social media strictly for selling is the wrong approach. You should be there to connect. And if you’re really good, to tell a story about who you are, what you do, and how that intersects with your customers – and potential customers – lives.
The North Wind and the Sun (Aesop’s Fables)
There’s a great fable from Aesop that serves as a guide for how you should approach your social media strategy for business.
The Wind and the Sun are arguing over is stronger. Suddenly they see a traveler coming down the road. They decide to settle to an argument over whoever can get the traveler to take his coat off. The Wind blows as hard as it can, but the traveler tightens his coat up even more. Then the Sun softly shines its rays on him. The traveler suddenly feels hot and finally removes his coat. Declaring the Sun, the winner.
The lesson here is that persuasion is a far better tool than force. The same applies to your social selling strategy. You’ll get much further with a more kind and humble and gentle approach than you will by blasting at them.
Forcing It Never Works
“I want to get on social media and hang out with a used car salesman.”
– No one ever.
Here’s my big challenge to you. Don’t be that guy. You know, the one who tries to sell you a car just because you have a driver’s license.
Don’t get me wrong. You probably have a great product or service. And it likely could make people’s lives much better. The problem is in the approach, not the product. For car buyers, 60 percent of the process occurs online. People search third-party websites (78%) and dealer/manufacturer websites (53%). So much of the legwork for car buying happens like this because people don’t want to deal with the pushy salesman. We naturally reject that kind of in-your-face tactics.
If you go into your social selling approach like the North Wind, you’ll get the same result. People will pull that coat tighter and try to protect themselves from your blow-hard approach.
The Art of Persuasion
Social selling is about persuasion. And persuasion is about influencing convictions or beliefs. In our fable, the Sun didn’t force the traveler to take off his coat. Instead, he created an environment where that outcome was more likely. The traveler became convinced that taking off the coat on his own was the right idea.
In a social media setting, sales persuasion looks like:
- Sharing your story in a way people can relate to
- Establishing yourself as an expert in your field
- Making them look smart to their friends by being a helpful resource
- Being the fun guy in the room
You’ll get to social selling opportunities when you present the kind of personality people want to do business with. Social selling is the result of creating the right kind of environment. When they decide the time is right, they’ll buy from you.
Final Thoughts on Social Selling
The bottom line is that there are customers out there to be found on social media. Lots of them! But winning at social selling is more about taking the softer and more persuasive approach than it is about forcing your sales pitch on people.
It’s also worth noting that social selling works best when you understand the differences between how people use each platform. What you do on LinkedIn should look very different than what you do on Facebook. They are different kinds of parties. The key is to connect well – and naturally – in the environment you’re in.
Get this right, and you’ll have sales rolling in through social media. That’s how we’ve done it. And hit us up if you want to talk through what might be the right digital marketing approach for your small business.