Today I’m writing in response to Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt’s column in the Green Bay Press Gazette: Innovation series to feature sales. Here Ryan Kauth, director of the Small Business Development Center SBDC, "believes that sales are the lifeblood of any business, and effective sales are more than having a conversation on Facebook".
I respectfully disagree. Why? Because Facebook is a communication tool. This is where your audience is listening. Where else can you connect with your audience on such a large scale?
Sometimes, face-to-face communication in say a business cocktail hour can be highly effective, however, that is not a scalable sales approach. Relationships can be made on Social Media more efficiently than a face-to-face meeting. Sonix Studio is a good example of this. We made the decision to quit all networking groups several years ago and business only got better. According to Knauth, sales should have dropped exponentially.
The most common reason businesses view social media as a failing marketing strategy, is because they view it as a marketing strategy. Social Media is a communication tool. Social Media connects you to your audience. If you market to them, they won’t listen, however, if you are real with them and focus on building a real relationship through conversation, it’s a highly productive selling tool.
Reading on in the article, Knauth says, "it begins with knowing your customer." If you knew your customer, you'd know that 90% of them are on some sort of Social Media. You'd know that in order to reach them that you need to go where they hang out. Knauth talks about "lists". When was the last time you entertained a sales call or were excited to get your direct mail? Those strategies aren't working. Email ists? Forget about it. Open rates went from 40-60% in the late 90's to less than 1% today.
"Once you have leads, research the company and find out who the decision-maker is. Then, schedule an appointment and put your sales training to practice." Here the author makes it sound to easy to make an appointment. It's not that easy in today's world. People are very protective of their time. Wouldn't it be easier to get an appointment if the person knew you? That's where Social Media comes in. You can connect easier on social media platforms than in real life. Once you've earned their trust, those appointments are much simpler get scheduled. My advice is to find out who the decision-maker is, connect with them on social media, build trust through general conversation, build common ground, then try and make that appointment.
Your customers are on Facebook. Treat it like a cocktail hour. Engage in conversation instead of self-promotion and you too will be successful at relationship building through Facebook. Relationships bring customers.