The simple answer is, it’s all 4. You need contacts to engage and convert and content to assist you in this process. What is often ignored is context which plays a huge role in defining relevance. It is simply not enough to blindly throw content at customers all day long in the hope that they might find it to be of value. That is a waste of your time, their time, and may even prove to be counterproductive (damaging) to your efforts. Nor is it effective to constantly bang them on the head with a hammer when this delicate surgery may require a scalpel and for you to have the skilled hands of a surgeon.
With that in mind, let’s call our components the “4 C’s” and take a closer look at each …
Contrary to some popular opinions, I believe that it is not about the number of contacts that you have. Rather, I think that fewer, yet better, connections will trump the unwashed thousands when it comes to measurable results. It is more about servicing your best customers/prospects/referrers and doing so where the only acceptable goal is to exceed their expectations. This takes time and a focused, consistent, effort.
If you have thousands (or even millions) of people that you are trying to reach (or even if you do not), having the ability to segment them by a variety of parameters, will be tantamount to your success. This is important in terms of discovering, as well as later managing, these folks. It’s not difficult to create targeted lists based on say industry and location but, selling today has the potential of being able to add a social layer to this task. For example, “show me people who are influential in marketing, have a klout score of at least 50, and who work in the dental industry in the Los Angeles area.”
We simply must be able to engage with our contacts and do so in manners that are relevant to them at any given specific time. Let’s start by looking at a common definition for context …
“The set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.”
The current status exists due to other contributing factors and these additional conditions point to the context. For example, in sales we talk a lot about triggers Triggers are events that will cause a certain opportunity to present itself and triggers are one of the variables that can be used to correctly identify the context.
Keeping things in their suitable context is about having the ability to interpret all of the surrounding evidence that social sales provides and having that available at the right time and during the right opportunity. It is approaching things with that right context in mind that makes your actions relevant based on the evidence and this includes the content that you choose to share.
The proper context can only be determined by really getting to know people, their wants, interests, and desires and then by building a relationship on top of these foundational elements. It is your goal, your job, to uncover these insights prior to even reaching out to them. You review previous conversations and activities before proceeding in order to ensure that your following steps are taken in the proper context (applicable to their current status). What would you think about a salesperson contacting you about a service that might have been relevant to you but, two years ago? Better yet … you no longer even work in that industry. Impressive.
Much of this information should discoverable from within your well-maintained CRM (even better a Social CRM) and, if you are not using either, you are missing out on these insane opportunities. A good CRM becomes even more powerful with shared contact records that document your team’s’ activities with this account in addition to your own. Your only alternatives are to visit their social profiles individually in addition to your inbox, calendar, and that manila folder that holds all of your post it notes and scraps of paper. How many of us are willing to do that? Probably not many, including me, and certainly not for a lower value deal.
There is one thing that has always made understanding our contacts and their current situations to be an extremely difficult task. None of the insights that we may have been able to gather will remain static. Everybody and everything about them is dynamic and constantly changing. Social sales has the potential to excel in this arena as we now have the ability to monitor these movements that are occurring in the lives of our customers (business and personal) and we are able to do so in close to real-time.
Just throwing content against the wall and hoping that some of it will stick (resonate with your customers) is pretty easy to do. If this method were easy and effective, winner winner chicken dinner but, few effective strategies are that painless. In fact, indiscriminate actions are no strategy at all. On the other hand, using the same search terms outlined in a previous paragraph, will help us to target specific content to specific contacts.
However, it still must be personalized (relevant, timely, and in context) for that specific account. Well, it doesn’t have to be but, you will be more successful if it is. Once again, a quality effort on your part will trump a flurry of ill-planned activities.
It’s not only about the relevancy of the content itself, it’s also when you share it. In order to maximize your success, your timing must be on the mark. Sharing good relevant content cements the fact that you are there to service your customer. This is behavior that would be exhibited by a team member rather than by a vendor and, who wants to be seen as a vendor?
If we do everything correctly, the result will be increased conversions. Note that all of our previous activities are centered on education and getting to know and to understand our customers rather than on the pitch. Of course, the pitch will come some time and both that, and the conversion, will become much easier having first earned the right to ask for that order!
Rarely is it about “the close”. The close is the natural culmination to the sales process when the preceding steps have been completed effectively. They call it a sales funnel because the tiny hole at the bottom of it is just large enough for an order-signing pen to stick out of it.