An Introduction to Social Selling for Channel Partners
As a channel partner you may have been asked to do some “social selling” in your new role. What exactly does that mean? It means nurturing potential leads you've connected with on social media and eventually turning some of those leads into iOffice customers. How do you go about doing that? Here's a helpful beginner's guide to getting started selling and IWMS on social media, the right way.
Where You Should Spend Your Time
In workplace and facilities management, most of your potential customers are spending time on LinkedIn. They’re already in “work mode” when they visit the site and are more open to receiving information on solutions for their workplace. In fact, the most popular times people visit LinkedIn are Monday through Friday between 8:00am and 4:00pm - prime workday hours. However, this is also a place they spend time to better their personal career and to make connections, not just to be sold to. Keep that in mind when reaching out to prospects. Also, be sure to spread your time evenly throughout the platform. LinkedIn has various areas where people spend time, including Groups, Pulse and the News Feed.
The News Feed is very similar to Facebook's. It's the hub of all that is happening in your LinkedIn world. The page you are immediately directed to when you login to LinkedIn is your News Feed or the Home page. It's where you can see updates from your connections, and what people are talking about in Groups or posts that people have liked.
Groups are where members that share a common interest swap information, collaborate and ask questions about certain topics or areas discussion. To get an idea of what Groups are all about, visit our iOffice News group. Pulse is a section of LinkedIn where members can write about a specific topics and publish articles directly to LinkedIn. Here's a Pulse article written by our co-founder, Elizabeth Dukes. Both of these sections are located in the "Interests" section on LinkedIn, which is one of the tabs on your Home page or News Feed.
A much more casual platform than LinkedIn, Twitter can be used to provide valuable insight in the industry, and to possibly find potential customers. Send out tweets with helpful tips for facilities managers and the occasional resource, like an ebook or infographic. Be sure to engage with other accounts by retweeting and sharing articles from outside sources to create a well-balanced profile. If you need a little inspiration, or you're new to the Twitter world check out our blog on starting a Twitter account. Think of it as a streaming feed of links and photos that lead to articles and news publications. You'll get the hang of it in no time.
Where are Facebook and Instagram on the list? While wonderful sites that get many visits, they’re just not the most valuable for an IWMS retailer. Both Facebook and Instagram are utilized by a primarily younger audience and are used for personal interactions rather than business relationships. Keep and eye out for Facebook at Work, which could change the game very soon. However, at the moment, you’re best off spending time on the two sites listed above.
How to Sell Without Being “Salesy”
You have a solution to a common problem, and your biggest hurdle will be trying to convince everyone to listen to your solution to their problem. It’s tempting to want to get right into the wonderful solution iOffice offers, however that will definitely come across as forceful and pushy. Two things no effective channel partner wants to be. Here are some tips on gaining trust and turning qualified connections into potential customers.
Our IWMS isn’t the right fit for every organization, and that’s okay! Each workplace manager needs a different set of factors in their software than the next. It’s your job to help people decide if our system is the best fit for them. We have many resources, but some workplaces would be better off with a system different than ours. We aren’t trying to be everyone’s solution, we want to be the best solution for the best candidates. When interacting with potential customers on social, answer their questions honestly. Provide them with all the resources you can to help them make the most informed decision. If they’re just starting out consider sharing with them our ebook, Your Comprehensive Guide to Identifying Facilities Management Software Needs. Or perhaps they’re more advanced in their buying process, then pass along The Ultimate IWMS Buyer’s Guide. Everything you share should provide value, and truly help the individual by allowing them to decide which purchase is in the best interest for them and their workplace.
It’s important to remember to treat online social interactions like you would face-to-face interactions. A big mistake people often make on social is they don’t treat interacting online like they would normal interactions. You wouldn’t run up to a stranger at a concert and give them a hug would you? This is the same logic that shows why your first interaction with a connection should never be to sell. You must nurture a prospect at a reasonable pace. Your goal is to find the best candidates for our IWMS, and share with them why they fit the bill, in a natural progressive way. Feel free to make connections with people you meet at conferences or IFMA luncheons. Reach out to old coworkers or friends of current customers. However, never ask them for the opportunity to show them a product until they have expressed interest or you have spoken to them about their problem and you know our IWMS would be a good solution. You really shouldn't be "cold calling" or "cold social selling" to anyone. These need to be warm leads that you have developed a relationship with over time. To slowly build that relationship, interact with them casually first. If you want to comment on one of their post try liking a few of them over time before you comment. Share articles in a group they're a part of, or comment on a post they commented on. Treat your engagement on social as you would with a new friend. Slow but steady.
One of the biggest hurdles of selling through social media is gaining your audience’s trust. They’re constantly being sold to, not just by you but by every service provider out there. To separate yourself from the others you must be different. You must be the one they actually know is trying to help them. To do this, you've got to be helpful! Share industry ebooks you find interesting and useful. Send their resume to a contact when they ask, or introduce them to a colleague you know will help them get and interview for a job they want. Include an insightful blog post link the comment section of a LinkedIn Group post. Earning trust takes time, and often the efforts of your labor aren’t returned immediately. However, when your contacts do decide that an IWMS is for them and their facility, you can guess who they’re going to schedule a demo with.