If you only relied on the Internet for sales advice, you might think that the world of social media marketing has completely changed sales forever and your business is missing out on the newest secrets in sales. But I would say that isn’t all true. I’ve had the pleasure to speak with John Jantsch about sales and marketing, and I look forward to his new book Duct Tape Selling. Having had a preview of the new book, I can tell you there are going to be some great lessons on selling in an online world. I can also say there will be a slight tweak of the “know, like, and trust” mantra, but it still holds true.
The Good News: The art, the strategy, and the psychology of selling have basically stayed the same and will for a long time.
When I write that selling has basically stayed the same, I come from a place of satisfaction that social selling hasn’t over-turned the apple cart. Sue me; I believe in face-to-face connections. With Facebook’s overflow of information in feeds and changing algorithms, sales strategies are returning to the core principles in the 21st century. The problem is finding an effective way to be heard through the static. So how do we sell in a world where customers are overwhelmed with choices? Simply put, show customers you are a human being.
In social media, the “Know” quality is more important than anywhere else. This is the reason why social media experts encourage quality content and customer interaction. Neglecting content and customers is terrible marketing and even worse customer service. Facebook and other social sites do not reward a blizzard of empty information. Spend your social media marketing time in developing relationships with customers. One exception that proves the rule is the benefit of some light, unrelated content. If you post on your company’s social media platforms about a new TV show premier or videos of office pets, and there is a great response from fans/followers, then you have learned something about your customers. Knowing your customers online “brand” is just as valuable as customers knowing your brand.
Social media, websites, email, and direct mailings are great tools for brand awareness and customer relationship management, because they allow you to connect with your potential customers. Adding personal touches or sharing a little bit of your history as a business owner is how I like to boost my “Know” value. The story I like to tell is how I started Advantage Handyman Services in Charlottesville, VA. I moved to the area and couldn’t find a decent handyman that I could trust to show up on time and do quality work without my being home. This story lets my potential customers know that I understand their fears and frustrations with hiring a stranger to come into their homes and meet their expectations of quality work. Sharing my experience creates a connection between the customer, my company, and myself.
I tell this true story to create a competitive edge over the competition in my area by telling potential customers that I have trustworthy employees and that I will stake my reputation on the quality of work. If customers still have concerns, I tell them that I would never hire someone I wouldn’t have over for dinner. The family dinner is a small detail that is a big selling point on trust. I strongly recommend using your own version of this formula: I am like you and I understand where you are coming from and, most importantly, I have solutions because I get it.
This strategy has huge rewards for the business, as we have great repeat customers and high referral ratings. Negative reviews on Yelp and other sites are terrible for business. It’s a fact. However, I would pick a solid network of customer referrals in my area over great online reviews. As a business owner, I am more suspicious of negative reviews on websites than most people, but there is no overstating the fact that a referral from a happy customer is worth gold.