Social is a state of mind, not a platform.
Social is a way of doing business, not a trend to jump on the bandwagon with.
Social is how we did business years ago. My grandmother was a larger-than-life social figure in the geographic community she lived in. She was my role model. We called her Mimi, and I’ve written about her over the years because she was such a big influence on me in business. (read about Mimi here http://blog.hubspot.com/sales/lessons-from-my-grandmother-to-sales )
Mimi owned a women’s apparel shop carrying the best brands and top quality accessories. If you bought from Mimi’s shop, you could trust that there was a limited quantity of your particular garment sold – so not everyone would have one like you – and you knew that if there was any problem you could come back to the shop.
We used to pick up the phone to call customers when something came in that they would like. We kept lists of sizes and favorite colors for when husbands and fiancés wanted to pick up a surprise gift. It was community based selling at its finest – based on “small data” and based on crowdsourcing, because we polled our customers and shoppers in person in real-time as they were in the shop.
Although I write about new trends and social platforms - and really love what I’m seeing with technology reaching mid-market and SMB companies – it’s important to realize that selling socially is not a new concept. We have been doing it for hundreds of years.
If you need a refresher, find an old shopkeeper and ask them how they have stayed in business for many years. Ask them how they know what their customers want?
Use social platforms to build your company’s and your personal brand. You can grow your visibility and be like a non-stop trade show by creating a strong presence online. It is one of the most important things your company needs to think about if they have not put a planned effort in place yet online. Don’t feel bad – many midsized and SMB companies are in the same boat. Now is the time to sit down and think about how you want your company to be represented online.
Not sure how you show up online? Do some experimenting with search. Use Google and Bing to see if you rank at all for any of the topics you should. For example, if you have a marketing company that specifically helps dental practices, if you search for “marketing company” dental or various derivatives of this you’ll see if you come up at all or not. If not, or if you rank far down below the “fold” or on a second or third page, you need to improve this to be found by buyers who are looking for you.
As you are doing this experiment and subsequent visibility improvement, you can use social platforms to engage and start conversations. Search for potential buyers and learn about them. Don’t sell them! See what they are talking about. Find insight about them that you can turn into a conversation over the phone This is all while you are working to build your online presence.
What I’m saying is that you can create as you go – rather than doing nothing until it is perfect. Your online presence will never be perfect. It is a living changing being.
What can you accomplish before the end of the year?
How can you be ready for the New Year with your improved online presence?
What could that mean in new revenues?
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.