Social media is the most powerful tool to land in the lap of business in a generation. Social Media can build brand awareness, unearth prospects, engage and build connections.

Unfortunately, most businesses have little or no idea what to do with this amazing opportunity.

Here is the answer  – or at least part of it!

In a world where a Google Adword can cost £50.00 per click or more Social Media offers an opportunity for business to skirt skeptical paid advertising and get right to their customers! Get your clients and prospects to connect and engage and they become partners in your success – true Mavens for your business!

Powerful stuff!

Social media can be used for a variety of goals so it is important to know what you want and where you’re going. The tools in social media can be used for brand awareness, lead generation and direct sales depending on what you want to achieve.

The key to success is to understand the sales process, which is always the same:

1)   Create the want through brand awareness

2)   Deliver a compelling message

3)   Connect with a qualified prospect

4)   Trial close and then close and get the business

The following three stages will get you very real results in developing sales through social media. Remember social media is not selling and at some point you will need to sell and ask for the business! If your business requires a face-to-face sales element then real selling and closing skills will also be required. You should always be investing in the selling skills of your team – that includes you!

Stage One: Traffic

This is all about getting noticed in a busy, noisy social media world!

Start with the following Social Media platforms:

Twitter – your account should be based on the brand you wish to promote in the long run. Post regular updates that will be of interest you’re your target market. Follow everyone you do business with or wish to do business with in the future. Keep the spread between following and followers inside of 2000 or Twitter will classify you as a spammer and close down your account! Don’t automatically follow everyone who follows you – lots of spammers out there!

Hootsuite – this program will allow you to schedule your Tweets over busy periods so that your message is delivered consistently – even on weekends or when you’re on holidays! The last thing you want is for your message to stop just when you’re getting some attention out there!

Facebook – This should reflect your web and brand but with a slightly more casual design. Like pages that you do business with or wish to do business with in the future. Facebook does provide a great opportunity to connect. I would not suggest connecting this with your real personal page. Create a social media persona so that you can become fully involved without exposing your real personal life. This is always a mistake.

Create a Blog – WordPress is a good format – either on their site or part of your own website – both have advantages. Provide solid, interesting content and publish regularly. Your blog can be automatically configured to repost on to your Facebook page.  Make sure to include like and share buttons to make spreading the word so much easier. Blog articles also make great material for articles submissions, which is the fastest and cheapest method to drive SEO.

Create a Sound Cloud account and post audio versions of your blog just like I have done here! Use the same to post on your Youtube account. An audio version allows people to choose whether to listen as well as read. Hearing your voice or watching you on video is a great method to connect – much stronger than the written word alone!

Add Share and like buttons to all of your web pages to make it easy to promote your business – this really drives SEO!

Create a LinkedIn account and create a compelling profile that presents you and your business in the most professional and compelling manner possible. Connect with everyone who your can reasonably expect to have a business relationship.  Everyone in your organization should have a LinkedIn profile and his or her profiles should be linked to your LinkedIn company page.

Create your own LinkedIn Group and take on a leadership role within your industry. Don’t use your own group for pure self-promotion as it is tacky, a turn off for others and will this will limit membership.

Join LinkedIn Groups. You’re allowed to join fifty groups. Pick them carefully and make an effort to pick groups where your ideal customers belong. If you’re uncertain look at the profiles of your target customers and see which groups they are involved and join those groups.

Create an email newsletter. These are less popular than in the past but still powerful! I use i-contact and use content from my Blog and so a weekly newsletter takes me about ten minutes to prepare each week as I have already produced the content for my blog. I have produced an email newsletter for 300 weeks in a row – consistency demonstrates discipline and focus to my audience – good things I think!

Open an Empire Avenue account to leverage your efforts and to broaden your engagement within the social media landscape. This is a powerful platform to gain real connections and help within the social media world. You can enlist the help of others to achieve your social media goals!

Open a Klout account to measure your performance against others. This will help you understand that balance is important and help prevent you from focusing all of your efforts on just one platform.

Too much?

All of this probably seems likes a lot (and it is) but start slowly and build momentum over time. Even one hour a week will produce results if you are consistent. Content can be shared, varied and duplicated which does save much of the effort. You want to avoid being too repetitive, however, material can be used multiple times, edited, and rehashed to create new and still interesting content. Promoting other’s content is important in building a following and making the message more inclusive and open. This also helps on the content issues!

The important point is to develop a consistent and regular message that is consistent with your brand image.

Ultimately during stage one you want to build traffic and so measurement is important. Week by week, month by month you should see increased traffic to your sites and blogs as well as increased connections in all areas.

What is measured can be improved!

Stage two: Engagement

Engagement is the part of Social Media that most people get wrong. Either they can’t create enough of a connection with those they would like to connect with or they get stuck in the engagement and cannot move from engagement to closing the sale.

To begin the process of learning how to engage using social media I would strongly recommend starting with Empire Avenue.  As a Social Media Stock Exchange you will quickly learn the ins and outs of leveraging social media to build real connections with real people to raise the awareness of your business. As the system is a trading house for social media you will learn what works and what doesn’t.

These tools and experiences can be quickly translated to client and prospect relationships so that social media will become a powerful and efficient tool to connect with potential prospects. The result is that Social Media will become an important lead generation tool and contribute to the filling of your sales pipeline.

Stage three – The sale

In my experience this is where most people either choke or over do it and turn off the prospect.  As discussed, in a recent Blog, the key to a powerful business development program is a Sales Pipeline full of prospects. As each prospect becomes ripe then that is the time to close and get the business.

How to know when a prospect is ripe?  The trial close!

This is important and where the more subtle aspects of selling come into play.

Initially, a trial close is asking for a meeting – keep it simple – a coffee can move a relationship forward. It could be asking for an order, a potential referral or a long-term contract that can be developed overtime.

If a prospect appears interested then try a close. “Is this something that you would like to be doing fairly soon?”  If they back away, explore further to see if there are objections that can be resolved right away. If not, then back off and put them back into the Pipeline and continue to market to them. If they are ready, then just ask for the order.

Always ask for the order!

Remember that social media takes time and is an investment!  Just as paid advertising takes time to get results the same is true with social media.  The reality, however, that this is where the world is going so you better gets involved and lean this stuff!

Facebook is worth 100 Billion!

Effective selling is always about starting with the right strategy, the right message, and the right people with the right tools.

cold call