I want to relate to you a story of something that recently happened to me. I was walking down to my favourite crabbing spot that is five minutes from my home with a friend. We were talking about the latest social selling trends, football results and how Brexit has affected our lives.
In the middle of a conversation of how Reading (my favourite team) beat his favourite team (Ipswich) a man suddenly jumped out of the bush next to us. He handed me a piece of paper with a single line on it and shouted, “buy my book.”
Stunned for a second, my friend and I watched as the man disappeared into the distance. Looking at the paper, I noticed it documented the title of a book alongside a quote. However, the whole episode annoyed us. We threw away the paper and continued with our walk.
Two days later, there was a knock on the door and the same man appeared and asked whether I enjoyed the book. I simply said I would never buy it and closed the door.
Holding My Hands Up
Okay, this isn’t a real story. If a man were hiding in bushes jumping out at people and then knocking on my door repeatedly– I would probably be calling the police as it would seem like he was stalking me. However, this happens every day on social media. It is the worst form of social selling – the interruption.
Numerous companies use this tactic, and most seem to be digital marketers, who hack an update or page on Facebook to sell their services without any prior conversation. They will be blunt in their sales patter and unapologetic about their intrusion into another conversation.
This style of social selling is nothing more than spam. A quick look at social timelines will often find the same message has been sent to dozens of social media users.
Social Selling Needs To Be Ethical
When people resort to these social selling tactics, I tend to consider them desperate actions or a demonstration of their lack of knowledge of proper etiquette. Let’s look at the story above again. You would never consider hiding in a bush to jump out at people to tell them about your product – yet those that employ this strategy are doing just that – ambushing potential customers.
In the short term, it can’t be that effective. In 2014, social media only accounts for 1% of all online sales, but customers use it for product research and to determine the ethical positioning of potential suppliers and this is becoming more popular. At the same time, if you are spamming social networks, those sites can block your access.
Therefore, it is important to adopt ethical, social selling practices.
One of the important things to consider is that social selling is one part of a much larger process. 80% of purchases take between five and twelve interactions. If social media is the first and only – you’re only going to get 1 or 2% of your business’ potential sales.
Instead, you need to weave your social selling strategy into a marketing process. One recommendation is to direct them to a free download, blog post, podcast or newsletter signup. Give them something valuable for free but ask for their email contact details in return.
Using various pieces of information, you can then send your contacts relevant emails. These should be linked to places where the contact can buy your products. Yet that might not work, which is why it important to collect the contact information of your prospects, such as Skype or their telephone number. With this information, you can arrange a sales call when you notice certain buying behaviours such as regular clicks to a product page.
We tried this with one customer and the five people who had visited their product page the most within 48 hours all bought a product over the telephone. A win-win if you ask me.
Don’t Be The Man In The Bush
Social selling is about being ethical and realising that it is part of an online buying experience for most customers. By ensuring it is a cog in the machine you can make your whole sales process a lot more effective and not appear illegitimate or annoy your potential customers.
If there is one piece of information you should take from this article, it is that you should never be the man in the bush and ambush potential clients.
Have you ever been ambushed on social media? How did it make you feel?
Let us know in the comments below.