How you conduct business, whether you are an owner, operator, manager, or sales executive, has become increasingly dependent on social media, but are we beginning to depend on it so much that we don't communicate productively?
I believe that with our increasing world of transparency and connectivity, it's important to recognize how social media can help our professional brands, digital marketing strategy, new business development, and client relations. But are we forgetting or neglecting the power of human interaction within the sales process?
Here's how to tell if you're using social media to effectively socialize with prospects and clients.
First, ask yourself if you are achieving the desired outcome when you interact using social media. Whether it be to get a first appointment using LinkedIn, creating thought leadership by posting blog content or liking a client's products and service on Facebook, is your intent clear and are you achieving your goals?
Next, are you reaching the audience you desire to reach? If you have a network of 500+ connections or a Twitter following in the tens of thousands, are you able to communicate your ideas, concerns or convictions effectively? Depending on the occasion, some social media is better than others and in some cases not at all. I feel this applies most within many steps of the sales process.
Not all social media users are created equal. Be aware and conscious of those who are more comfortable interacting within social media than others. And at the end of the day, face-to-face may yield better results.
Face-to-face meetings can offer a level of interaction that technology can't.
Human interaction offers the opportunity to experience non-verbal communication and to respond in real-time. This is extremely important when attempting to:
Ask great needs-analysis questions
Present bright ideas
Propose buyable solutions
Negotiate the final sale
Sure, video conferencing offers an opportunity to read and react to nonverbal cues, but not at the expense of possible disruption and, again, some people just aren't comfortable using technology this way. However, even if the people you are communicating with are comfortable using video conferencing, many studies indicate that we desire human interaction in business and the results are more positive and rewarding for both buyer and seller when we have the chance to meet face-to-face during the sales process.
So when using social media for professional brands, new business development and client relations, I recommend a mix of both technology and live engagement. Depending on how effective you are at either social media or face-to-face meetings, you can decide for yourself what that mix looks like for you.
Regardless of the mix, don't neglect face-to-face at some point in the sales process, and make sure you continue to achieve your desired outcomes from the audiences you wish to influence.