There’s a lot of hype around social media that may be making it out to be some magic flying carpet that will immediately elevate your company to the Fortune 500.
Unfortunately, there are no magic solutions in business. Hard work, focus, organization, and tangible results are what drives the bottom line.
Jeff Molander didn’t just believe the hype, so he set out to find out for himself the truth behind social media, and Make Social Media Sell was born.
He took a moment to talk to us about combining time-honored business practices with cutting-edge innovations, letting us know what works and what doesn’t.
What made you decide to start Make Social Media Sell?
Skepticism. Social media is an integral part of our lives. But is it really causing a business revolution? I kept asking myself as a seller, “How much of this is hype and how much is actually working?” Let’s take your everyday life. Has the way you sell fundamentally changed? Should it? More importantly, is social media increasing your success? Or is it just another time-wasting fad?
These questions, as well as my own lack of success, was what started it. The hunger to know what works is also what keeps me going.
To be blunt, there’s too much nonsense posing as business advice lately. These broken promises are coming from business gurus who are riding a new technology wave. But the truth is most of “what works” today is what has always worked: copywriting. Sorry, gurus. There has been no social media revolution. There is only an evolution – toward applying old-school copywriting techniques online.
Frankly, there isn’t much money in that fact for business gurus. That’s why they work so hard at convincing us of a revolution that doesn’t exist. It sells a lot of books and sounds exciting.
What was your background before you started the site?
I started my business after co-founding an affiliate network that was later acquired by Google. Before that, I was in sales and marketing. I “fell into” sales training lately because what I discovered dramatically changed my own business. Short story: I researched how today’s top sellers are using social media to sell – not engage, but sell. It was so effective for me personally that I decided to teach it for a living. Today, I help sellers get appointments faster using a systematic approach to social media. I teach what I learned as part of my own research: a faster way to set appointments using a proven system.
How important is social media for sales these days?
That’s a loaded question! There is a movement out there of “experts” claiming that social media is not to be used for sales. You know, the social media marketing police! I suppose those of us generating leads and sales using blogs, LinkedIn and such should stop? That would be bad business. It would also slow down our ability to bring wealth and joy to customers.
As the saying goes, what’s more important than making the sale when it comes to running a business? Nothing. This is what scares a lot of marketers. I think they fear people who actually track ROI. I’m referring to any good salesperson. This is why some marketers are militant about telling us, “You cannot sell on social media.”
They don’t want us to because they have failed to prove their worth on social media. They’ve been reduced to faux metrics like “Return on Engagement” or superficial measures like shares, likes and views.
What are some ways that people can tailor a sales or marketing campaign for social media?
What if selling on social media was as easy as sparking buyers’ curiosity in you? Getting them to ask the questions you have answers to. Not tricking them. Helping them get comfortable with the idea of buying from you. What if we could rely on a time-tested, proven, effective way to create sales online? We can. With copywriting.
If your campaign isn’t structured to include a direct response element, you’re sunk. Social selling takes what already works, brings it online and improves it using direct response marketing principles.
Social media can be used to attract, engage and provoke a response that begins a courtship (lead nurturing) process. I admit, that last part is tricky for most sellers. They get bogged down in the engagement piece. They start counting likes, followers, and re-tweets. These are all pointless metrics if they do not connect to a systematic approach to earning a response (capturing a lead).
Customers don’t want to hear a good story from you. They want their problems fixed. They want their fears to stop nagging them. So, if you do tell a story, it needs to lead somewhere meaningful; namely, something the buyer can take action on. And that something should connect to a lead generation and nurturing process. Of course, it could also lead them away from you, which is also helpful.
In your experience, which social media network is most useful for sales?
They are all useful. It depends on what you’re selling. Jewelry? Pinterest is probably going to be best. Suntan lotions and tanning retailers? Facebook. But there are wildcards like pre-fab metal buildings. Steelmaster is generating leads for their do-it-yourself structures right on their Facebook page.
Business-to-business sellers are doing well with LinkedIn Groups and InMail. ADP is a great social selling example. They’re using Twitter and LinkedIn. PostCardMania.com used LinkedIn to document $72,000 in sales over 12 months. I have clients who sell really odd services like precious metal reclamation for dentists; you know, companies that melt down gold and precious metals from extracted teeth! They’re doing a bang-up business on LinkedIn. This stuff is happening all the time behind the scenes.
Overall, sellers want to know, “WHY should I spend time on social media?” Practically speaking, they are asking, “Where do I start and with what specific goal in mind?” Many front line sellers are skeptical and hesitant because they believe social media is something for their marketing people to work on to help spread the word and create a brand image. But it’s useful for sales too.
You wrote a post recently advising against sending LinkedIn connection requests as a way of generating sales leads. Why is that? What are some ways that people can use LinkedIn for marketing?
What’s the difference between a successful sales rep and one who struggles at prospecting new business? It often comes down to your ability to give prospects an irresistible reason to talk. That doesn’t depend at all on having a connection on LinkedIn.
Equally important, let’s say you are sending connection requests as your first point of contact. If your connection requests are not accepted by people often enough, LinkedIn will remove your ability to make them. It’s against LinkedIn’s terms and conditions to ask for links to people you don’t already know. Besides, being connected with prospects is more useful for nurturing them and less effective for earning appointments or starting relationships. There are better ways to earn appointments, fast.
It is best to initiate contact with a prospect off of LinkedIn, then connect on LinkedIn to nurture the conversation forward. This takes full advantage of what connections give you, and avoids any risk of being restricted.
Remember, your ability to give prospects an irresistible reason to talk is what will make you successful or not. It has nothing to do with your being connected!
Also, if you’re using InMail, here’s an InMail best practice most people don’t know. You should not ask new prospects for a call/meeting in your initial email or InMail message.
Make Social And Sell features a Sales Force Training module. What are some of the things that you cover in this course?
Any good LinkedIn training for sales professionals should teach how to create an urge in the potential customer to talk to you, not just how to use LinkedIn’s system.
When prospecting, your goal is to create an urge in the potential customer to talk. If you don’t create that urge, you don’t get to talk with them. Period. So that’s what I teach: an effective, copyable process to help prospects feel honestly curious about how you can help them. For example, you want them to wonder how you can solve a problem, relieve a pain, avoid a risk or fast-track a goal for them.
Today’s best social sellers use a process. They structure words to generate leads faster. This structuring of words is what copywriting is all about. Anyone can learn it.
The systematic approach helps customers:
- believe there is a better way (via short-form social content)
- realize they just found part of it (using longer-form content) and
- act – taking a first step toward what they want (giving the seller a lead)
I teach this approach. It’s a lot of fun.
How important are things like brand trust and loyalty to the world of social media sales, and what are some ways that companies can foster these?
Being trusted is the output of successful strategy. It’s not the strategy itself (although we are told it is by “experts”). Increased trust is a sign your sellers are applying a social selling process effectively.
Since the dawn of time, trust and loyalty have mattered. Social media changes nothing. Since the beginning of commercial trade, customers have had the power. Social media just amplifies it and makes wielding the power easier. Today, we foster trust and loyalty the same way we always have: through superior product/service experiences. Social media reflects; it doesn’t help build your brand, because your brand is what customers assign you, not what a marketing department creates. Brand is based not on ads or feelings, but on qualitative outcomes produced by products. Of course, many marketers reject this reality and still cling to brand as something they spend budget dollars creating. Foster trust and loyalty by doing trustworthy deeds. Let’s face it: that idea has nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with your product!
How can social media affect people’s search engine rankings, and why is this important? How can this be converted into greater sales?
Social “signals” are monitored by search engines like Google; however, Google doesn’t discuss how they judge or weigh those signals. The best way to get landing, product and content (blog) pages ranked higher by search engines is to participate in social media. But don’t over-think it. And don’t spend a lot of time trying to game the system (or hire someone who will do it for you). Google will always shoot you down! It is best to focus more on structuring your blog content using copywriting and tried-and-true SEO practices that make your content more discoverable both by Google and by humans visiting your site.
Obviously, social media is important, but how important are things like blog posts and quality content on a website for sales?
Every piece of content you write should make the reader/viewer (potential buyer) crave more. That content needs to live somewhere. That somewhere is your blog. You have an array of social media available to you. So your job is to figure out which platforms potential customers are using – i.e., which ponds to go fishing in – and focus on moving prospects from those ponds over to your world. This world is comprised of your content on your blog, your video or your long-form content; so you can convince them to become a lead.
Social media is very much about short attention spans. So copywriting is essential. You’ve got to be good at it. You must start writing on social platforms and grab customers’ attention, then direct them toward something “meaty.” Not just a landing page. Not just your lead generation offer. Something of substance. Something that gets the buyer more interested in opting-into a journey you’ll take them on in your lead nurturing process.
The words we write on our long-form content need to convince customers that we are worth trading their personal information for in order to earn the lead. Otherwise, everything you do on your web site and social media will be wasted.
Start thinking of your blog as the social media lead generation hub. Effective copywriting on social platforms feeds your blog with visitors. It primes skeptical, demanding customers for your call-to-action.
And remember, every piece of content makes the reader crave more. If it doesn’t, you’re sunk!
Can you give us a few quick tips for selling on Facebook? How about Twitter?
Overall, stop thinking about the platform. Start thinking about provoking a response that connects to a pre-meditated courtship process.
a) Focus on headlines. Write, update, post, blog, YouTube (etc) headlines that your target market cannot resist acting on. Make buyers so curious that they cannot resist clicking. Then make sure they become more curious by writing copy that irritates or excites them into taking an action (i.e., becoming a lead). Provoke them. Say something they’ve never heard before in a way that makes them crave more from you.
b) Forget about engagement, think process. Start with the end in mind. Think systematically. Attention and engagement are NOT the goal. Generating a lead is the goal. Think this way: first, what action do you want the buyer to take in reaction to what you just wrote/posted on social media? Next, why do you want this action to be taken? Then consider why the buyer would actually do want them to do. Finally, consider what happens when they actually do what you want them to do. (i.e. how do they become a lead?)
c) Give people choice. Stand out. Shock your prospects. Write content and social media updates in ways that give them a choice. Don’t command them to do something with a call-to-action. For example, try saying, ‘This free trial will help you, but the choice is yours.’ Affirming the right of your prospect to choose gives them freedom. It disarms them from being pitched something.
d) Be brief, blunt & basic. A good copywriter can help buyers realize that they’ve found something extraordinary (from you on social media). Be sure to always:
- Get to the point immediately
- Say something new and useful
- Don’t say too much too fast; instead, get them hungry for more detail
Think of it like a date. Don’t smother the person you’re trying to woo. If you do, they won’t have any chance to wonder or ask you what’s on their mind. It’s the same with buyers. Encourage them by telling them just enough to make them curious about the rest: the details you secretly want to talk about with them.
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