Social selling success hinges on building trust.
As Linked Into Business proprietor Viveka Von Rosen puts it, “Social media platforms do not lend themselves to a hard sell. But they are a great place to engage and develop true business relationships based on familiarity and trust.”
People in the western world are exposed to thousands of advertising messages per day. When they head to social media to find out more about business solutions, the last thing they want to see is a high-pressure sales pitch. That’s why building relationships of trust with prospects on social media requires that you forget about closing that sale for a while and instead focus on providing value.
When your prospects are in the earlier stages of their buyer journeys, what they are really after is help alleviating their pain points and getting the information they need – so they can make better decisions. This is where you come in: offer your two cents and become their valued friend.
By sharing your wisdom on the topics relating to your product, you are not only showing them your expertise but also proving that you can be trusted to guide them in the right direction. When you’re able to position yourself as a go-to resource, you know you have gained their trust, and your interactions start to bring your prospects towards sales-readiness.
However, this does not come easy. There are certain things that salespeople have been known to do that kill trust, obliterating any relationship equity that you’ve built and destroying any chances that your prospects will be open to engaging with you in the future.
Let’s take a look at five of the most common trust-killers.
1. Pitching Too Early
Asking people to make purchases before they’re ready is probably the most prevalent and lethal trust-killer among social sellers. Even just talking about your product and how awesome it is without first understanding what your prospect wants can cause damage. The truth is, even if your prospect is sales-qualified, he or she might still be turned off by receiving pitches right off the bat.
The problem starts when you operate under the assumption that your product or service is just what your leads need. Soon you find yourself trying to convince them that they have a problem and in the same breath offering a solution they are supposed to love. They’ll end up feeling repelled, and they’ll take their business elsewhere. Don’t feel lucky if you somehow manage to trick someone into buying – a sale that results from resentment is not likely to yield customer satisfaction.
The problem with pitching too early is that B2B buyers want to feel like they’ve got a partner in the other end of the transaction; one who truly understands their needs and who will see to their success. It makes intuitive sense that the problem comes before the solution. Don’t try to sell a solution you believe can solve a problem they might or might not have.
Pitching too early fosters resentment and resistance, prompting your contacts to object to everything you share. Suddenly, every product benefit you describe seems like something they don’t need. In short, they don’t believe there is anything you offer that could be of value to them.
2. Not Listening to Your Prospects
Are you really listening to what your prospects are telling you? No, it isn’t just a cliché – the importance of listening can’t be overstated. When engaging in discussion via social media, your leads are likely to reveal important clues that will guide how you nurture your relationship. They’ll tell you about their position in the sales cycle, what’s important to them, what features they can’t do without, what alternatives they’re considering, why they like what they like, who the relevant stakeholders are on their end and what their most pressing pain points are. Make sure you pay attention.
Too many salespeople “listen” as a formality, not truly trying to learn everything they can about what will and won’t resonate with a given lead. These non-listeners either try to convince their prospects to look at things differently – which is likely to turn the prospect off – or don’t try at all.
This type of behaviour only creates a barrier between you and your prospects. As you continue to disregard what they say and focus on embellishing the superiority of your product, you’re just making them feel like they need to defend themselves from you. Before you know it, you’re locked out.
3. Leaving Cryptic Voicemails
Sometimes salespeople leave voicemails for prospects with zero context or agenda stated – just the sales rep’s name, phone number and a request for a call back. It’s an underhanded way to get someone to speak with you under the guise that it was their initiative. Don’t do it.
At first it might seem like a bright idea, but it’s not. In the days when all business was conducted in person or on the phone, this type of thing might have worked, but nowadays most people won’t call you back if you don’t state clearly in the voicemail why you are calling. They need to know if calling you is worth their time, and if you can’t let them know upfront what it is then they simply assume it’s not worth following up.
Yes, sometimes they might call back just to be sure nothing bad has happened to some long-lost aunt or cousin. But once you start telling them about your product, they will feel like you’ve duped them and they’ll shut you off.
4. Talking About Irrelevant Product Features
At some point, while answering a prospect’s question or demonstrating what your product can do, you might be tempted to talk about some other feature in the product that you think will be impressive, forgetting that your lead doesn’t care in the least about it.
This could be because you are too focussed on your product, or you are simply clueless about what the prospect needs exactly. When interacting with prospects via social media, make sure that you always keep in mind what specifically they want. As stated above, this requires paying attention to what they tell you, but there are other signals that you can pay attention to. For example, Leadfeeder’s log of pages visited comes in handy to help you understand what interests your prospects and what doesn’t.
In your social-selling conversations, you always want prospects to feel like you’re addressing their pain points. If something you post makes them pause and wonder about its relevance, then you’re already causing friction. Telling people about an aspect of your product that isn’t an obvious solution to their pain-points problem only reveals how self-centred you are. This is a major trust-killer.
5. Being Too Eager To Please
Before you start selling, you need to know exactly what your product can and can’t do, or you’ll risk under-delivering. Salespeople fall into this trap mostly because they want to wow their prospects into closing. You need to remember that in the end, customers want to see results. If your product doesn’t live up to the expectations you set during the earlier stages of social media engagement, you’ll eventually lose the client.
Again, the importance of active listening is highlighted here. You need to understand how deep problems run in order to determine how effectively your product can solve them. If it’s outside the scope of what your company can handle, then you’re better off not closing that sale. Move on.
Prospects don’t need you to thrill them with what you might do for them one day in the indefinite future. They just want you to do what you said you would – assuming that it solves their problem. And the sooner you realise the nuances of your customer’s needs, the sooner you’ll be able to make promises that your product can ultimately keep.
What Would a Social Selling Master Do?
Social selling masters understand the need to cultivate relationships before pitching. Building trust, authority and thought leadership is where it all starts. And when the time comes, you’ll know when and how to pitch, because you’ve actively listened to your prospects.
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