What goals does your business’ sales team have right now? Here’s a hint: If you want to lead the field in sales this year: your focus needs to be on building digital leadership and digital transformation.
The first and most important thing to remember is that great salespeople are still 100% necessary in a digital world.
Just because digital growth has changed way we sell, doesn’t mean we don’t still need a great sales team. But the tools your sales and marketing teams use to reach out to and convert prospects have changed and evolved. In this blog, I’m going to show you a few things that could help any size of business, from SME to corporate, stay on top of their digital sales game.
But first, I want to share a story with you.
My very first job was selling; working in my parents’ shop selling wicker furniture (it was very popular in the 1980s!). Then I got my first full-time job in telesales. Well, I say job. It was a commission only role so I had to learn the art of cold calling pretty quickly. You sell, you eat…
After moving to London to become a professional hip-hop dancer and running a drum and bass club in Covent Garden (all by the age of 22), I decided to start my own business and won a grant from the Princess Youth Business trust which enabled me to I buy my very first computer.
But after five years of running my own businesses I was burnt out at 27. It was then that I realised my strength was in sales and went to work with Disney products in China, where I achieved $1 million sales in a month.
When the recession hit in 2007, it was time to leave China and the corporate world and take my sales experience digital.
I share this story with you because every single thing I have achieved since then has been as a result of being focused as a salesperson on digital leadership.
Yes, the landscape has changed massively in the last 10 years. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that, no matter how large or small your company, people still buy from people.
So what does this mean for you as a business leader, and how can you develop your digital leadership?
The first thing to acknowledge is that the sales pipeline is still 100% relevant, but you need to understand the way it works in a digital world. I’m going to show you a digital-age way to embrace selling – specifically what we call ‘social selling’.
This is broadly what the media map looks like these days. Of course, within ‘networks’, there are dozens of different ones, but these are the main and most important places to be. You will know which social networks are most relevant to your customer base. (As the founder or CEO of your company, of course you know this, right?)
Social selling involves finding the sweet-spot where owned media, paid media and earned media overlap
The social selling funnel
In this important sense, digital sales is no different from traditional, offline sales. You still need to know exactly who you’re talking and marketing to, and you’re still looking to generate a large number of prospects, to turn into leads and then customers.
Whilst you’re not talking to anyone face to face, you still need to know the basics about them – in particular what they need that you can help them with.
In social selling, social media platforms give you great opportunities to start talking to people, having conversations, and finding out what keeps them awake at night.
In a social selling environment, there are clear steps to take. As we’ve already seen, there are several main ones, but to keep this simple, let’s use LinkedIn as an example.
Using content to generate LinkedIn traffic
Your sales team’s first essential for social selling is content. Relevant, engaging content will get attention and drive traffic to engage with your brand.
Remember that, just like Google, LinkedIn operates on an algorithm. Once you understand how that works, working with it becomes a lot simpler.
First, understand how different types of content rank in your chosen social platform in terms of importance for generating the most brand awareness:
Text. Posting text updates within LinkedIn is the most important way to raise your brand’s profile.
Videos are the second most important type of content on LinkedIn.
Followed by images.
Articles come 4th. If your marketing team is already writing articles for your company’s blog or website, the good news is they don’t need to write new content. I take the articles that sit on my website and syndicate them within LinkedIn which drives traffic.
But, and this is important, LinkedIn wants to keep you, and your contacts, inside it. So make sure that those posts are NOT taking people out of LinkedIn. There should NOT be a link out of your articles to an external website. If you are putting a CTA link that takes people elsewhere, put it in the comments box afterwards, not in the post.
How to appear on the front page of LinkedIn.
Of course it helps if people can find you easily, and that they know how you are relevant to their needs. So your LinkedIn profile needs to be optimised. This applies both to your company’s profile and the individual profiles for you and your key people – especially if you want to build your own profile as an influencer and thought leader in your industry. (And why wouldn’t you?)
If there’s one thing that business of all sizes – from SMEs to corporates – all struggle with, it’s the concept of offering ONE thing. My focus, for example, is on digital transformation. So I use the words ‘digital transformation’ in my headline, my summary information and my skills. This ensures that I always come up on the first page of LinkedIn.
My knowledge and experience extends far beyond that, of course. But if I try to tell people everything I can help them with, they get confused and switch off. So I focus on that one thing. Digital transformation.
Get clear about your brand’s vision and your focus, and make sure all related profiles reflect that.
There’s an interesting trust-building tool, which allows people to vote on your profile photo according to how they see you (and you to vote on theirs). It will give you a good idea of how professional, approachable and influential your profile photo appears. (And yes, you can use it to rate your social and dating photos, too!)
Once you’ve got people engaging with your brand’s content, you need to pay attention to who they are. Who is that that is expressing interest in what you have to offer – by commenting, reviewing, or downloading the materials you offer?
Are they the people you want to attract? It’s possible you might be attracting a group you weren’t deliberately targeting. A sign of strong digital sales leadership is that you or your sales team will recognise and encourage these new prospects (without forgetting your original target market).
And now you need to start having conversations – warming people up. If they’re commenting, is someone responding? If they share your information, are you there with them? By engaging with your visitors, you’ll turn them into prospects and, later customers. Remember that these days, the average number of touch-points as increased to 9.2 – and your team needs to nurture your prospects through all of them.
So to summarise, here are my 5 tips for establishing digital leadership on your chosen social selling platforms:
Optimise your profile. Here’s another tip ‘for free’: knowledge isn’t power. All the knowledge in the world is no good unless you act on it. So go and do it now.
Focus on keywords that define who you are and what you do
When posting content, do not put links in posts but put them in comments. Most social platforms want you to stay native.
Nurture leads by engaging them in meaningful conversations
Give people an amazing customer experience at every touchpoint, whether it’s a personal or digital interaction.
Watch out for a blog later when I’ll be showing you some of the amazing tools I’ve found to help you build up your digital leadership on your key social selling platforms and transform your business.
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Warren Knight is an award-winning keynote speaker a top 100 Global Influencer and top 100 Tech Influencer, he’s internationally recognised as a speaker, trainer and coach on Digital Leadership & Digital Transformation, with nearly 15 years digital experience he’s an award-winning technology entrepreneur, certified Agile leader and author of Think #Digital First. His vision is to, by 2035, help 1,000,000 leaders globally build a workplace based on culture, community, and technology for generation Alpha.