Each year, the sales world seemingly is bombarded with the hot new trend, worthy or not. No matter the trend, the basics of sales can’t be dropped. The tried and true methods of sales, such as relating to the client and being politely persistent with them, will also carry through amidst the changing world of sales.
Currently, the sales world is being heavily integrated into the industry of social customer relationship management, or social CRM. The industry is growing rapidly with a predicted revenue of $2.1 billion, or 10 percent of all the customer relationship management market, in 2012, according to Gartner. The use of social CRM is gaining in popularity because it allows small- to medium-sized businesses the opportunity to cut costs by providing them with methods to reach clients faster and more effective.
Just because social CRM applications give sales people the opportunity to connect with their customers through the lightning-speed interwebs doesn’t mean they get to drop the basics of sales. The basic tools of sales must compliment social CRM.
Here’s a look at how your old-school style of making a sale can compliment your new school, social CRM-style, and vice versa:
Mix and Match: At the end of the day, clients still need a personal connection to move forward with a sale. They should know who you are beyond the confines of your laptop and social CRM strategies. Yes, use social media and the social CRM apps your company provides to initiate dialogue with the customer and get to know them better. But still take time for a phone call or personal message. Mix and match your old school and new school styles to get a sale.
The new advancements in technology readily available at your fingertips will provide new ways to reach your customer, but it’s never too late to work on your handshake.
Let One Style Compliment the Other: In an op-ed piece for the New York Times, Tom Szaky, chief executive of waste management company TerraCycle, said that the ability to make a sale depends on the sales person’s ability to be concise: He wrote, “When pitching do not use complicated diction. Pride yourself instead on being able to explain the concept as quickly, clearly and simply as possible. This is important because the biggest problem in sales is client confusion. Confusion does not lead to a Yes.”
In sales, being able to communicate clearly to a customer has always been of high value. With social CRM, sales people have the opportunity to be more effective with this common practice than ever before. If you’re using Twitter to communicate with clients, for example, you only have 140 characters to do so. Don’t look at the limitations of social media as a hindrance. Instead, use them as ways to make your pitch as clean and concise as possible.
Find Your Voice: If you choose to engage with a client through social CRM strategies, then you should maintain the same voice or persona you would have initiated if you were meeting with them in person. If you are behind a glaring computer screen, typing away on your mobile device or taking a client out for coffee, you should always be yourself. Interact with the client via social CRM in a natural, conversational tone. The person the client meets should match the person that client cultivated in their head while interacting with you in the social media world.
Be Funny (If You Are): If you are funny, don’t be afraid to use your humor with social CRM when appropriate. Use it to break the ice just as you would when meeting the client at his or her office. Customers like to know there is a real, breathing human, and not a robot, behind your company’s social media presence.
Participate: Certainly, if you aren’t using social CRM when you have the option to, you are defeating the purpose of its existence. Use it to participate in online communities and conversations your customers might be having while maintaining an old-school style approach. Often, the tact used in human-to-human conversations can be lost in online communities, but it’s no excuse to not follow proper sales etiquette: Don’t butt in to the conversation when you shouldn’t. Listen and be respectful. Offer insight when a window opens and be ready to share your pitch when the time is right.
But most importantly…
Don’t Go Overboard: You shouldn’t go overboard with social CRM, just as you shouldn’t nag a client to death with cold calls, requests for meetings and impromptu bump ins. Keep your interaction with the client balanced and respectful, while remaining politely persistent. Don’t hit a client up with constant online messages or requests just because you can so easily with the click of a button. Afterall, the last thing you want to be known as is a spammer.