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Five Ways to Socialize Your Sales Funnel

There’s nothing new about social selling. When has selling been anything but social? Today there are new tools, though -- social networks and sites that now serve as channels for a company's overall sales strategy. Of course, effective social selling involves more than creating a Facebook account and collecting a flock of Twitter followers. It’s not a round-peg-square-hole situation -- it’s more about understanding how the new social landscape fits into the traditional funnel. Here are five ways to make the transition seamless:

1. Understand your company’s sales funnel. It’s unique.

You know your prospects best. Hopefully you’ve seen a lot of them convert into customers. What are their patterns of behavior? What insights have you and your team gleaned from studying them? Leads as a result of social media interactions are unlikely to follow the same pattern through the sales funnel as leads from other sources.

For example, many times you are reaching potential customers through social media earlier in the sales process, widening the entrance to the funnel. This is an advantage because you have the chance to engage prospects ahead of your competition. However, because social media leads perform differently, they are often overlooked and it’s easier to miss opportunities. To avoid this, be ready to adapt your unique funnel to the social media sales process. Ask questions like these:

  • Will social sales leads respond to the existing sales process?
  • Where are they in the buying process and will they convert at the same rate as traditional leads?
  • With existing customers, was there a “wow” moment on their journey to the sale?

Social media is still new and uncharted territory in many ways. Being able to efficiently slice and dice data, analyze the buyer journey, and reproduce results will be a priceless competitive advantage.

2. Make conversion stupidly easy.

Customer expectations are high. As customers, we all believe we should be pampered. (Come on, you know it’s true.) If we have to figure out how to buy your product, if we have to click and hunt, we will feel disrespected, and will likely move on. It’s incumbent on brands to do everything possible to study and improve the path to a sale.

Removing customer barriers is as easy as going through all your entry points as if your were a customer. How much easier can you make it for them? Be ready to welcome customers at the places where conversion is likely to occur -- or any of the places where customers might want to connect to your brand. How many times have you wanted to follow a company on a social channel, but had to search for the icon? This kind of barrier is easy to remove.

3. Don't ignore soft conversion.

Social media opens up a huge opportunity for engagement with followers who may not be ready to buy, but are interested in your content. Content keeps people interested, and builds trust and credibility. Content can keep your brand top-of-mind. Start with small conversions -- turning followers into email subscribers establishes a relationship that can grow over time.

4. Use quality content to build trust.

Yes, providing quality content through your blog, ebooks, webinars, tip sheets, syndicated guest posts, and email campaigns will help build trust and push along the decision-making process. Conversely, traditional marketing emails can kill the sale with a social media buyer. Create and disseminate content that builds trust. This is not the time for “selling.” This is the time for helping, unselfishly.  Some tips:

  • You can get a head start on marketing by answering common questions, so know the top five questions people ask and be prepared to wax eloquent on them.
  • Make sure that those top five questions are getting the most attention in your knowledge base, on your website, and in tutorials.
  • Without being too self-serving, always provide a path for a prospect to take to get closer to your brand. Put contact methods front and center. Give people a choice of ways to reach out for help -- email, phone, and chat each have distinct advantages.

5. Measure the results.

What social sales strategies are the most effective? Using analytics software (there are lots of them out there), measure the ROI and the effectiveness of your sales funnel in terms of:

  • cost per impression
  • cost per engagement
  • cost per soft lead
  • cost per hard lead
  • cost per sale

Metrics can be challenging, but it’s possible to gather the actionable data you need, study trends over time, and adjust course.

The pressure is on to quantify social media strategies. Revenue generation is always a top priority, but social sales also involves the establishment of credibility. It goes way beyond the old-fashioned sales pitch. At the core of social sales is relationship building. Truly understanding this will help you adapt your sales funnel to the social arena.

Visit the Nimble blog for more customer-focused social tips.

customer_focused, sales_funnel, social_selling, Tech Marketing Smarts Blog