For years we have been talking about being a student of your industry, I hope you were taking notes because now we are about to level up! Whereas in the past, being a student of your industry was widely accepted as doing enough, this next level of selling (social selling) will require you to participate in the conversation, or as Sean Roberts of Ensono said so well – we need to become stewards of our industry. This means that we move beyond merely studying our industry, to participating with our own observations and insights.
It has been said that our customers are drowning in information, but that they are starved of. Insight can be a tricky and misunderstood concept as many struggle to find the difference between the two. Insight is the result of your studies and your experience interacting with one another because your experience is unique to you, the insights that you share will be equally as unique. So, while the information that is available in your sector may not be original, the insight you bring is entirely yours.
This is a giant leap for many salespeople and marketing teams, and there can be no doubt that it takes courage! You need to be ready and willing to share your ideas and own your thoughts – if you have not been highly active or vocal on your platforms before, then this is a clear call for you to step out of the shadows and stand in the light as you begin to own and share your ideas, observations and insights in a way that is helpful and caring to your clients.
You will need a regular discipline of setting aside time to read, digest, curate and share information about your industry and the trends and challenges you see that are shaping your sector and impacting your customers. In doing so you are laying a solid foundation and set yourself up to create powerful credibility for yourself.
What should I write about?
This is a question we get a lot. We tend to overthink the content, you do not need to create a whitepaper – just start by sharing a well-constructed short article. Consider what is helpful for your prospects, what challenges are they currently facing, and what would they need more information on right now?
For example in our business, we know that the banks are having a challenge doing compliance training remotely and we are in the process now of creating content that speaks to that problem as we are able to provide fully accredited compliance training through our mobile app.
Or for example, let us say you were selling accounting software for dentists. You would not write about ten tips for cleaning teeth, however, you would write something along the lines of ‘Ten Ways for Dentists to Increase their Margins during COVID_19’, or ‘Five Great Ways to reach New Dental Patients’ for example.
Creating these sorts of articles assists your customers while positioning you in a place of trust. By sharing useful, relevant content and tips you can help people to see value in what you offer, but more than that, you are giving them the experience of working with you.
The article can be short, but you must always offer value to your readers, focus on their problem and do not write something about how great your company is, or how you can save them money if they are with you – that is selling, and what we are trying to do here is to educate them on a problem that either they don't know that they have, or a problem that they know they have but are unsure on how to resolve.
If you educate somebody on a problem that they have - you do not need to tell them how great you are and how you can solve that problem, they will ask you for the information. This does not mean that we never ask for the order - of course not! But we never move to ask for the order until we know we have firmly established the problem in the hearts and minds of our clients, and that they can see the solution we present.
This does not need to be complicated; you do not need to write a 3000-word article, it can be something short as long as it is helpful. 300 words or 400 words is enough, even if you are not a great writer, there is an easy way to do this.
Create a list of problems that your customers have. Think of a title, something that grabs attention and if you have no ideas then look for things that could be interesting to your leads, and once you have the article idea, jot down the points you want to make and either hand it to a skilled copywriter to flesh out for you, or flesh it out yourself.
Remember you can get a lot of traction out of just one well-constructed piece. Just focus on producing one or maximum two outstanding pieces of content in a month, and then building the rest of your engagements around that content.
Should I share other people’s content?
Yes, of course, you should. Sharing other industry professionals’ articles or work is also a great way to go about getting seen and noticed on social media platforms, provided that the piece you are sharing is insightful and informative, and that you always attribute the sources.
How many pieces should I start with?
I suggest having at least 3 or 4 articles on your website, or your platforms to start with – just something to fill the space. From that, you can keep adding and growing what you have but to begin, load a few pieces of content to show that you have something there.
Make use of Google, make use of voice dictation services like those that come free with Microsoft, and if you are a business owner make use of a skilled copywriter - if you don't have a big budget do it on a per-project basis through a platform like Fiverr.
I hope that this inspires you to make a start or to increase your efforts towards creating meaningful content.
Every Wednesday at 5 pm I will be hosting a [email protected] where we continue the social selling conversation on Facebook. For inspiration and motivation follow me @shelleywaltersinc on Instagram and finally for B2B social selling conversations follow me on LinkedIn @Shelley_Walters
We would like to acknowledge Sean Roberts from Ensono for his contributions and insights into the creation of this series.