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Social selling is a strategy in which sales professionals use social media and other online platforms to engage with potential customers, build relationships and drive sales. This usually requires leveraging social networks to share relevant content, establish credibility and connect in a more authentic way.
Historically in the roofing industry, trade shows and other in-person events have been the primary source of gathering leads and staying in front of prospective customers. For many contractors, however, it can be challenging to follow up or close the deal when the show ends to establish a strong customer base. These in-person events can act as a great jumping off point for social selling, often helping nurture more personal relationships to facilitate the sales process and making it easier to follow up on leads.
We have become socialized on a whole new level with media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. Where it used to be an occasional letter to or from grandma, now she is watching your every Facebook post and usually liking or sharing them. As a society, we have made the shift from not only the day-to-day interactions in person or by phone but also socializing through nonstop texting and social media.
As every good salesperson knows, building relationships is critical. Getting to know your customers and building a strong connection with them early on can move the relationship into a long-term career friendship, which is the key to sustainable sales. After meeting potential customers, you can maintain that growing relationship online.
So how do we take the world of social media and turn it into a strong selling tool for business? LinkedIn is one of the best tools for social selling. As an online business tool, it has figured out how to create networks that are socializing every day, easily engaged through mobile and desktop applications.
Amazingly, LinkedIn recently announced that they have reached 500 million users. That is a large network that has infinite possibilities. In fact, they promote that there are billions, yes billions, of professional relationships already established in their network. Yet, the question is does this work for the roofing business?
I currently have close to 2800 connections on LinkedIn. It is my first stop after a tradeshow, connecting with new professionals that I have met on and off the tradeshow floor. I can keep in touch with their careers by setting alerts through sales navigator and learn more about what they are doing in their business and career. It is amazing information and at the same time, I am now sharing my information with them.
The same approach should be used by roofing businesses after home or trade shows and events. Ask the people you meet to follow your company on Facebook so they can track what your company is doing. Also, take the time to look up business professionals on LinkedIn and connect. They are most likely just as interested in learning more about you and your business. Good salespeople know the key to sustainable sales is trust. Trust is built through knowledge and understanding. Social selling offers an easy and non-threatening way to begin building trust.
In fact, we are experiencing a paradigm shift whereas in society we can rapidly poll our contemporaries whether in business or personally and get rapid information and recommendations. In a study by Forrester Research, seventy percent of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising. It is important to become friends with your customers, building comfort and trust so they will share your name or business with their friends.
When it comes to the large expense of a new roof, the natural behavior is now to reach out through research and social media and get recommendations. As a sales or marketing representative for a roofing company, you want to be on the front line of receiving those recommendations, but how do you do it?
As we have talked about before, the first and most important step is for sales and marketing to work together to create a strong presence not only for the company but for individuals on social media. A salesperson’s LinkedIn page is no longer an online resume. It is a sales tool that should be used to create trust and confidence in their expertise in roofing. Whether homeowners or building owners, they want to know that they are working with someone who has their best interests at heart but also experts in what they do and in representing a professional company. Personally, think about how many times your neighbors or friends ask who you would recommend for home improvement projects. When it comes to roofing or additional exterior remodeling it needs to be your name and the name of your company that is top of mind.
It is also the ability to network that makes sites like LinkedIn so powerful. Say that your company is working hard to gain the trust of a local property management team. One of the first steps for a good salesperson is prospecting. Who are the decision makers is the first question that is asked. But another key question up front is how we are potentially already connected. By being committed to a strong network of local and regional business relationships in LinkedIn along with being sure that the overall company is linked to each other the ability to find current connections is easier.
LinkedIn offers upgrades for stronger networking and enterprise sales solutions but even with the free version, sales reps will be able to see easily right away if they have connections with the prospective property management team. By potentially asking closer connections for a warm introduction, you have now passed the cold call or cold email that everyone dreads, salesperson and buyers alike.
Whether your company is residential or commercial, the concept of using social media to introduce, develop and maintain customers is powerful. Look at which social media your customers are using and then take the time to engage them on that platform. It will always be the personal relationship that wins the sale. Trade shows and social media are just a few of the steps to getting there.