Nurture Your Network and Be in Service to Your Customers

5 minute read

This final blog in our five part series focuses on nurturing your network and being in service to your customers.

Jill Rowley is a thought leader in the field of social selling. When she was a rep at Salesforce she would seek out content, read articles, summarise them into bullet points and share these insights with her clients and prospects. Customers returned Jill’s calls because they would learn and benefit from those interactions long before Twitter and LinkedIn became dominant digital business networks.

Once you have a network in place, it must be nurtured. Like listening, this must become routine.

Be Social

Like or comment on status updates, congratulate on promotions, notice birthdays, congratulate your connections when business is good and reach out to help when challenges emerge. Use Twitter Direct Messages or LinkedIn InMail when you want to make the conversation one-to-one but almost all conversations should be conducted publicly unless there is a good reason not to.

Participate

Take part in LinkedIn Groups, Twitter Live Chats, Google Hangouts and the comments section of key blogs. Reply to questions to help and to demonstrate your expertise. Your network is probably taking part so the more visible you are the better.

Find appropriate content. You will make good use of materials from your marketing team but there will be material that originates from independent sources that might be equally, sometimes more relevant. Like Rowley, carefully selecting the content, adding context and crafting it specifically for your audience is a valuable piece of curation that will be welcomed by your community.

Professional social seller tools find suitable content and make sharing easy.

  • All insights from social and editorial sources can be shared. Hover over the piece of insight and a series of social gestures become visible so that you can quickly post to LinkedIn, Twitter or just via email
  • Build a watchlist of the competitors of your key customers. It is a great way of understanding and sharing what is happening in their market more generally.

Contribute

More important than participating is making a contribution.

Offer insight, opinion, contribute to the conversation and highlight your expertise. Whilst offering ‘free’ advice seems counterintuitive to the traditional seller, the social seller knows that they are giving to get. They are building up their reputation and influence in a community that will ultimately include their customers.

Also create content that shows you are knowledgeable about your industry and attuned to your customers needs. Share articles, white papers, infographics across all of your digital networks so that you remain top of mind to customers and prospective customers discover you as they build awareness in their own buying and decision making process.

Making a Contribution

  • Keep it short. Use a URL shortener. This leaves more space for your microblog and allows you to track responses
  • It is not all Home Grown. Share independent content as well as that from your marketing team
  • Rinse and Repeat. You can share content more than once in Twitter. Most dip into and out of their Twitter streams so repeat (but not too often)
  • Give to get. B2B Buyers do lean towards vendors that supply relevant and quality content

Be in Service to your customers

As business buyers are typically more cautious about their decision making process than consumers. Reputations and careers are at stake. Three quarters of buyers look for social proof, that is to say that they reach out to their social network, as part of making purchasing decisions. The more senior the decision maker, the more likely this is according to IDC who report that 84% of C Level Executives similarly reach out to their network. A digital presence is increasingly critical. Relationship building, referrals, recommendations, reputations are all open, transparent and online.

Become a trust partner

This means that those that genuinely act in their customer’s best interest, those that genuinely serve will be rewarded with an on-line reputation that will be a source of new opportunities.

Those that have worked with a customer to a point where they are successful rather than moving on the moment they have a signed order can confidently ask for and usually receive referrals. When we receive exceptional service, we want to share the experience with our professional network. A software seller behind a solution that reduced costs for a retailer should feel confident in asking for a written case study. In most cases working with the customer to the point that they have been successful means that seller will also have first hand experience of the issues and lessons learned. This is all great material to be sharing on social channels remembering that it has to be valuable content not PR.

Whilst much has been written about the shift in power from seller to buyer, a Social Seller is looking for parity. Good selling has always required openness, generosity and an abundance mentality. It still does. Selling though is an exchange of value not an act of unconditional giving. Sellers also have to be good stewards of the businesses they represent. Being in service to customers means;

  • Share Success. Share your lessons learned on Twitter, LinkedIn Groups and Blogs
  • Extend your network. Ask for introductions to those in your customers network who might have similar problems
  • Enhance your Reputation. Ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn. For sellers, you should have recommendations from customers not just colleagues and old bosses
  • Target Prospects. Repeat your success, look for prospective customers with the problem you have just solved and then listen to them

Make use of social tools

Use your social tool to serve customers. Every call or meeting should be driven by the customer’s agenda. It does not matter if it is a first meeting or a regular event with a long term customer. It is about them. Use your social tool to prepare. In a single place you are reminded of the most recent social and editorial news, any personal notes or bookmarks and any changes to their finances. Fresh, at-a-glance insights will set the right tone for interacting with customers and demonstrate that you are working in their best interest.

 Do the Right Thing

As it happens there has never been a better time to do the right thing. Daniel Pink, in his book To Sell is Human, concludes that, in an online world, buyers enjoy information parity with sellers.

Today’s buyers are informed and connected. They have review sites and extended digital networks to enlighten themselves about their vendors, their products and their people. Being in service to customers was always the right thing to do but it is now no longer optional.

Professional sellers should pay attention. Those that do not, those that have not caught on to a world that works out loud should take note that the world has changed. According to Pink. It is no longer caveat emptor or buyer beware, it is caveat venditor, seller beware. Online, social and digital networks are changing the buyer-seller dynamic. Face to face meetings are infrequent and happening later in the buyers decision making process. Social sellers, those that adopt the seven habits outlined in our first blog, are agile and take the first steps to proactively building a new, open relationship founded on the success of the customer will find it ultimately a better and more rewarding world.

To download the 7 Habits of Social Sellers and learn how to become an effective social seller and stand out from the crowd go to http://www.artesiansolutions.com/7habits

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Nurture Your Network and Be in Service to Your Customers

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