How often do you make a purchase that you don’t fully understand? I know I do all the time.
If my house needs a new roof, I have to hire roofers who will provide the materials and complete the installation. But I know nothing about roofing! How do I make an informed decision about who to hire or what kind of roof would be best for my house? I’ll do research. I’ll become a self-educated buyer and try to learn more about roofing, roofers, etc. But ultimately, I’ll have to trust someone else’s advice and expertise. This is the foundation of any successful social selling approach.
Every day, people buy products and services that they don’t really understand. They hope that they’re choosing the best option, and that they don’t make a mistake. Seeking to make an informed decision, self-educating buyers turn to the internet and their social media accounts to do research to learn as much as possible about the product. But ultimately, they have to trust someone else to show them the way.
This self-educating phenomenon is great news for companies invested in social selling, because it leaves ample room for anyone to be viewed as an expert in their field, and in turn gain customers who trust that expertise.
Show what you know.
If you’ve been working in your industry for a while, you likely are already an expert in your field. In your neighborhood or within your family, you are the go to person for that particular industry—because you live, eat and breathe it every day. Right?
But when a prospective customer views your company’s website, do they see that expertise? Are you sharing your knowledge and information in a digitally accessible way? By creating helpful, searchable online content that answers common questions about your product or field, you can easily develop that expert reputation to extend far beyond your friends and family circle.
Be willing to help.
Part of what makes an expert is a willingness to help, even when that help won’t immediately close a sale. Truly helpful content with no visible sales pitch or ulterior motive creates a feeling of expertise in the mind of the reader. The prospect will start thinking of you as a resource, and will remember your help in the future when they have a need for your product or service.
Resist the urge to sell.
When creating informational content, it can be tough to resist the natural tendency to turn on the sales pitch. But remember, your immediate goal isn’t to close a sale—so take your salesperson hat off. Simply provide information, the same way you would to a friend or relative who knows that you know the industry, but who you aren’t expecting to buy from you. This low pressure approach, we call it Aikido Selling, lets prospects gather information in a low pressure atmosphere, making them even more willing to send you those all important buying signals.
Track buying signals.
Developing a reputation as an expert isn’t the only benefit to generating great, helpful online content. By tracking what types of content a prospect is consuming on your site, you’ll be able to gather important information about the prospect’s exact needs, wants and pain points — buying signals that you can leverage in your sales cycle.
Back to my roofing example—imagine that in my research about my new roof, I visit a particular roofing company’s site and start reading several articles about fire protection.
First, because the roofing company has provided great content about fire protection in roofing, I know that this company is an expert on that issue. Then, having tracked what kind of content I’ve been consuming, a representative of the roofing company, can call me and naturally address the fireproofing issue in our conversation without having to ask any qualifying questions.
It’s like the salesperson read my mind! And because I have already noted this company as an expert resource because of my interactions with their content, I’m much more likely to look to them for my roofing needs.
People trust experts.
Because expertise is defined by the buyer, not the seller. It’s up to the consumer to decide who is an expert based on the information a company shares, the insights it provides, and the quality of work that they review.
By sharing what you know without expectation of anything in return, you’ll create a relationship with prospects that makes you their go-to resource when they’re ready to make a purchase.
This approach makes you the Top of Mind Preference provider and puts you or your company in a far better position to win the customer’s business when the time to buy strikes.