I read an interesting article,"The Human Influence in Social Media" by Michael Cohn . He brings up a great point about social media and sales:
"Everyone understands that social media, while it is an extremely valuable tool, cannot do all of the work when it comes to closing a sale. After conversations have taken place and you have been introduced to people with whom you want to do business, only you (the human being) can close the deal."
I agree with Cohn. Social media is a marketing tool and will never replace the personal, human touch when it comes to closing a deal. Unfortunately, some sales professionals still utilize social media to sell their products and services, and come across as blatant, in-your-face spammers. Social media isn't about making the sale then and there on your Facebook or LinkedIn; it's about helping people.
However, there is a place for social media in the sales funnel. Social media strategist Chris Brogan shares that "social tools that promote sharing are a great way to transform customers into evangelists."
For the sales professional, there is definitely an advantage when you take the social media route to promote your company, products and services. In her article "Increase Sales with Social Media", Ellen DePasquale touches upon how social media can shorten your sales cycle and helps you connect faster with your customers:
"Here’s a perfect example of someone taking advantage of social media. I received a phone call several months ago and the first thing I heard was 'I follow you on Twitter' even before she told me her name. She got my attention, and my willingness to listen because I already felt a connection. Are your cold calls that effective? What do you really know about your prospects?"
Social media can definitely improve your sales strategies, and makes it easier for you to engage your customers in authentic, genuine ways. No one is going to buy a product from a person they don't know and trust, and that's where social media comes in handy.
Remember to take your social media connections offline and set up face-to-face meetings. You may not close the deal that day, but you just might get them to sign on the dotted line in the not-too-distant future.