Every day you hear more on social selling. Questions abound: “Is social selling this?” “Can social selling do that?” I’m constantly amazed how much talk there is about social selling on social media. For many of my midmarket clients, it’s something that they haven’t really thought about.
As an entrepreneur, I have started to explore social selling. It has been very, very good to me. No, seriously, for the midmarket entrepreneur, it can be a game-changer. I’m asked by my larger clients if I think social selling is going to impact their strategic accounts.
Today, I’ll share what I see happening in social selling. Next week, I’ll give you several new tools to include in your strategic account engagement process.
I’m not a social selling expert, but I will share the three things that change how you work with your strategic accounts. For most midmarket businesses, strategic and key accounts have kept the business growing over the past several years.
Social selling offers you an opportunity to monitor your clients more closely. I find that many senior strategic account managers take for granted what they know about their clients. They see them on a regular basis and they talk about everyday things that are impacting their lives. Sometimes, they are being so social they miss the bigger issues going on in their accounts.
Recently, I was told about a major acquisition in strategic accounts for one of my clients. The account leader noticed that his contact seemed more nervous and distracted in their recent meetings. At no time did the discussion move to recent acquisition. I suggested that we do some quick research online and found that there was significant duplication between the organizations. I also found out my client had both companies for clients, but had different pricing for each.
We thought it was critical to implement a strategy that protects their key relationships in both organizations. We implemented a proactive account review process that ensured we kept the business since the combined business could exceed 40% of our business if both met our growth plans for the coming year. Losing this business, could do significant damage to my client’s long term financial fitness. We also began to monitor additional social media platforms to see what might be going on inside the client. Social selling can provide a significant advantage in understanding key relationships within the organization.
Social selling can also provide you significant information about what is going on in your clients’ customers. Today, social selling allows a strategic account manager to monitor the bigger issues impacting your best clients’ businesses. When I work with strategic account teams, I ask them to develop a list of trigger events they could use to reach out to clients when an event occurs. Social selling is as much about relationship building as it about timing. I’ll share more about developing your own trigger list in a future blog. The key idea here is that there are times when timing may be even more important than relationship when it comes to strategic accounts.
Finally, social selling is about creating more interesting conversations with your strategic accounts. Social selling offers a unique opportunity to share information in a non-threatening way. I provide my key clients with information that makes their life easier. I find that having another expert sharing their perspectives on specific business issues provides a great foundation for future conversations with my clients.
I also promote my clients through social channels. By monitoring my client’s promotions and news more closely, I am able to leverage my clients’ success through my own network. In many cases, I develop key relationships within my clients’ industries so I can help them better influence people in their networks. There have been several times where promoting my clients activities have helped them get more interest from traditional media outlets. It’s made them the hero within their own organizations.
As an added bonus, social sharing relevant content increases your own influence in your areas of expertise. I may have been sharing a point in one way with no progress. I share an article or blog from someone else and my phone rings to discuss what the article says. For me, social selling provides a time effective tool for nurturing key ideas in the mind on my clients’ many stakeholders.
Strategic account management is changing. How you respond is going to determine how your business grows and prospers. If you hope to find and maintain your strategic accounts growth, you need to apply more innovative business development strategies.
I’ll share several cost effective tools I’ve used to grow clients key accounts. You can find the article at Can These Tools Start Increasing Your Social Selling Results?