Saturday, May 25, 2024

Are you a Digital Selling Master or Apprentice? II

Part II: It’s about more than just wine

Readers who enjoy wine might appreciate this anecdote.

Like most wine drinkers, I am quite particular about my grape varieties and sweetness levels when deciding which bottle to buy. I am (like your own customers) also one to thoroughly research any product before purchasing.

Recently, I was perusing the Facebook comment section of a post by a popular company that specifically sells only very dry wines (my personal preference). I had taken a look at their website, and while I was interested in trying some of their wines, I was disappointed to learn that their products are only available through a six-bottle monthly subscription of $159. In the post’s comment section, I requested that they consider selling their wines a la carte for the pickiest of customers (me), and for those who might not need a full six-bottle subscription every month. 

Not an hour after making this comment, I received a private message on Facebook Messenger. Michelle, the woman who contacted me, had seen my comment on the wine company’s Facebook post. Incidentally, Michelle owns a competing (smaller) wine company that also offers my beloved bone-dry wines. She wanted to let me know that her company not only has similar products to her competitor, but they also sell their wines a-la-carte! Michelle even took the time to suggest a few varieties that she thought I might enjoy, and provided information about the wine’s sugar content. 

Needless to say, I visited Michelle’s website and ordered a few bottles of delicious wine to enjoy this winter. 

Michelle’s message was instrumental in my decision of what wines to purchase, and (more importantly) from where. While the larger wine company eventually responded to my comment (very corporately), Michelle gave me something that the larger company did not: a personalized answer to my exact request. Her message put a name, face, and personality to her brand that doesn’t often come through with large corporations, who tend to use highly constrained language and boilerplate responses, even in private messages.

What was most interesting to me, though, was how she came to message me in the first place. Be honest: how many minutes do you spend in a week scoping out your competitor’s posts? Well, this might be your sign to start doing so. There’s no harm in sneaking around a little to see what leads are saying about your competitor’s products or services- in fact, feedback aimed at companies similar to your own can teach you how to create an equally (or even more) successful strategy. Michelle’s private message to me wasn’t sketchy nor sales-pitchy; it was genuine and tailored to my situation. It was smart. She won my customer loyalty away from a huge competitor. 

Why can’t you do that, too? 

Admittedly, Michelle’s success in winning me as a customer required a little extra time and effort on her part. While many PartnerOn users manage to increase brand awareness and score new leads just from consistently posting content, others are looking to up the ante. The second (very important) ingredient to success is engagement, or building a trusting relationship between you and your leads. 

I’m assuming that you read Part I and have a solid foundation of digital selling (if you haven’t yet, go read it!). If so, congratulations to all of you newly-minted Digital Selling Apprentices!

I hope that in the past couple of weeks, you’ve taken some time to post consistently to social media and that you’ve started to generate some expectation from your followers. I want to see you level up today with these tips to becoming a Digital Selling Master. 

How to become a Digital Selling Master

Continue everything you’ve been doing as an Apprentice, plus make sure that you pay close attention to these steps: 

  • Go where your target audience goes
  • Be the real deal 
  • Build the relationship

Go where your target audience goes

You might already have mapped out your ideal lead and their customer journey when you started your business or the last time you tweaked your marketing strategy. If you haven’t done that, now is as good a time as any! 

In the world of digital selling, as in real estate, location is extremely important. Are your target leads using LinkedIn to connect with others and find opportunities? Have they all but abandoned Facebook? Make sure that you understand who your audience is and how they research and gather information in order to make a decision. There are endless websites and books all about market research and personas. Knowing more about these topics (and putting tried-and-true strategies into practice) will amplify your selling game. 

If you’re at a loss, take a leaf out of Michelle’s book by simply scoping out the competition. Who is your biggest competitor in your geographic area and in your target verticals? Where are they posting? How are they engaging with their own audience and responding to inquiries?

Be the real deal

You know by now that millennials (whether consuming as B2B or B2C) crave authenticity in their business interactions. That means you can’t fake it and still make it with a good chunk of today’s workers. If you’re sliding into your lead’s DMs (as the kids say), you had better have something high-quality to offer them – drop the sales facade. The best strategy is to be personable and on-brand. 

When you do find that opportune moment to privately message an interested lead, be careful about what you write to them. You only get one shot with a private message, and you don’t want to be ignored, rejected, or even blocked! Write a sincere message that addresses your lead’s pain points and that brings them closer to their goals. Here are a few tips for a good opening DM. 

Offer value first

Michelle had the chance to provide something that I was actively looking for: a non-subscription order of very dry wines. She immediately said, “I saw your comment on my competitor’s post, and here is what I have to offer.” She didn’t ask me to order her product, or even for me to visit her website; she first offered me a solution of value without asking me for a thing in return. 

To continue the conversation with your leads, you might recommend a thought leadership piece, share a free version of your ebook, or provide quality deliverables that you received from PartnerOn. 

Keep it short 

Michelle’s message was a paragraph long, and only included enough information to address my pain points. She ended it there, but offered to send me more information if I wanted. Her initial message intrigued me, and my follow-up questions to her about sugar content brought me closer to my goal of ordering wine. 

There was nothing fishy or disingenuous about Michelle’s message, and it wasn’t “sales-y” enough to turn me off. Your messages can just as easily accomplish the same end, as long as you keep them simple, authentic, and purposeful. 

By the way, this was Michelle’s actual first message to me:

“Hi Amber! I saw your comment on (competitor’s page) and wanted to let you know about my wine company! We also sell organic and vegan wines that are dry and free of all preservatives and pesticides. Unlike (competitor), you can buy our wines a la carte without a subscription. I would love to send you more info, if that’s ok?”

Build the relationship

What happens when I run out of wine? 

Although Michelle and I haven’t gotten this far in our business relationship, I wonder what will happen once I’ve received my shipment of wine. Will she reach out again to ask what my favorite variety was, recommending similar selections based on my taste? Will she offer a discount if I remain a loyal customer? Or, will another competitor sweep in with a better offer and steal me from her? 

I’m curious about the actions you take, reader, when a lead becomes a customer. Do you have a follow-up process mapped out, whether that’s a classic phone call or a monthly newsletter to keep customers up-to-date? Do your customers remember you the next time they need to update their equipment, and are they aware that you offer the newest security system that they could really use right now?

Your B2B relationship doesn’t end with the sale. Since most technology gets updated at least every few years, you would be remiss to treat someone as a one-time customer and lose out on the compound revenue that often comes with a loyal business relationship. If you don’t have a follow-up plan, carve out an hour this week to draft a couple of email templates and plan a few calling campaigns to your current customers. You might be surprised at how happy they are to hear from you. 

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