To learn about why you need to rethink the sales process in this social age, I interview Tom Martin for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.
The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.
It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.
The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).
In this episode, I interview Tom Martin, author of The Invisible Sale: How to Build a Digitally Powered Marketing and Sales System to Better Prospect, Qualify and Close Leads. His agency is Converse Digital.
Tom shares the concept of painless prospecting and propinquity.
You’ll learn how to succeed in the changing social media sales landscape, and how your business can embrace these new strategies.
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Tom believes it’s more about how buyers buy than the way businesses sell. With the Internet, people can hide behind the anonymity of Google search.
You can do all your pre-purchase research without having to talk to a salesperson. You only have to talk to a person once you’ve made a short list of companies you are interested in and want to close the deal.
Today’s buyer prefers this process, as it’s easier and more efficient. With this in mind, companies have to adjust.
In the early days, the power was with the salesperson, but with the knowledge available online today, the power is in the hands of the consumer.
Tom says as a business, you have to stop thinking about how you sell because you don’t really sell anymore. Instead you help buyers make a buying decision. When they make their decision, hopefully it will be in your favor. Although it won’t always be the case.
You’ll discover how your system needs to be set up properly and the approach you need to consider.
If you have a really good product or service, more often than not, you will win the conversion. Most people are turned off by people selling to them. The best way is to show them that you’re willing to help and that you always have their best interests at heart.
Listen to the show to find out more about how the approach to sales has changed.
An example of a business that has embraced new ways to sell
Tom talks about a camera store called Adorama based in New York that he used as a case study in his book, The Invisible Sale. Adorama only has one store, but does business in all 50 US states and 5 countries.
Adorama has two sides to their business, B2C and B2B. Regardless of which side you look at, they approach it the same way. Their philosophy is to sell by sharing original educational content.
Even though it’s a photography store, they sell more than just cameras. They’ve built a Learning Center that includes Adorama TV, which is one of their huge content pieces. The Learning Center is a treasure trove of educational content.
Although their approach is to educate, when you watch one of their videos, you’ll notice easy-to-follow links to products below the video. You’ll find out how they used YouTube to allow people to reach that product.
In 2010, they saw a general growth curve, mainly due to the educational content they provide.
The moral of the lesson is that if you can make your buyer smarter and better because they are doing business with you, then Tom believes you will succeed in selling more to that buyer.
Listen to the show to hear why Tom relates it to fly-fishing and how it’s the same with modern content marketing.
What is a social agent and why is it important?
Tom describes a social agent as someone who doesn’t necessarily buy from you, but recommends you to a friend or colleague who might buy from you. A lot of the time, social agents can be your most valuable customers that you never do business with. They’re the best customers you’ll have.
You need to draw in your social agents through educational pieces. A relationship is formed with your brand or company when they see value in what you are doing.
You’ll learn how Tom became a huge social agent for Adorama.
Listen to the show to find out the importance of empowering everyone to be a social agent for your company.
In The Invisible Sale, you reveal a process that helps people sell without cold-calling and advertising. Can you explain the process?
Tom calls the process “painless prospecting.” The concept is a spin on inbound marketing. The core difference is that most content and inbound strategies leverage search and keyword optimization.
As more and more businesses discover and deploy keyword optimization and SEO strategies, Tom believes that only so many will win the battle. It’s going to get more competitive and much more difficult.
Whereas painless prospecting is built on the concept of propinquity.
Propinquity is a scientific theory that powers the formation of relationships. It says that if you bump into someone a lot, the higher the likelihood of you touching them more often, reading their content or meeting them in person, the more likely you are to like that person, providing you like them each time you meet.
Tom’s painless prospecting philosophy is that you don’t walk away from SEO, but do get off your own blog. You need to think and care more about putting great content on other people’s blogs. Tom advises you to treat every blog as your own. When you put content in these places, they are called Propinquity Points.
You’ll learn how to develop a strategy for this to make sure you stay top of mind.
Tom shares a quick overview of where you can find places to provide content, but there is a whole chapter (Building a Painless Prospecting Platform) in his book where the process is laid out.
If you pay attention to your industry or your prospects’ industry, you can usually sit down and list all the places that your prospective customers congregate online and offline. You’ll learn where these places might be. If you know your industry well enough, you will already know of 7-10 places without thinking. This is your first list.
Once you find these points, you can create more opportunities for people to stumble across you and your brand. It’s a great way to get a good positive impression.
When you get off your own blog, your buyer doesn’t have to be in active research mode to stumble upon you. They might then click through to your blog and possibly sign up to read it. You’ll learn what can happen if you only stay on your own blog.
You’ll discover why you do your best content work when you write for someone else.
Tom advises you to write 4 or 5 posts for other blogs, staged over a 2-week period and keep an eye on your Google Analytics to see what happens. You’ll notice that you drive more traffic back to your site.
The more you write for these larger audiences, the bigger your chance of people coming over to your site to check out your content. For every 100 people who read your content somewhere else, around 5% will convert to signups. This is how to build propinquity at a blog base.
Tom is convinced that the way to win today is to get out there and treat yourself like a media empire.
Listen to the show to learn about the invisible component in Tom’s book title.
What marketers should avoid when using content to try to get a sale
Tom says there are two things marketers should avoid. Most people produce content at the wrong level. It’s normally the same single unit of content across their blog and podcast. So most feel that one blog post a week is enough without writing for others.
First you have to think about content creation as an ecosystem. You should never create one piece of content once. You should look for ways to repurpose it or even rechannel it.
You’ll learn about the ways you can turn one piece of content into more content.
Secondly, Tom states that there is a belief, especially among inbounders, that every piece of content needs to have a call to action. Although research proves calls to action get more conversions, Tom doesn’t really believe it. He feels there is still value in pure education.
You need to go out and educate your buyer. Don’t ask or expect anything in return. Tom states that most buyers know how to buy; you shouldn’t need to rely on a call to action for them to have enough confidence to contact you.
Listen to the show to find out why your content should always be of value.
This Week’s Social Media Question
Debra Keirce, a professional artist, asks, “As an artist, sometimes it will take years between contacting potential collectors and receiving a commission or a purchase. Are there specific social media tools that can be used to help develop, encourage and maintain these long-term relationships, so that the leads don’t go cold and people will recommend you to their friends, when at times they are not necessarily looking to buy themselves?”
This is a great question on how to keep top of mind with prospects who aren’t ready to buy.
The first thing I would recommend is to make sure you listen to this particular podcast for some great ideas. Here are a few examples of what you could do with your business.
- Create time-lapse videos that showcase your processes
- Create educational pieces
- Become the conduit to prospects
When you put yourself in the position of the resource person rather than the salesperson, every time you communicate with prospects, it’s a way to stay top of mind. If, and when, they are ready to buy, they are more likely to come back to you or pass your details on to another prospect. You need to have regular touch points.
You’ll hear an example of what I received from people in the voice talent industry when I was a prospect and how my realtor markets his business using social media.
I hope you find this helpful.
Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.
Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how this works for you.
Other Show Mentions
Social Media Success Summit 2013
Social Media Success Summit 2013 is a special online conference designed to help you master social media marketing (brought to you by Social Media Examiner).
Forty-five of the world’s leading social media pros will show you how. Instructors include Jay Baer (author, Youtility), Chri
We have finalized our brand panels and here are a few killer ones.
- Instagram panel with Sony and E! Online
- Online video panel with Discovery Communications and Salesforce
- Pinterest marketing with Whole Foods and Target
- Twitter marketing with GE and American Express
- Facebook marketing with Walmart and NASA
We’ve got some incredible brands that will share what they do with social media. This is just a sample. There is an enormous amount of how-to content.
It’s an online conference, which means you don’t need to travel anywhere. It’s spread over an entire month and it’s live. If you want to learn more about it, be sure to check it out.
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What do you think? What are your thoughts on selling with social media? Please leave your comments below.