I came across this great post the other day on LinkedIn titled "How to Sell Anything Using Social Media." Since I use Social Media on a daily basis, I was intrigued right away and curious to see what the author had to say about offering services online through social outlets.
First of all, I am NOT a salesperson. My role using Social Media for IMS is to market the company, create relationships, engage followers, and educate others on marketing (for attorneys and business owners alike). Now, if those efforts end up resulting in a new client coming on board - great! But I'm definitely not a social fisherman trying to reel in the next prospect with a "buy now!" post. Social Media 101 is very clear - don't be pushy or "salesy".
That being said, as I was reading the aforementioned article I noticed that the main points closely align with the goals we set for our IMS marketing, Social Media, and relationship building. Ok, so maybe I'm not a salesman -- but I agree with these basic rules and would like to share with you below:
- Build relationships first: The article points out the use of Twitter and LinkedIn to build connections first and get to know them online. This is great advice, and the same applies to building relationships in person. How much easier is it for you to receive referrals when you have established a connection with a financial advisor? And for your Facebook page and other social accounts, doesn't it feel good to send and receive those "friend requests" to establish some healthy exposure? Whether you speak to someone in person or online, you need to make the effort to get to know them before jumping right to what services your law firm can offer.
- Listen carefully: Keep your ears open to what your clients need, and your eyes open to what they are saying online. Even if it has nothing to do with your practice, just the fact that you are engaging or commenting helps nurture those relationships. And when they do have questions about estate planning or elder law, you are going to be a great resource for them to turn to!
- Uncover problems and needs: This piggybacks off of "listening." If you are more aware of what is being said in the industry or written online, you'll start to realize how you can help your contacts and social followers ...thus leading to a possible new client. Note - you will need to have a social presence to do this! Which means you have to keep up with your Social Media efforts just as much as your local networking efforts.
- Help people solve those problems: When you keep the task of helping in the forefront of your communication, the pressure of selling practically goes away. If the goal is to help someone, they can sense that right away and are more comfortable communicating with you about their problems and needs.
- Ask for the sale: Ok, so this really is Selling 101. Just ask! It's great to begin the process with relationship building, listening and problem solving ...but when it comes down to it, you should ask the prospective client for their business. Maybe it's not something you do on Social Media necessarily, but once you get an in-person meeting or a phone call scheduled you have already established that you can help them with their estate planning and would love to do so.
Didn't realize you were a salesman either, did you? Ok, maybe we should change that term to "problem solver" ... either way, these basic principles can help your law firm when the idea of selling gets in the way of the goal of helping.
Resource: Dave Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Local (via LinkedIn, May 30, 2013) - "How to Sell Anything Using Social Media"