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Online customers are not always transparent, but a seasoned salesperson knows what to look for when interacting with customers face to face, or even over the phone. It could be subtle body movements, changes in the tone of voice, or even little signs of hesitation.
However, it is online buying signals that can be more difficult to pinpoint, making them easier to miss. The fact is, 93% of sales executives have not received any formal training on social selling, yet 90% of top performers include social media in their sales strategies, according to Everyone Social.
So how can your sales team learn the new skills that will help them recognize online buying signals? Here are some tips to help bring your sales team into the digital age.
Common Questions Signify Interest
If someone asks a question, it is probably because they have seen something that piqued their interest somewhere on your site or in your social posts. Common questions that indicate interest include:
- Product Specifics: When someone inquires about a specific model, feature, colour, or service, they are indicating they have something specific in mind. This means they are taking things one step further in their research and interest in your business.
- Warranty Information: This type of question can have a number of purposes. First, they want to establish you are trustworthy, and second, they are coming closer to becoming a buyer.
- Delivery Date: This is one of the clearest signs someone is ready to commit. Whether it is the delivery date, how soon something can go into production for their order, or how soon you can start their service, they are demonstrating an eagerness to get the ball rolling. The logical answer is a question: When do you need it?
- Contract Details: Questions related to standard contracts or terms and conditions are another sign a customer is on the last legs of their customer journey. If they have very specific questions to see if changes can be made to suit their own needs, all the better (as long as you can accommodate those needs).
- Pricing: This is another end of the funnel discussion that is not often brought up unless they are ready to commit. Mode of payment also falls into this category of questions.
- Company Details: No one will waste time asking questions about your company if they are not interested in what you are selling.
- Asking for More: If someone has made initial inquiries and follows up to get more details, or clarify certain aspects of their original questions, this is a good sign. They want to make sure they understand everything before they commit.
Mild Interest = Non-committal
Most people are polite when dealing with salespeople. They will offer mild, non-committal utterances of interest to avoid conflict or commitment. It’s important to note that with these non-committal types of comments, you have to avoid trying to make an assumption they are ready to buy. This can be a major mistake as it can turn people off from doing business with you in the future when they are ready to buy.
You want to correspond your reactions to meet the stage of their buying journey. Some common examples of non-committal comments include:
- Sounds good.
- I guess that could be useful.
- Is that feature used a lot?
- Yes, I’ve heard that.
- I need approval from my boss.
- Send me more materials, and I will take a look.
These comments are ambiguous, keeping you at arm’s length, so they don’t leave an opening for you to get them to commit. Your best bet is to back up a bit and try to build on anything positive they might have said.
Longing and Desire
People who need a problem fixed will often use expressions of desire when they sense something will ease their pain. Your goal is to solve pain points for customers. When they indicate that your product or service might be able to do just that, it provides an opening to motivate them to the next step on their buying journey. Listen for comments such as:
- This would really help on our such and such initiatives
- It sounds like that would make doing x more efficiently
- I would never have to do x again
- So, and so would love this
- I have always wanted something to help me do X
- My friend works at so and so and has been using something like this for a while and loves it
These comments relate to the specific challenges that they face and how what you’re selling can help. Furthering how you can help will bring them to the conclusion they should buy.
Tracking Social Buying Signals
Buying signals on social can feel a little like you are creeping on someone. However, by tracking buying signals from prospects you have already had interaction with, you might spot some signs the potential for buying is rising, or a change has been made that allows you to strike again. Here are some things to look for in social feeds:
- Questions and comments about business problems – How can you solve it?
- Expansion/new locations – What do you have in this new area, or how can you make anything about the expansion easier?
- Questions about similar products to yours – Provide quick answers to point out why your offering is better than any other products mentioned.
- Engagement with a competitor – This is a sign they are on the hunt again, so you need to get to them to remind them why you are better.
- An announcement of new senior management hires – This info provides an opportunity to reconnect with prospects that had used budget challenges as a reason for not closing
It is very important to remain friendly in all comments and replies you might make. Nothing is worse than trying to make the competition look bad, as it always backfires. Instead remain chatty, friendly and informative.
Other Social Opportunities
There are other ways you can gain ideas for leads online including:
- Find new leads from people commenting on an old prospect’s social posts
- Opportunities to reply to comments that can boost your products and services, such as, “Actually, we offer a product that does that,” and then explain a bit about it.
- Read industry blogs and online magazines and look for opportunities to leave comments about your products and how they can assist in some way based on the article content
It is important to understand how using LinkedIn for opportunities can help you in your efforts. According to LinkedIn, 90% of top sales professionals use social selling tools, and 62% agree these tools help nurture stronger authentic relationships. CSO found that 68.9% of sales professionals are using social for lead development.
Customize any messages you send when reaching out for connections so that they feel special. Comment on something about their profile, something they posted or their title, so they know you have taken the time to learn more about them. You will also find more about their pain points if they are particularly chatty on their social page.
Your Own Social Power
These approaches using social depend on following others. However, you can also use your own LinkedIn profile to encourage others to follow you. LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than any other social channel, so learning to leverage your company page or sales teams’ profiles is a must. Here are some tips to build your presence:
- Create relevant content: People won’t be interested in what you have to say if it is not relevant to their needs and their industry. Share quality information, like quality content from others and post quality information of value.
- Track your progress: Watch for likes, comments and the posts that get the most views. This will provide you fodder for what you are doing right (and wrong).
- Use CTAs: Never forget to use CTAs for appropriate posts to encourage people to reach out to you. Don’t overdo it, as people value content, not sales pushes.
- Provide value: As above, offer them free valuable information they can use before you try to sell something. This will establish trust and build stronger more viable relationships.
- Ask for endorsements: Professional endorsements for your sales team work wonders to build trust.
- Follow up: Have a follow-up process to bring people further along on their journey. Many salespeople do not realize that 80% of sales are made after the fifth contact, often as far along as the twelfth.
- Build buyer personas: Find out more about people reaching out to you to help you build buyer personas. This will allow you to learn more about your audience so you can customize info to suit their needs. You’ll be one step closer to sealing the deal.
One Step from a Sale
Always have ears perked for those highly desirable closing opportunities. The next step is just one step from a sale. Be prepared with a quick and logical process when you hear those golden words, “What happens next?” You also want to have a plan in place should they request you present to other members of their team. Be ready with a calendar so you can book something upon request.
Many salespeople walk a fine line when it comes to recognizing the difference between a polite continuation and actual opportunities for advancement. Buying signals and sales leads online are often acquired on social channels, making the digital savvy salesperson a valuable player in today’s tech-heavy world.