Are you neglecting an essential step in the sales process?

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Social media has become a vital tool to engaging customers early and often. Here’s how to get in the game.

If you work in sales, you know that closing just one deal can require a lot of “leg work.” Making a sale typically includes activities like meetings, phone calls and many follow-ups. The sales process can be long and tedious; however, it doesn’t have to be.

As technology continues to play an increasingly integral role in our everyday lives and in how we communicate, it also changes the way sales are made. Over the last decade, the sales process has significantly evolved. Strategies like content marketing, email marketing and most recently, social media, now play an essential role in the sales process.

Not Just For the Grandkids

As the number of millennials in the work force continues to rise, times are certainly changing. It’s time to either adapt or get left behind. However, it’s important to note that social media is not just for the younger generations. According to Statista, the number of social media users worldwide has nearly tripled over the last decade, growing from 0.97 billion in 2010 to 2.62 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach 3.02 billion by 2021.

If you’re selling in North America, take note. The continent ranks first among regions where social media is highly popular, with a social media penetration rate of 66 percent. In 2016, more than 81 percent of Americans had a social media profile.

It’s All About Relationships

Forbes staff writer Jacquelyn Smith writes that “an integral part of the sales process is getting to know your prospects and establishing relationships—and it turns out that social media can help you accomplish this quickly and easily.” Not only can you connect with prospects and generate new leads, but you’re able to better research and learn more about existing clients to help you build deeper relationships. Communicating with clients, prospects and journalists has never been easier or faster than it is with social media.

Social media platforms are not just a way to connect with your target audience, but also to share meaningful, relevant content with them and, in turn, help position your business as a thought leader in your industry. In fact, social media allows you to do this so quickly and easily that not taking advantage of it would be like ignoring the proverbial low-hanging fruit. For example, simply sharing an article on a recent issue or trend, along with your own commentary or “take” on the issue, shows your followers that you have expert insight and can serve as a go-to source for industry knowledge.

Similarly, using relevant hashtags can increase your post’s visibility and expand your reach much further than your email list would. Joining online communities and contributing to forums are other great examples of how to share your expertise with your target audience.

Take the Plunge

When it comes to the energy and utility industries, some marketers may be reluctant to utilize social media as a sales tool, as it is not traditionally used. Social media could be viewed as an “unknown territory” that you’d rather steer clear of than attempt to learn about and implement in your business. What these industries may not know is that social media is more than just a trend or phase. It’s here to stay and is only growing. While some may assume social media is only used for promoting products, it allows for so much more. Now, more than ever, social media is necessary to include in your sales process if you want to reach your target audience, demonstrate thought leadership, keep in touch with clients and media, and most importantly, make sales.

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