5 Nitty-Gritty Social Trends That Impact Sales

Day in and day out, you put products or services in front of prospects. You may be starting to notice that it’s tougher to close the deals you really want.

Perhaps that’s because you‘re relying on a few tactics that no longer have currency in the digital culture.

When your team reports back that they lost a huge sale to a more “socialized” competitor, it’s a wake-up call.

No matter what kind of enterprise you are in—whether you are running a manufacturing business, a brewery, or an art gallery, an over reliance on a few traditional brand tools—brochures, trade show booths, trinkets—may be holding you back.

You can turn that around. By paying attention to a few social trends, you’ll gain a fresh look into the kind of sales communications that get you closer to your customer.

Here are the five questions to ask right up front.

 1. Interaction Trends: Which networks are prospects actively using? 

Do they engage on Twitter, LinkedIn, or do they blog? Knowing where your prospects are congregating and sharing is the first step to any social selling strategy. Just by checking out their media profiles, you can start following, listening, and connecting.

2. Design Trends: Does your web designer know your sales objectives? 

Seems like a crazy question, I know. But developers have notoriously upheld design aesthetics at the expense of commerce. It’s a false compromise. The very best designers working today build websites that ease the customer journey online, on any device. Make sure your web designer knows your business objectives, as well as your brand preferences, and can translate them into landing pages and offers that invite and delight.

3. Content Trends: What kind of topics do our prospects crave? 

We often find when sitting down with clients they have a wealth of valuable knowledge about their industry. Use it, we tell them. Here’s how: Make a list and cull through your industry insights. Next, try following your top prospects to spot-trending topics. Then create content that ties your expertise to material they value. Push it out through your website as a download to capture leads, and socialize it through networks and across employees. Keep in mind that great content trumps any platform. We’ve seen clients master just a few networks and have great success generating interest with the right messaging.

 4. User Experience Trends: How do people experience us online? 

Your website is the jewel in your crown. Jennifer Polk, research director at Gartner Research and digital expert explains, “A company’s website is still its most valuable digital asset.” Treat your website like an organic asset that benefits from an annual checkup and steady care. Checking monthly traffic reports using Google Analytics or HootSuite will make sure it’s breathing life into your brand. Here’s how: Assign someone on your team, or better yet recruit a trusted third party, to take the customer journey online and note awkward spots, dead links, and mind-numbing use of jargon. Molly Wolfberg at HubSpot offers these handy how-tos for usability testing, http://dev.hubspot.com/blog/how-to-do-usability-testing-at-a-fast-paced-company.

5. Wider World Trends: What aren’t we seeing? 

Look outward. Sheryl Connelly, a futurist at Ford Motor Company, believes that SWOT analysis is a lagging indicator. “When trying to get people within the organization to think about the future, I like to help them see long-term trends that have major implications for our growth.” Focusing on what we know keeps us in a recursive loop of rumination. Fresh insights can break things open. Action ideas: Host a trend slam at the office inviting teams to pitch in trends they’re spotting. Distill the answers. Better yet, organize a trend-spotting forum for influencers, clients, and prospects at your next industry gathering. We’ve witnessed remarkable relationships form when people deep dive together. Oh, and assign someone to listen to unmet needs.

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The future is closer than you think. Consider that Millennial professionals will soon be your buyers. Engaging prospects in the social sphere will help you find, listen to, and relate to your prospects so that you’re not just thinking about the future—you’re creating it.