Market expert Mark Amtower offers tips on how to use social selling techniques and how they pay off during the annual frenzy that comes at the end of the fiscal year.
Every year we face the same phenomena, especially in the age of the perpetual continuing resolution: “the year-end spend frenzy.” According to Deltek, the fiscal fourth quarter represents at least 30 percent to 35 percent of an agency’s total spend, with September often approaching 20 percent of the total spend. September spending is twice that of the next largest month.
End of the fiscal year spending is real and it is big.
However if you are not prepared in advance, you are not likely to be in a position to cash in. Staying in front of the customer to understand their needs and priorities is a year-round process, not a quarterly dash to the finish. The buyer needs to know who you are, where you fit, and which contracts they can use to access you.
The closer it gets to the end of the fiscal year, the harder it becomes to get face time with buyers and influencers. Contracting and procurement officers will be inundated with emails, phone calls and meeting requests. Don’t expect to hear back.
Enter social selling.
Social selling is the process of interacting with current customers and prospects through social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. It involves sharing pertinent content, posting and answering questions, and generally staying on the radar of those you know as well as those you want to know.
Social selling starts, as all social networking does, with a solid, informative profile, somewhere you can be readily vetted. After that the outreach should be consistent and offer valuable information. Social selling is almost a misnomer in that it is an influencing process, not actively selling.
The best single venue for social selling remains LinkedIn. With over 1.6 million Feds representing every federal department and agency, there is no shortage of prospects. If you’ve been on LinkedIn for a while, you should have some penetration into your current federal accounts.
The end of the fiscal year is not a time for prospecting; it is a time to be in front of those who already know you or your company. If you are not on the radar of a buyer, you can start going after them Oct. 1 and save your energy in the fourth quarter for places where you are known.
Then begin (or hopefully continue) the social selling process. Start with the obvious: “like,” retweet, share and comment. If a prospect posts or comments on something, “like” it and if you have something to say, comment on it. If possible, Tweet or retweet it. Find as many ways as possible to share it with others.
You need to start posting as well, preferably in the groups where your prospects reside. Find articles and blogs that are germane to the group, especially those that are germane to the prospect, and post it in the group discussion area. Post questions that can start discussions. Post links to your company white papers. Posting links to articles in each of your groups at least twice weekly is a great way to raise your visibility. You can post with or without commenting on it yourself, but if there is something that really sticks out, bring it to the attention of those reading the post by commenting.
You can Tweet the same articles, and post them on Facebook and Google+.
Your own LinkedIn profile needs to reflect your area of expertise. There has to be some substance when people look to know more about who is sharing these posts.
Social selling is not designed to replace traditional sales methods, but to enhance your ability to build and maintain relationships. In each of my books I have made it abundantly clear that relationships are key to everything you do. Sharing great information is a significant way to build and maintain relationships. When you add value, people are more likely to remember who you are.
At the end of fiscal year, social selling can help maximize the impact of the other actions you have taken throughout the year.
This is excerpted from Mark Amtower’s next book, Government Marketing Best Practices 2020, will be out in September 2016. Look for Mark on LinkedIn.
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