In a previous post I shared with you how sales people can use Social Selling to gain trust from a buyer before any contact is even made, using digital platforms to showcase credibility, knowledge and trustworthiness. Today I want to extend this theme further by looking at how both Social Proof, and a psychological effect known as the Mere-Exposure Effect, can help inform Social Selling behaviours.
The Mere-Exposure Effect, developed most notably by Zajonc, is based on 2 key findings which are relevant to Social Selling:
- The more a person is exposed to someone or something, the more they like
- The more someone likes someone or something, the more likely they are to choose
For sales people, the first of these will not come as a surprise. For years sales people have known that approximately 6 to 8 ‘touches’ are required before a prospect will buy. Traditionally those ‘touches’ would involve, for the most part, outbound calls over a period of time (in many cases, where there was no pre-qualification of need) interspersed with follow-up emails.
Social Selling allows you to establish these ‘touches’ and familiarity in a way that not only demonstrates your knowledge, capability and credibility, but also avoids the unsolicited and unwelcome calls and emails. That’s not to say you’ll never pick up the phone to a prospect when you’re a Social Selling expert, just that when you do, you’ll have a good reason to call and they’ll already know who you are and have a good understanding of your capability.
The second of Zajonc’s findings perhaps seems more obvious and yet I have met many a sales person over the years so distracted by other elements of the sales process (or sometimes their own egos!), that they forget the golden rule – that people ultimately want to buy from people they like.
When we combine the Mere-Exposure effect with what we know about Social Proof, we can begin to really understand the influence that expert Social Sellers are able to have.
Social Proof is essentially the tendency to like something more when other people are doing it (Cialdini, 2007). It is the reason referrals, testimonials and reviews have such a powerful impact on buying decisions. Expert Social Sellers indirectly provoke testimonials just by engaging on social platforms. For example, let’s imagine you have received excellent customer service from a venue you booked for a team meeting, you are unlikely to go out of your way to find their website, look for somewhere to leave a testimonial and then write that testimonial. If, however, you’re on Linkedin and see that same company has shared a post about their meeting facilities, you are far more likely to add a comment onto the post recommending them. (For more on Social Proof and the power of referrals, click here to read my post on the ‘Psychology of Persuasion’.)
Lessons for Social Selling from the Mere-Exposure Effect and Social Proof:
- Get Social.With 75% of B2B buyers using social media to make purchasing decisions, Social Selling is now the best way to get in front of your prospects.
- Make it a habit. Frequency and regularity are critical when it comes to Social Selling. Not every engagement you make will be seen by all of those you want to see it. That means to create the level of exposure required to make someone more inclined to like you and therefore, choose you, you need to be socially engaging on a regular basis. Vary the type and source of content you’re sharing and engaging with. Keep it relevant and interesting to your desired audience and make sure you’re adding something yourself, even if it’s just a comment stating: ‘Great read for those interested in….’. And, always, I repeat always, reply to comments about you, your products/services and company; a ‘thank you’ goes a long way, especially in the world of Social Media!