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Have you ever experienced a bad cold call?

You know the kind: the guy on the other end of the phone knows nothing about you and is trying to sell you something you don’t need.

If you don’t put up with such outdated behaviour in real life, why put up with it online?

Yet, most sellers are bringing old techniques to online social networks, and getting lukewarm to poor results. Don’t be that person who’s constantly pitching, pushing and marketing online – because it doesn’t work.

Read: How to measure social media ROI

Cold connects are a dying sales strategy

Online social networks are completely changing how people, including advisors, reach clients. This is especially true for high-value products and services.

Increasingly, that’s because buyers are driving the sales process. Buyers are doing their research online, asking their friends and colleagues for their opinions, and contacting salespeople much further into their buying journey than ever before.

Yet, despite access to vast amounts of information online, buyers still need help and guidance. They are looking at what their peers are doing. And they are looking to connect with someone who understands them.

Read: How 3 advisor teams are winning with social

New strategies are needed for the digital age

Here are some practical ways for you to conduct yourself online as a sophisticated social seller:

1. Pay attention to your network. Spend as little as 10-15 minutes per day listening and responding to what your network connections are talking about and sharing. People notice when you are listening and responding to them.

2. Find and share GREAT content. The easiest way you can add value to your network is to find and share content that you know people are interested in. People are busy and if you consistently share good information, you will gain more of their mindshare.

3. Share frequently. In order to be visible, share 3-5 times a day on Twitter, and 1-3 times a day on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. People may not often comment on what you’re sharing, but consistently sharing good content will keep you top of mind within your network.

Read: Create a social media marketing plan

4. Create insight and add value. To avoid bombarding people with more content, try writing a short weekly article pointing readers to the best content you’ve found on a particular topic. People reciprocate when you educate and help them – even if you don’t author the material.

5. Engage when people reach out. When people respond and comment, you need to reply in a timely manner. Be friendly and build rapport, and eventually you can suggest a phone call or in-person meeting. Remember, you’re building relationships, not prospecting, but meeting with clients and influencers can earn you new business and referrals.

6. Be your brand. Ensure your personal online presence uses a professional and consistent headshot everywhere. Don’t replace your smiling face with a logo. People aren’t just buying the products and services you sell – they are buying you!

Jay Palter is a social media strategist and coach with two decades of experience in financial services, software development and marketing.
Originally published on Advisor.ca

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