One of the keys to selling is reaching decision makers when they are most likely to be influenced: Influenced on what is the best solution to their problem – not who is the best supplier.

Solutions are all the different ways of solving the same problem or obtaining the same outcome (think of these as your competition), suppliers are alternate providers who sell the same solution (think of them as competitors).

Using this framework banner ads, Google ad words, and search engine optimization would be considered my competition because they provide alternate solutions that deliver the same outcome – increased sales. Other sales trainers would be considered my competitors because they are alternate providers that deliver the same solution – sales training.

If you want to learn more about the difference between these two, Rene Mouborgne and W. Chan Kim explain the difference in an article, on Blue Ocean Strategy.

Recent research by Don Bulmer and Vanessa DiMauro shows that more and more decision makers are utilizing social media peer groups to form and validate decisions. Social media peer groups are those you would find on social media sites like LinkedIn, eCademy, Facebook, or Ning.

So the #4 Way to sell more by using social media is to create or participate in groups to influence those decision makers who experienced a Trigger Event that put them into the Window of Dissatisfaction BUT have not started the process of searching for alternative solutions yet.

I have a group on Linkedin called SHiFT! that has almost 2,500 members and a Trigger Event Selling Group on Facebook that has 300 members. I started these groups to encourage people, who have similar interests and aspirations, to share ideas, resources, and success stories about using Trigger Events to turn prospects into customers. It turns out that in creating these groups I am influencing decision makers on an alternate solution to increase sales.

To extend my reach I now participate in other groups related to sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, and innovation, that my target market (CEOs and VPs of sales of small and mid-sized organizations) joins on LinkedIn, eCademy, Facebook, and Ning.

Participating in these groups allows me to share my expertise with decision makers and influence their thinking while they are still in the formative stages of making a decision about which solution (sales training, banner ads, Google ad words, search engine optimization) they could use to increase sales.

So this month’s question is

How can you leverage groups on social media sites to sell more

Win $3,000 worth of Trigger Event services by submitting either a great example of, or great idea on, how to use a group on LinkedIn, Facebook, or ANY other business oriented social media group to sell more. To win the $3,000 prize you must get the most votes for your answer. This month there is also a second prize of $1,500 to the person who gets the second most votes for their answer.

Answers are submitted by commenting on this blog post. Answers are voted on by clicking on the button that appears at the end of each answer/comment.

Winners are announced the last Tuesday of the month – December 29th – so voting ends at Midnight (MST) on Monday December 28th.

Answers/comments need to be approved – to avoid spam – which typically takes just a few minutes. Contact me by phone (+1.403.874.2998), Skype (Craig.Elias), or this contact form, if you don’t see your comment approved within a few minutes of posting it.

Use the button below to Tweet , Stumble!, Digg, and email your friends so you get the most votes, because the voting system I use does not allow you to vote for your own answers.

Good luck & have an EVENTFUL week!