What is Social Selling?
Social selling is the art of using social media to find, connect with, understand, and nurture sales prospects. It’s the modern way to develop meaningful relationships with potential customers so you’re the first person or brand a prospect thinks of when they’re ready to buy. – Hootsuite
Think of social selling as the modern-day equivalent to cold calling, except slightly more passive and much more targeted. In the digital age, we have the ability to filter through individuals and corporations to pinpoint specific groups that either are, or have the potential to be, a qualified prospect.
Buyers already leverage the digital world to acquire knowledge and content to ensure they are making informed and smart purchase decisions. Social selling is about meeting these buyers along that journey through chosen social channels to ensure your product is, at the very least, a consideration in their final decision.
Now, it is important to remember that social selling is a tool. It is not a magic wand! And it should represent only one part of your overall sales strategy. Once you begin to incorporate social selling into your daily routines, it will become a habitual activity you never knew you could live without!
70% of customers want problems solved, not to be sold to – DemandGen 2014 Buyer Behavior Survey
Social selling is not about winning a sale tomorrow. Not everybody you are connecting with through your networks is going to be ready to buy. It is about fostering new connections so that when the consumer is making a decision, your company and its services are front of mind.
Where Do I Start?
Starting is always the toughest part, however, it doesn’t have to be. Social selling can be undertaken on any social media platform. The most relevant for you will depend on your business and industry that you operate in. In the B2B world, we recommend using LinkedIn as it is the most recognised professional networking channel in the world. Learn more about LinkedIn marketing here.
50 percent of B2B buyers use LinkedIn as a source for making purchase decisions – LinkedIn Sales Solutions.
As such, it is easier to find and connect with people from particular industries or companies on Linked In and you can use it to clearly define your target audiences and begin your social selling journey.
The following is a step by step approach to social selling:
- Build and optimise your social page. Ask your clients or previous colleagues to write endorsements, ensure your value proposition is clear, your job description is concise, and your profile picture is up-to-date. Learn more about optimising your Linkedin page here.
- Identify your audience and begin to connect with them. Utilise advanced search parameters to connect with new people, industry leaders, and companies you want to work with. Learn more about connecting with your target audience here.
- Join LinkedIn groups and pay attention to the content that members are engaging with. This will give you an understanding of what is relevant to your audience, and what you could be posting on your channel. You can also start to connect with group members to build your network.
- Start posting and sharing relevant, interesting and engaging content. Experts say you should be posting every day. If this is too much for you to take on immediately, perhaps start with 3-4 times a week and build up to it. Utilise tagging and hashtags to build engagement and boost exposure and leverage some of the industry leaders’ content and share them on your channels. This utilises insight-based selling to attract new leads. Remember, it is more important to post relevant content less often than to inundate your network with meaningless and unrelated material – quality over quantity.
65% of buyers agree that a vendor’s content has significant impact on buying decision and 72% use social media to research before making a purchase – LinkedIn Sales Solutions.
- Don’t forget about your brand. While your page is about you, you are leveraging the platform to sell. Ensure you keep your company brand at the forefront.
- Send private messages to new connections and begin to ‘softly’ educate them on how you could potentially assist them in the future.
- Remember that this is a long-game strategy. Do not go in with the intention to close a sale by COB.
- Identify qualified leads and aim to take some of those conversations off LinkedIn by getting their email address or mobile number. You can then start to build up a database within your CRM and send them relevant communications moving forward.
- Use your Social Selling Index (SSI) score as a starting point to highlight what parameters you can improve on. The SSI should not be your guiding light, just a tool to consider when you are entering this new space. Do not get caught up on getting the highest score. Learn more about this here.
Why Social Selling Should Be a Part of Your B2B Strategy?
It costs 75% less to generate leads via social media than any other channel – Linkedin Sales Solutions
Leveraging social media through social selling is free and effective. While it only represents one part of an overarching sales strategy, it is a quick and easy way to connect with potential prospects. Further, you are building your brand and your company’s brand by establishing yourself as an expert in your field through content-based marketing. It’s a win-win.
92% of B2B buyers are willing to engage with a sales professional who is a known industry thought leader, a reputation you can establish by consistently posting thoughtful, relevant content on social media – Hootsuite
There is also the opportunity to leverage referral-based selling through social selling. A common example of this sales strategy is responding to job change updates on LinkedIn within your network, particularly to those who you have worked with previously. This is your chance to reach out to those individuals, say congratulations on the new role and to reach out to you if they need anything. This is a highly effective way to work with new clients through previous clients.
Lastly, it is a quick and easy addition to your daily routine. Spend 20 minutes a day building your network, sharing and posting valuable content and reaching out to people, and reap the benefits in the future.
Alright, Wrap it Up.
Ultimately social selling, through whichever digital channel is most relevant to your business, is about building and maintaining meaningful relationships with potential customers. It is a B2B marketing strategy that is easy to incorporate into your day. The crux is ensuring that when the customer is ready to buy, they think of you and your business.
Things to remember/key points:
- Think long term – do not come on too strong. Remember that people do not want to be sold to.
- Use your SSI at the beginning of your social selling journey to highlight areas you could make improvements. Do not rely upon these parameters to inform the success of your endeavours.
- Strive to (eventually) obtain email addresses and/or phone numbers so you can start to build your database.
- Remember, quality over quantity. That goes for new connections and posting.
Finally, happy social selling!
For more information on this article or other social media marketing tactics, don’t hesitate to get in touch with The Lead Agency.