Selling has seen some drastic changes over the past several years. If in the past, B2B sales reps relied heavily on their phones and emails to reach out to prospective customers, today’s digital media has opened up a new avenue for this exact purpose. Though relatively new, social selling strategies are being adopted by more and more sales professionals around the world.
Not to be confused with a social media or content marketing strategy, social selling is about cultivating new relationships and driving revenue, rather than building professional brand awareness. It’s performed by your sales team, and it works by leveraging social platforms to engage with potential customers by sharing valuable and relevant content with them.
Within the B2B sales funnel, social media marketing is located at the top, broadening the company’s reach. Social selling, on the other hand, helps convert new leads, moving them down the sales funnel. B2B sales reps who are able to add social selling to their repertoire will greatly increase their chances of engaging with high-quality prospects and target audiences, giving them that desired edge over their competition.
Social selling is about nurturing leads. So, instead of just cold-calling or sending out emails, salespeople can also connect with their potential prospects via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and potentially other relevant platforms, sharing various types of content that’s useful to them. Another way of putting it is to say that social selling uses social media as an additional sales touchpoint across the buyer journey.
With the basic explanations out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can get started with social selling.
In a digital environment that’s beginning to be dominated by artificial intelligence and machine learning, it’s quite tempting to use automated communication tools for customer engagement. But, while chatbots are great for digital marketing and customer service, they can backfire if used for social selling. Click To Tweet The whole point behind this selling technique is to build trust and rapport with potential customers. Using robots, however, will never achieve that. You do it by making yourself as human and approachable as possible.
Aside from engaging with leads, you will also need to optimize your social media profiles to maximize your impact. You will need to look at this process from your existing customers’ perspective and craft your profiles in a way that will depict someone who is credible, professional, and able to provide valuable and relevant insights.
Another crucial aspect of social selling is knowing when to approach a lead or join a conversation. Social listening tools, such as Hootsuite, Mention, or Buffer, among others, will allow you to monitor what people are saying about your industry, business, product, or competition. By keeping an eye out for pain points or recommendation requests, you can jump into the discussion and offer a solution to the problem.
But before you do, it’s recommended that you also check their follower and following lists for possible mutual connections. It never hurts to get an introduction before initiating the first contact. Also, make sure to customize your message by using the information available on their professional social media profiles. Start the conversation by talking about a shared interest or a particularly interesting piece of content they have shared.
Providing Valuable Insight
Simply showing up at the right time won’t be enough for a successful social selling interaction. When you’re engaging with prospects and customers over social media, it’s important that you don’t come off as too sales-pitchy. Your main goal will be to present yourself as a thought leader and expert in your field by contributing valuable and relevant information.
You can do this by sharing your own content or relevant blog posts found elsewhere on the internet. Whatever the case, don’t forget to add a short comment on your take or recommendation on how that information can be applied. It is okay to talk about your product in passing, but don’t turn it into a presentation.
Building Lasting Relationships
Since social selling is all about building and maintaining relationships with customers and potential prospects, you will need to stay in contact with your social contacts over time. This means that you should always pay attention to the content they’re posting and react to their online activities. This way, you’re letting them know you’ve read and appreciated what they had to say.
Likewise, if your contacts get promoted or change companies, send them a quick note of congratulations. Also, if you notice people asking for advice, provide them with a meaningful answer. This doesn’t have to directly promote your product. Keep your attention on helping your contacts in order to establish yourself as the go-to person in your industry. If you manage this, you will be the most likely candidate they turn to when they are ready to make a purchasing decision.
Getting Started With Social Selling on Social Media
While the abovementioned best practices can be considered the pillars of social selling, below, we’ll be taking a look at how to get started on each social media platform: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn – Being the most professional of all social channels, social selling on LinkedIn should be top of mind. Start by optimizing your LinkedIn profile. Then, use it to build your credibility and extend your network by asking for recommendations and endorsements from connections with whom you already have a good relationship. If you join LinkedIn Groups that are industry-relevant, you will also be able to start networking with prospects, customers, and peers. Another useful social networking and social selling tool is LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
- Twitter – Twitter is excellent for social listening and for creating Twitter Lists, which allow you to monitor content from specific groups. These lists are useful for keeping close tabs on existing customers by listening to their pain points. You can also look out for potential prospects and opportunities to like or comment on their Tweets. Just don’t overdo it. You can create private prospects and competitor lists to keep an eye on their activities. Twitter Chats can also be part of your social sales strategy, as they can allow you to establish yourself as an industry expert. You can either join an existing industry-relevant chat or create your own.
- Facebook – Being the most personal of the three social platforms, using a Facebook Business Page is the safest way to tackle social selling on Facebook. By providing valuable content and thoughtful comments, your outreach will likely grow organically over time. The key to Facebook social selling is to respond to your followers’ posts. You can also ask questions to spark conversations where you can interact directly with potential customers.
Every B2B sales team out there should consider social networking with the purpose of social selling. If you want to learn more about social selling best practices, subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest delivered to your inbox.