Whether you are a sales person, an entrepreneur or a professional responsible for generating sales for your company, you likely understand that sales is a numbers game.
It’s likely that part of your day also consists of cold calling.
There is only one problem with this interruptive approach to cold calling prospects. These decision makers have already acquired a bias to not dealing with sales people over the phone and tend to do their own research online to solve a problem without the involvement of an external sales person.
Imagine for a minute, what your life would be like if you came into work each day and were able to engage, nurture and create opportunities to meet your ideal prospects on your social media networks utilizing a social selling mindset.
This way of approaching sales allows for you to become the trusted advisor to your prospects because you are getting involved in the conversation early on when the business is actively looking for a solution online.
Social selling is not about using social to sell; it’s about changing our behavior to understand and work with the modern digital buyer.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is a sales technique that focuses on utilizing social media to find, connect with, nurture and most importantly build meaningful relationships with prospects. You can do this through delivering value-based to your marketplace using social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
The success of this new layer of social selling relies on building up a community and creating trust with your prospective customers around your domain of expertise.
Social selling is not about putting the selling first that is why the word social is in front of it. You do not want to be using traditional sales tactics of soliciting strangers with your sales messages on these social networks. There is a name for it and it’s called spam, and that does not work.
Social selling comes down to providing so much value and insights to your audience that they will just naturally mirror back the behavior and reach out for help when they need it the most.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of what social selling is about, let’s have a look at why being effective with it is so important to sales and your bottom line
Why You Must Embrace Social Selling
Applying a social selling mindset to your current approach of selling requires you to rethink how you approach your sales process moving forward with these techniques.
Here are just a few of the stats you will find online that reinforce why social selling is so critical to your sales success:
- 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media. 1
- Teams sell more with social selling: 64% of sales teams that use social selling hit their quota, compared to 49% that don’t. 2
- A lead developed via social media is 7x more likely to close (IBM).
- Organizations using social selling have seen a 10-20% increase in win rate, 20-30% acceleration in cycle time, and 10-15% increase in revenue (KISSMetrics). 3
Here are three compelling reasons why you should consider embracing social selling.
1. Social selling lets you build authentic relationships
You know by now that cold calling is not working the way it once did. By utilizing social listening, you can find conversations that are highly relevant to your product or service, identify prospective clients and meet them with timely, relevant content.
When your prospect is sharing their pain points and needs on their public profiles and groups, you have a unique opportunity to lead with insightful information that is helpful and far less intrusive. More often than not, this leads to meaningful and engaging conversations with your prospective clients.
When you position yourself as a trusted advisor, prospects will often be willing to introduce you to new opportunities through their connections which immediately enlists confidence and rapport. Third party credibility is a powerful form of social proof.
2. Your potential customers are already digital savvy social buyers
Your customer uses social media to find vendors, research and form an opinion about a potential vendor.
The social buyer is doing all of this well in advance of making any preliminary contact with a sales professional.
In 57 percent of the cases, the buyer has already gone through the initial purchase process, and the majority of these digital-savvy customers are using social contacts and relevant information to make informed decisions about how they are going to address their immediate needs and wants.
If you are not using social listening and engaging with these socially savvy buyers that are in this early stage of research, then you are missing out on potential sales opportunities.
3. Your competition is leveraging social selling
As much as 70 percent of all B2B sales professionals are already utilizing social selling skills and tools online. The millennials that are using social selling push that to 78 percent. If you are not leveraging social selling already you can be assured that your competition certainly will.
Social Selling Best Practices
Maybe you’ve already attempted to use social selling with limited success by creating a few social profiles, making a few connections and even sharing some content without an actual strategy.
Let’s share some pro tips on how to move beyond these random acts of social and how to move social networking to the front and center of your sales process.
1. You’re not a robot
There are plenty of social bots and even now some artificial Intelligence software that can save time by responding with canned messages to people on social media.
If you are going to use social to build authentic relationships you have to act like a human and be approachable.
The ultimate objectives are to be engaging, be omnipresent, be yourself, provide value and build relationships.
It’s also important to have a consistent personal brand across your social profiles that not only customer-centric but also reflects how you add value and insights.
Be honest, be human or be gone.
2. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason
Your clients and prospects are sharing their problems, wants and needs on their social channels in the hope that someone they trust will help them with exactly what they need. All you have to do is be listening to take action.
There are some tools like Feedly, Google Alerts, BuzzSumo, and others to monitor the conversations happening around your keywords, products or services, competitors and your industry. By monitoring these areas, you can spot problems, pain points and recommendation requests that will allow for you to respond with valuable insights that lead to solutions.
Before reaching out directly find out if they have any mutual connections on your social platforms where you might be able to get a referral introduction to them. When you do reach out to connect be sure to do so with a personalized connection request.
3. Always give value
You cannot approach social selling with a sales pitch. Start with the mindset of giving value without the expectation of getting anything in return. This allows the prospect to feel comfortable to engage conversation with you that can ultimately lead to a sale through building a trust-based relationship with your prospect.
4. Build authentic relationships
Keep in touch with your new social connections. Don’t just let the bots tell you they have a birthday coming up or they just got promoted. Occasionally (if relevant) share their content posts, also like and comment on their posts.
When you see questions posted, that would be a great time to jump in with a thoughtful response or a piece of content to educate them further.
If you stay the course with this approach, you become their go-to trusted advisor by sharing your knowledge, insight and empathy to help them. When you do this, you will be top of mind and the first person they come to when they are ready to make a purchase for the solution you offer.
Quick Start Guide to LinkedIn & Twitter
Now that you understand the why and the what of best social selling best practices, let’s discuss some of the social platforms that are ideal for putting this all into practice.
As a business-oriented social platform, LinkedIn is the obvious place to get started with social selling. Most of your B2B buyers can be found on LinkedIn whether they’re actively engaged in LinkedIn groups, researching vendors by keywords or advanced searches, so you will need to have an active social presence to stand out on this platform.
1. Build your foundation
Re-write your LinkedIn profile to be more customer-centric and less about you. Utilize keywords in your copy that your audience may be actively searching for on LinkedIn. A good resource for this is the book The LinkedIn Code, which covers in-depth how to write a profile that will stand out and attract your ideal customers.
Ask for appropriate endorsements and recommendations from your connections whom you have a good relationship with.
Your summary section should highlight your expertise and speak directly to how you can help your new connections. Focus on how you help businesses achieve their goals and objectives, and not on how many sales awards have.
Your LinkedIn profile is no longer your resume, but your first introduction to potential clients so put your best foot forward.
2. Build your network with ideal prospects
Create a potential profile of your ideal client and then learn how to use tools like Sales Navigator and Boolean searches within LinkedIn to find your best prospects.
Set a monthly goal of how many of these new connections you would like to make each month.
3. Develop your core messaging
Keep track of your prospects and the messages you will send to engage with them.
Create a game plan of how you will nurture these relationships at each social touch point.
Develop the appropriate message templates that you can use and personalize for each connection.
4. Share great content
You want to stay top of mind with your LinkedIn community by sharing status updates and longer LinkedIn Publisher posts. This is an ideal way to position yourself as an authority, add value and remain top of mind with your connections.
There are a few ways you can utilize Twitter for lead generation and social listening. Using Twitter lists is a great way to segment clients, prospects, competitors and third party content that’s worthy of sharing. You can also monitor conversations that are happening with advanced search and hashtags.
1. Twitter Lists
Create at least these four private Twitter lists: Clients, Prospects, Competitors, Industry News/Content.
Use the existing client list to stay informed about what they are tweeting about so that you can quickly reply with insightful information and stay top of mind with them.
As you establish and identify prospects on LinkedIn and other social platforms you can add them to your private prospect list on Twitter. Keep an eye out for the problems they may be asking for help on Twitter for and only engage if you can offer valuable help.
2. Twitter Advanced Search
Use Twitter Advanced Search as a social listening tool to refine your search for relevant keywords or exact phrases that might be top of mind for your prospects. You can even use location and date range to find people to engage with on Twitter.
Use this advanced operator in the Twitter search box http ? “your keyword” to search for questions that are happening around your keywords.
3. Twitter Hashtags
Twitter has a built-in conversation finder. It’s called the hashtag. Just jump over to your favorite browser and type in #socialselling and you will see countless tweets about social selling. Hint: Use that search operator above to find the questions people are asking with those hashtags.
How to Measure Your Social Selling Success
LinkedIn provides a Social Selling Index Score that measures four key areas of Social Selling:
- Establishing your professional brand
- Find the right people
- Engage with insights
- Build relationships
LinkedIn’s algorithm measures how well you perform your social selling activities in these areas and brings back an overall score and then shows you how to improve in areas you might have weaknesses.
Social selling at the end of the day is about building authentic relationships, establishing yourself as a trusted advisor and providing valuable and relevant information to your ideal prospect at the right time and place.
Are there other areas of social selling that you would like us to cover in more depth? If so send me a message here or leave a comment below.
- Social Sells – The Mini-Guide to Social Selling – Salesforce UK Blog, Salesforce UK & Ireland Blog
- Why Social Selling Needs To Be In Your Organization – Kissmetrics Blog
- What is Social Selling? – LinkedIn Sales Solutions
Brian Mcfarlane is a digital marketer from Montreal with a focus on SEO and social media.