WHAT IS SOCIAL SELLING?
Social selling is the modern day sales practice of using social media channels to communicate with prospective clients by building meaningful business connections as a way to help support and drive the sales process.
Social selling is a form of modern client relationship building, a new way to establish and strengthen B2B relationships. Through social selling, companies and individuals are actively connecting with potential customers on social media, which can help raise a seller’s brand profile.
What Social Selling is not
Social selling is not just about adding new contacts to your list or simply building the largest network possible. It’s a chance for the seller to present themselves as subject matter experts and provide real value to prospects even before a sale is made. By providing value up front, the seller is more likely to build trust and confidence. In other words, it’s all about building credibility. Social Selling provides the opportunity to transform the buyer/seller relationship into one of subject matter expert/interested party.
Social selling is also not a substitute for other traditional methods of reaching out to prospective clients, i.e., Email, Telephone. It should be seen as another tool in the salespersons toolbox and used in combination with those traditional methods.
Unlike a standard “one size fits all” sales and marketing approach, Social Selling allows for a more personalised client engagement. In order to make and develop these social connections, the Social Seller will provide “content” or information of value, which is designed to show up on the news feeds of their specific targets/prospects. The aim then is to leverage those individual relationships (often more than one per target organisation) into sales.
Social Selling also isn’t always about closing. You’ve no doubt heard the sales mantra “Always Be Closing” made famous in the 1992 David Mamet film, Glengarry Glen Ross”. Well Social Selling has created a new mantra and that is “ Always Be Connecting”. It’s the connection that leads to the conversation that ultimately is helping the buyer to buy, which is all about getting them to a close.
Finally, Social selling is certainly not about bombarding strangers with unsolicited Tweets and DMs. That’s spam. Don’t do it.
Why should your business care about Social Selling?
Social Selling is not new. Its now well established and thriving. The benefits are proven, and you can bet that your competitors are already utilising Social Selling!
1. Shorten the Sales Cycle
Customers who are already actively engaged in conversations on social platforms will potentially be more informed and further down the decision-making path than those who are not. Utilising social selling allows your sales reps to go a step further and identify leads that are already talking about your business, your competitors or your industry.
Through social selling, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as a recognised expert and give your brand tangible value and upfront credibility. This often results in less “persuading” during sales process, thereby shortening the entire sales cycle and increasing the probability of success. Online networks such as Google has made the entire pre-purchase research faster and easier for buyers.
A study by CEB (2011) reported that of the 1500 key decision makers polled, on average they were 57% of the way through their decision making process before even meeting a salesperson. In some cases this was as high as 90%!
2. Gain customer insights, uncover sales opportunities
Social Selling gives you deeper insights into the interests and needs of interested buyers. It also provides the seller with an opportunity to address common misconceptions and misunderstandings at a very early stage of the sales process, which if left unresolved could scupper a sale before it’s even begun. Additionally it’s an efficient method for lead generation activity and qualifying targets. According to the business network LinkedIn, 65% of B2B members accept messages from salespeople with whom they are connected or have connections in common.
According to LinkedIn Sales Solutions’ internal data:
3. Build Up a Competence Profile, Influence Buying Decisions
As Social Selling and the use of social platforms to connect with potential buyers becomes more commonplace, it will be essential to build strong client relationships. One recent study reported that over 70% of all B2B buyers conduct extensive online research to assist them in making any purchasing decisions. A vendor’s online content and reputation played a crucial part in regards to influencing the final decision to purchase. A 2021 Hubspot report found that around 50% of buyers on average look at 3 to 5 copies of content before contacting a sales person.
4. Managing your online business image and credibility
One of the greatest advantages that Social Selling provides is the opportunity it provides to manage businesses image and credibility online. Online reviews/ customer feedback forums can have a significant impact (positive and negative) on buyers’ decision to buy a particular product or service. Building and managing a positive reputation among social media prospects can help draw more interested people to your business.
The benefits include;
· Raising brand awareness
· Establishing Trust
· Monitoring competitor activities and positioning.
· Address concerns/negative feedback at an early stage.