When the first social media platforms started to sprout in the early 2000s, nobody – from sales reps to entrepreneurs – could foresee the opportunities they would generate. Today, these opportunities still change and develop so fast that it can be challenging to keep up with the latest sales strategies.
In turn, a business that still only uses ads, comments, and hashtags as its marketing campaign’s workhorses is likely to be missing out on the full potential of social media platforms. In fact, when used properly, these channels can help create a tailored, more personal message to laser-target prospects and create long-term relationships. This concept – social selling – is not a new entry in the marketing universe, but it is finding new applications in the era of social media. Here’s what you need to know to leverage social selling in your campaign and sales funnels.
What is social selling?
Social selling is a long-term sales strategy that allows a business to leverage its social network to find leads and connect with the right prospects. Instead of overtly selling goods or services, social selling will enable brands to build and nurture trustworthy, personal relationships with their leads.
When building such relationships with prospects, salespeople can have the chance to answer questions personally, offer guidance, and establish the brand as an authority. In turn, this can assist with building loyalty and a favorable reputation – especially as over 90% of B2B buyers are more likely to engage with an industry leader or vendor able to offer industry insights.
Social selling comes as a more relevant alternative to cold calling. Statistics from 2015 show how 90% of C-level executives were already not engaging with any cold outreach over five years ago. This percentage has been increasing since, decreasing the efficiency of cold calling and causing sales experts to look into other channels.
When looking into the potential of social selling, it takes seconds to understand that a business would be missing out without this technique. Social selling can increase a team’s chance to reach their sales goals by 51% and offer an ROI of $5 for every $1 invested. While the benefits of social selling can be appealing, it is essential to highlight the differences between this strategy and social media marketing. While they both have goals to increase profits, raise brand awareness, and improve reputation, SMM is led by the marketing team and focuses on reaching as broad an audience as possible. Social selling targets a few but valuable prospects and it is brought to life by the sales team.
Why is social selling so important?
Social selling is a slow-burning sales strategy that can help businesses build stronger relationships, explore new markets, and hit profit targets. When compared to other sales strategies, social selling is of particular importance.
As we have seen, an increasing number of B2B buyers and C-level executives don’t engage with cold calling techniques. But, even more interestingly, they use social media for personal and professional interactions. Therefore, for a business to tap into this potential, it is crucial to be as active on social networks as its prospects.
What makes social selling even more attractive is that 78% of businesses use it to outsell their competitors. Since it is a relatively new strategy, social selling can help a company build a communication channel with its audience that is not yet so crowded. Check out some of the benefits of incorporating social selling in your funnel below!
It helps to build stronger relationships
Every business strives to build an exclusive relationship with its customers built on loyalty, trust, and respect. However, a few brands actually manage to do so.
Over the past years, social media channels and networks have been deemed the death of authentic, personal relationships. But they have proven themselves to be precisely the opposite – when used correctly!
Through social selling, your business can nurture relationships with prospects around the world. From answering questions to providing help and expert advice, salespeople can engage and get to know their prospects.
Like in face-to-face interactions, the more you know about the interlocutor’s background, the higher the chances of success. On social media, this isn’t different.
Salespeople can use the information their prospect shared over time to have a clearer picture of their needs and wants, background, and pain points – which is invaluable in the hands of an expert salesperson! They can help them tailor messages, personalize emails, and take the conversation beyond just social media engagement.
It helps businesses “meet” prospects
For businesses, it can be challenging to build a pristine reputation. Indeed, especially if they are young, established competitors might not give them a chance to prove their worth.
Or, as they build their customer base, they might have to deal with public reviews and ratings. Because of these obstacles, it can be challenging for an organization to find new customers and markets to tap into. At the same time, buyers might struggle to find a business to meet their needs and solve their problems.
- Discover new products and solutions for their pain points
- Learn about the different vendors offering the product they need
- Review the brand reputation and goals to check whether it is a good fit for their values.
By contacting leads directly, salespeople can answer all of these questions before a buyer can start checking out the various options (including the competition!)
Most businesses are social selling
Including social selling in your sales campaign is essential because your competitors have probably already incorporated this strategy. In fact, social media is a direct development of cold calling, which is simply more personal, relevant, and efficient than sales demos and unwanted phone calls.
As most businesses are leveraging this strategy, it is essential for your brand not to fall behind and miss out on crucial sales opportunities.
Compared to other sales strategies, social selling is affordable, efficient, and yields an impressive ROI. Becoming a social seller is essential to remain competitive and win over the loyalty of your target market before another competitor has the chance to.
Social selling techniques
Social selling is one of the most efficient sales strategies to implement to connect with leads and increase sales. However, since salespeople will need to refine their expertise and nurture every relationship, social selling can be a time-intensive strategy. Thus, it is essential to be clear on what techniques your business needs and how to implement them correctly.
Understand how social selling works across different platforms
Firstly, depending on your age and habits, one platform might come to mind when speaking about social media. It can be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. When defining a social selling platform, it is crucial to understand that each platform has different users and audiences.
Depending on your target market, you might opt to deploy your strategy on specific platforms rather than others. If you use multiple channels, you will need to tailor your approach depending on the platform.
Here are a few examples to consider:
Ideal for B2B selling and contacting C-level executives, LinkedIn mostly welcomes professionals, business owners, and industry leaders. Building relationships with your audience on LinkedIn allows your business to increase reputation and credibility. Over 50% of B2B buyers consult LinkedIn during their decision-making process.
More suitable for the B2C market and eCommerce, Instagram is a great platform for social selling. As of 2021, Instagram has over 1 billion users, and 80% of these actively use the platform during their decision-making process. Thanks to the most recent updates, users can shop directly on Instagram instead of redirecting to a vendor’s site, streamlining the purchase process.
Instagram is also essential to build your brand image. It is great for visual marketing and communicating business values – something important when over 70% of consumers opt for brands that align with their own values.
Twitter is suitable for B2B and B2C social selling. Thanks to the recent Twitter Lists feature, you can keep track of your competitors and leads.
Gain insights through social listening
Social listening is an active component of social selling. Social listening is the strategy of better understanding a target market by listening to the audience. A business can do so by monitoring mentions, competitors, and specific keywords on social media.
Thanks to this process, businesses can learn about the market’s pain points, desires, and needs. From a sales perspective, social listening is crucial to identifying conversations currently happening and getting involved.
Social listening can be a potent tool to start a conversation with potential customers and convert leads into sales. However, before sending salespeople to interact with the audience, it is essential to:
- Identify where your target market is, what platforms they are using, and what conversations they are interested in having.
- Understand the keywords and hashtags you need to have a conversation with the right people. Important indicators are help terms, jargon, mentions, and geo-specific words. These are all tags that might give you a window of opportunity to strike a conversation.
- Monitor the competition and understand their strategy.
- Respond to questions immediately and with insights.
- Use the insights you have gathered to continue working on your customer experience.
Become a thought leader
Becoming a thought leader is an excellent option to build authority and nurture a reputation as an industry leader. In turn, this will make you a more appealing interlocutor for potential leads.
Some crucial strategies to become a thought leader include:
- Share original content that is helpful, authoritative, and beneficial for your audience
- Be consistent in your voice tone, the information given, and content shared
- Continue investing in training and knowledge for your sales team.
Over 50% of prospects consider thought leadership as one of the deciding factors in hiring an organization.
Connect with prospects
Over the years, social media platforms have assumed many roles and responsibilities. However, their main scope is to connect individuals and promote networking. Ignoring the power of these channels in your sales strategy can be very dangerous for a growing business.
When interacting with prospects, drop the sales pitches and instead build valuable and trustworthy relationships. A great way to strike a conversation would be to answer an issue or query a prospect might have.
With such a strategy, it is easy to see how ⅔ of social sellers can fill their pipelines, while only half of sales reps who don’t use social selling manage to do so.
Social selling is a relevant and efficient alternative to a traditional sales strategy. Instead of offering sales pitches and demos, social sellers use a “how can I help” attitude to connect with prospects, build long-lasting relationships, and encourage trust.
In the long-term, this leads to a pristine business reputation, high levels of customer loyalty, and a more extensive network to count on.
A social sale strategy should start from social listening and offer real value and help to customers. A business that is a thought leader and authority has much higher chances to obtain responses and lead a prospect down the sales funnel.
Rebecca DiCioccio is the Marketing Manager at Paperform. Outside of work, Rebecca can be found exploring the outdoors or with a book in hand. Rebecca’s background in copywriting and a keen interest in SEO and digital marketing mean she understands the importance of staying up to date with the latest trends in a dynamic and ever-changing industry.
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What is social selling?
The method of forming partnerships as part of the sales process is known as social selling. Today, this is often done via social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, but it can still be done offline.
What are social selling tools for e-commerce?
Most online businesses use tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Hootsuite, SocialPort, Nimble, RingLead DMS Capture, Meltwater and Buffer.
What is social listening?
Monitoring social media platforms for references of your name, rivals, product, and other topics is referred to as social listening. Brands may use social listening to track, interpret, and react to social media messages around them. It’s an essential part of the audience analysis process.