Social Selling Helps Boost Sales
Not that long ago, consumers didn’t have information at their fingertips and businesses were successful in using outbound sales and marketing methods such as cold calling and email blasts to close sales.
Today, the buyer’s journey has changed thanks to the internet of things (IOT) and advancements in technology. Now, 57% of the purchase journey is completed before a customer has contacted a business (CEB), and 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally (SiriusDecisions).
The rise of social media has encouraged organizations to look into ways they can use the technology to improve their sales, which has led to the development of social selling.
What is social selling and why should you care?
I define social selling as the process of researching, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks. It focuses on nurturing leads, building brand authenticity and building trust with your prospects.
Leading firms have taken advantage of social selling and have begun reaping the benefits it offers. Research has shown that 70% of sales professionals are active on LinkedIn for business purposes, 89% believe social networking platforms such as LinkedIn are important in closing deals, and 64% of sales reps who invest time in social media are hitting their sales quota (SuperOffice).
But to stand out from the noise on social media, it’s essential to provide value to your audience through high-quality content, insight, and real conversations to enhance each touchpoint that your audience has with you and your business.
What are the benefits that social selling offers?
1. It appeals to the modern buyer.
B2B buyers have 12 to 18 non-human and human interactions along their buyer’s journey (Sirius Decisions), and 68% of buyers prefer to research products and services online (Forrester). It’s essential that you develop and push information and content on social channels that resonate with your target audience and provide the solution to their problems. This will enable you to influence their choices and position your business as front of mind.
2. It allows you to build “real” relationships.
How many cold calls do you actually answer, listen to, and respond to?
It’s time for businesses to break down the barriers around selling and get on the same page as their customers. Social selling supports this, as through social media listening tools, you’re able to listen to topics and conversations that are relevant to your industry. This technique will not only give you insight into what’s important to your prospects, but it’ll also present new opportunities and leads.
3. Your competitors are already using social selling.
Seventy-one percent of all sales professionals are already using social selling tools, so if you aren’t you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage (LinkedIn).
For example, Microsoft is one organization that has taken hold of the power of social selling. Their social selling pilot program started with 15 people selling Microsoft Azure through their LinkedIn accounts to find their own customers. This boosted the productivity of their team by 38% and helped lead to the program scaling to 3,000+ sellers.
4. The Mere Exposure Effect
The Mere Exposure Effect was first spoken about in 1968 by social psychologist Robert Zajonc. This social phenomenon states that the more a person is exposed to something, the more they’ll develop a preference toward that thing over time.
Social media gives businesses the ability to tap into this theory through regular and consistent posting and updates. When you’ve created and put into action a dedicated strategy, you can begin to utilize social media channels to your advantage and ensure that you have messages trickling through all the channels that your audiences use, creating multiple touchpoints with them.
If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail…
To successfully leverage social selling, you need to optimize your social channels to showcase your expertise. For example, research from LinkedIn revealed that members with a photo receive 21 times more profile views and nine times more connection requests compared to those who don’t.
So, what do you need to do to give a positive first impression on your social channels?
Here are my top tips:
- Post a professional head-and-shoulders image of yourself
- Write your bio/summary to highlight your expertise and what you do on a professional level
- Include links to your website and other social channels to encourage visits
- Utilize hashtags that your prospects follow
- Create lists on Twitter to monitor content from specific accounts
- On LinkedIn include your job title and keywords in your headline, ask for recommendations to boost your credibility, and join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry and begin networking in them
Social selling best practices
Once your profiles are ready to be rolled out, it’s time to kick off your social selling strategy.
- Dedicate yourself
Start by creating a plan and setting aside time to dedicate yourself to building your social presence. Being present on multiple social channels can be time consuming, but if you spend 30 minutes every day monitoring your channels, engaging with others, and posting content ,it’ll help ease the pressures and ensure your feeds are always up to date.
- Create and stick to a content plan
The purpose of a content plan is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content that engages, resonates, and attracts your target audience. In today’s social web environment, getting the right message to the right customer at the right time is crucial. And, to stay front of mind, build rapport and trust and position yourself as an expert, you’ll need to have a solid content plan in place.
- Take advantage of social listening
Create and use social lists and monitoring streams to collate what people are saying about you, your company, your industry, and competitors, and identify what questions they’re asking and topics they are talking about.
- Maintain relationships once you’ve created them
Once you’ve made new connections it’s important to stay engaged with them over time. So, comment on and like the content that is posted by your prospects. Be sure to offer advice and guidance to them and contribute to their conversations in a meaningful way if they ask questions.
- Share testimonials
Success stories from other customers have a lot of weight, and research from Pretty Links suggests 92% of buyers trust recommendations from peers, and 70% trust recommendations from strangers. By gaining and sharing third-party testimonials, you’ll start to build your credibility with prospects and it’s more likely that they’ll begin to trust your business.
- Track engagement
Tracking metrics such as likes, comments, and shares will allow you to identify the types of content that resonate the most with your audience. And, it’ll enable you to determine if your social selling activities are paying off.
- Understand when to take your connections offline
To land a sale, you’ll need to escalate the connection with a prospect by offering them a call to continue the conversation offline and on a deeper level. And, it’s important not to try and push a call before prospects are ready.
Sudhir Kumar is marketing director at Origin Blurbs.