B2B selling through social media became increasingly commonplace in 2020 as sales professionals sought added routes to precious leads, investing time in their visibility and presence on the most engaging platforms.
In essence, social selling allows sales professionals to laser-target their prospecting and establish deeper rapport with existing connections, ultimately delivering richer, longer-lasting customer relationships and more conversion opportunities.
Yet despite the huge benefits on offer and the ease of accessibility and usage of the key platforms, many sales operations underuse their individual and company social media accounts to sell more intelligently or neglect to do so altogether. With the most popular social channels, such as Linkedin and Twitter, boasting as many as 700 and 187 million active users, respectively, these businesses are missing a trick.
According to research from LinkedIn, social selling leaders create as many as 45% more opportunities than their peers and are 51% more likely to reach their sales target quotas. Additionally, 39% of B2B professionals say social selling reduces their lead search time, while a third also believe it increases their total number of leads.
There is, of course, so much more to social selling than simply liking other people’s content and following existing customers, but thankfully, getting the basics right needn’t be onerous.
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Social selling is all about identifying and engaging with prospects and existing customers online on key platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Whether they’re conscious of it or not, every time a sales professional logs in to a social media network to identify new prospects, make new connections, and share valuable content and insights, they are social selling.
While more traditional sales techniques are geared towards shorter-term bottom-line sales results, social selling is a ‘softer,’ more long-term strategy that focuses on building relationships, increasing brand awareness, and gently nurturing prospects.
Every social selling campaign should start with setting smart goals and establishing key performance indicators that will enable you to monitor your social progress over time. Typical goal setting for many businesses embarking on the process revolves around measurable targets such as the number of contacts forged in a particular field, the number of conversations started or meetings secured, and ultimately, sales secured.
Whatever your goals, you should ensure they are realistic, measurable and easily understood by individual members of your team.
Choose your channel(s)
For the vast majority of B2B sales operations, the most obvious and appropriate social channels to use initially will be LinkedIn and Twitter.
LinkedIn has become the global go-to resource for jobs, industry news, and buyers looking for solutions, and many professionals use it to learn new expertise and skills. Making contact with customers, prospects, and potential buyers on the platform is straightforward, allowing sales professionals to bring a human-to-human approach to sales.
Twitter allows organizations to talk with their audiences in a way that other social networks do not, with many studies showing it is the second most-used platform for social selling and content marketing efforts behind Linkedin. The intuitive functionality allows users to connect with individuals in real time, pose and answer questions, post updates, and reply to other posts, making it a highly effective platform for relationship building and engagement.
Whatever your market or area of specialism, the basic rule of thumb should always be to follow your audience. Once you have mastered your presence on the platforms where your customers and prospects are most active, over time, additional content-sharing platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram can be easily integrated into your efforts.
Right profile, right people
Before you start to make connections, it’s important to create a compelling profile for yourself or your company. Then, it’s time to build your network. Most businesses and individuals begin the process by seeking out and connecting with existing customers, known prospects, and industry associates, then look to spread their tentacles more widely by interacting with thought leaders in their industry to position themselves as a credible authority on chosen subjects.
Consider the key challenges, questions and issues your customers face and share associated insights.
Sharing quality content that is commercially relevant and engaging to your audience is absolutely essential when looking to establish your social credentials. A good place to start is to consider the key challenges, questions, and issues your customers face and share associated insights. Whatever the subject focus, the key to success is consistency – the more you interact, engage, and share quality, tailored content, the better!
Data delivers compelling collateral.
Of course, any effort to harness new channels to increase dialogue with customers and prospects should be underpinned by audience-appropriate insights. This is where companies who harvest their key customer data stand at a significant advantage. With the ability to call on detailed metrics surrounding their key customer buying behaviors at the touch of a button through sales enablement software like sales-i, they have a ready-made bank of rich insights to call on and share across social channels - be it with individual prospects about their own unique requirements or more general insights about specific markets for a wider audience.
Practice makes perfect
While there can sometimes be an initial apprehension around social selling, the good news is the process can and should be enjoyable. What’s more, there’s a huge wealth of resources online to help both individuals and companies kickstart the process or take their techniques to the next level. Looking for further inspiration? Then why not check out and follow our own social media channels on Linkedin and Twitter? We look forward to engaging with you soon.