Social selling is more than just a modern buzzword. It’s a cutting-edge sales technology, able to connect your business with better leads that are more likely to become long-term customers. It flips the switch on traditional cold calls and takes a customer-centric approach, which is exactly what businesses need to do to stand out from their ever-increasing competition.
Social selling can require some finesse. Since it’s a sales approach that requires you to avoid appearing salesy, choosing the right techniques are necessary. We’ll explore how social selling works, then dive into best practices that you can implement in your business.
What Is Social Selling?
Social selling is the practice of using social media to build relationships with potential customers. It involves connecting with prospects in meaningful ways – for instance, by answering their questions with infographics – in an effort to gain their trust and keep your brand at the top of their minds.
As you provide your prospects with more value over time, they’ll be more likely to take your guidance and move toward a purchase.
Social selling is distinct from social networking. Whereas social networking is all about individuals connecting with friends, family members and community, social selling occurs when brands or sales reps target potential customers. Also, unlike social media marketing, which is often performed by marketers and advertisers with the goal of brand awareness, social selling is done by salespeople with the goal of turning leads into customers.
B2C vs. B2B Social Selling
Social selling can look different depending on who your customers are. Compared to consumers, businesses typically have more complex needs and spend more time on decision-making. As a result, the B2B social selling process tends to be longer and more heavily focused on educating customers. B2C social selling is faster, often quickly converting prospects by placing sales promotions beside high-value posts.
B2B salespeople must take a more professional approach to social selling. While B2C companies are often more playful and entertaining, since consumers connect best with personable brands, B2B businesses are often more helpful and serious.
Why Social Leads Are Higher Quality
Social media doesn’t just help you expose your brand to a large audience. It can also help you gain more leads who are likely to become loyal customers. Since social media is a two-way communication channel that’s designed to foster close connections – much more so than email – it can help you establish a relationship before you even win a sale. The level of trust you gain through social selling can lead to a smoother sales process as you work toward a close.
Plus, social media users choose to be part of your niche community. Since they’ve actively chosen to follow your brand on a platform that’s less intrusive than calls or texts, they may be more responsive to your sales efforts.
Social media leads are also exposed to plenty of social proof that your brand is the real deal. While interacting with your brand on social apps, they can be influenced by current customers who interact with your posts, as well as by any testimonials you share.
Social Selling Best Practices
Your products won’t fly out the door just because you’re using social media as a sales channel. To effectively implement social selling, take these three steps:
Set Social Selling Goals
Every business needs analytics to determine how their campaigns are performing. Tracking metrics can help you to optimize your social selling tactics and, as a result, increase your return on investment (ROI). Before you can do so, you need to generate a set of measurable social selling goals that tell you what metrics actually matter for your business.
When you’re writing out your long-term goals, be specific about what you want to achieve — for instance, “50% revenue growth” instead of “more sales” — and when you want to achieve it. Then, establish incremental benchmarks that you want to meet along the way. Make sure to get weekly updates on the focus metrics, known as key performance indicators or KPIs.
Train Your Sales Team
Not all salespeople are experienced with virtual networking, which can be incredibly different from offline sales strategies of the past. To build a team of effective social sellers, you need to establish expectations for your staff to help them form new connections online. For instance, you can provide a marketing workflow chart to help your sales reps review their written communication before they message prospects, as well as provide questions that they can ask.
Avoid Pushing Your Product or Service Outright
Social selling doesn’t work when you’re overtly pushing your products or services. Instead, your sales team must consider what information is valuable for your prospects. This content can steadily persuade your potential clients that your solution is a good fit for their needs, without pushing them away.
How to Implement Social Selling in Your Business
So, what does social selling look like in action? Once you choose the social media channels that can best help you reach your ideal customers, social selling is all about getting your target audience engaged, then engaging right back.
Start by creating valuable content like infographics that break down complex topics or graphics and captions that share insights from your blog posts. When you’re actively helping clients learn and solve problems, you can establish your credibility and your authority in your industry.
Then, get proactive about engaging with prospective customers by using tactics like:
- Joining viral conversations with meaningful comments
- Direct messaging potential customers on LinkedIn
- Using social listening tools like Google Alerts or Hootsuite to respond to brand, product, or service mentions in a timely manner
- Project Management Software
- Responding to comments on your posts
Social Selling Is the New Cold Calling
The days of aggressive sales calls are over. As B2B sales teams become more customer-centric, winning over customers by catering to client needs, you need to prioritize building relationships, too. This is where social selling comes in. Social selling calls for salespeople to add value to their prospects’ lives, so you can gain their trust. This ultimately leads to greater credibility for your business and easier conversions for your sales team.