Though sale tactics are probably as vast as the stars in the sky, one that has gained traction over the last decade is social selling. Not surprisingly, its ascent is tied to the increased usage of social media in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. If you aren’t familiar with social selling, it’s very similar to lead nurturing. As an inbound sales tactic, it relies on social networks as platforms to interact with current and potential customers.
Since this sales tactic is built around the delivery of a personalized buying experience for every customer, it may take some time to set the foundation for social selling. Social selling allows you to get to know each customer and their unique pain points so that you’re in a position to offer solutions. Beyond the sale, you know you are successful at social selling if you build relationships and gain loyal customers with every interaction.
Eighty-one percent of business buyers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations” State of the Connected Customer, Second Edition | Salesforce Research
So, how does social selling differ from social media marketing?
If social selling sounds a lot like social media marketing to you, you wouldn’t be alone. The primary difference between social selling and social media marketing is that sales professionals lead the charge in social selling to attract individuals for one-on-one relationships. Social media marketing usually sits with the marketing team, and the goal is to influence many through social channels. Additionally, social selling depends on salespeople to create individual social media accounts to interact with prospects and customers, while social media marketing uses company brand accounts to communicate with communities and larger audiences.
Seventy-eight percent of salespeople using social media outsell their peers” Jim Keenan | CEO of A Sales Guy Consulting
Does social selling work?
Think about the problems that your product or service solves and the organizations that have those needs. At its best social selling becomes much less about convincing companies to try and buy your software as it becomes the practice of reaffirming expertise in your vertical and letting those in your community know that you’re knowledgable about problems that plague your industry. And, incidentally, you have the robust solutions that will solve their pain points. In this way, social selling marries social media marketing, influencer tactics, word-of-mouth marketing, and brand building.
Seventy-eight percent of business buyers seek trusted advisors — not just salespeople — that add value to their business” State of Sales, Third Edition | Salesforce Research
Social selling is an effective high-touch sales tactic because the approach aligns with what business buyers say they prefer when evaluating solutions.
Do these four things to start social selling
1. Create a professional profile on a social network
The leading social media platforms for professional purposes are probably LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Pinterest, and Instagram. Before you write your social profiles, make sure you’ve done the research. If you have access to social listening software, analyze which social platforms prospects interact on. For many in the B2B space, LinkedIn is probably the social platform of choice. But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule — it can vary depending on the industry and niche market. When you’ve chosen the platform(s) you’d like to cultivate relationships on, look at other professional profiles to model the language and tone you should follow. And while it should go without saying, don’t plagiarize any other accounts. Pay special attention to the tone that you use in your profile. Create an honest profile and try to keep the sales language to a minimum. If you’re unsure about how you’re coming across, ask a non-sales professional to look over your profiles and edit out anything they suggest is too promotional. For social platforms that have groups (like LinkedIn and Facebook) make sure to join those relevant to your prospects and industry.
2. Find the right people to connect and interact with
Your traditional sales research skills come in handy here. Instead of putting prospects in the pipeline for cold calling, look them up online and identify the social platforms they are active on. Once you identify a few candidates in this way, use this intel to widen your social network connections. When you come across prospect’s posts, make sure to leave relevant and insightful comments. Make sure your initial interactions do not contain sales info. Remember you’re here to build relationships first.
In this regard, selling is a deeply personal activity that requires a great deal of soft skills” State of Sales, Third Edition | Salesforce Research
3. Share insightful content
An easy way to get relevant insights is to work with your organization’s marketing team to highlight blog posts, research reports, or other thought leadership materials. Don’t forget to follow your brand’s social media accounts to retweet, share, or otherwise broadcast on-brand messages. It’s easy to add your own insights by commenting on brand posts. Once you’ve gotten the hang of posting updates, create an alert with either your social listening software or Google to surface specific keywords and topics that are industry relevant. Mix in content from a variety of sources with relevant commentary on the posts you’re sharing. Once you’ve gotten the hang of posting content, try your hand at producing original long-form content on industry-relevant topics. You can publish this on LinkedIn or Medium and share it throughout your profiles, inviting commentary.
As customers expect more personalized, consultative engagement, salespeople bear the brunt of the change” State of Sales, Third Edition | Salesforce Research
4. Build relationships with prospects
Of course, these social selling tactics are a playbook for professional relationship building on social networks. In this way, you’ve branded yourself as an expert and micro-influencer in your vertical/industry. And by building these one-on-one relationships, you have (hopefully) set up opportunities to provide solutions when your connections have needs that arise.
Eighty-four percent of customers say that being treated like a person, rather than a number, is very important to winning their business” State of the Connected Customer, Second Edition | Salesforce Research
So, what are you waiting for? Start social selling today!
If you’d like more insights into modern sales, download the Salesforce State of Sales report now.