You’ve probably heard about social selling. If not, then we’re here to let you in on everything about it.
While it has the word “social” in it, it’s not the same as social media marketing or advertising. But, it does have something to do with social media and everything to do with people, specifically your targeted prospects.
Social selling has become the modern way of finding and interacting with prospects. Statistics show that about 90% of salespeople are utilizing social selling tools. Moreover, 64% of sales reps apply social selling methods to reach their team quotas.
Are you curious if it’s a strategy that can work for your business? This guide to social selling will help you understand how valuable it is to your bottom line. Let’s get started!
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is a strategy that uses social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to connect and engage directly with your target sales prospects. It’s a popular way of creating meaningful relationships with prospective customers, replacing the good old practice of cold calling. However, it doesn’t involve any hard selling or direct selling tactics.
Over the years, the way we do sales has evolved. These days, it’s all about building strong and trusted relationships with your customers. Using social media for sales leaves prospects the impression that you’re an expert and an authoritative figure in your field. It puts you in a greater position against your competitors, who still use traditional sales techniques.
Social selling uses social media to tap the right prospects, build brand awareness, and establish relationships with potential customers. This sales strategy brings you on top of your potential customers’ minds, making you the first person or brand they think of when they’re finally ready to purchase a product or service like yours.
Social Selling Statistics and Fast Facts
Are you wondering if social selling would work for your business? Take a look at some key facts and figures below to see how well it works.
- There are about 3.5 billion active social media users around the world in 2019.
- About 89% of top-performing sales professionals use social networking platforms as part of their sales strategy.
- 70% of modern sales professionals say that they’re most active on LinkedIn for business purposes, compared to Facebook (64%) and Twitter (43%)
- Social selling programs can drive improved pipeline, better win rates, and roughly 48% bigger deals.
- Sales representatives who leverage social selling see a 31% higher ROI compared to those who stick to traditional selling methods.
- About 84% of C-level executives utilize social media to make buying decisions, while 75% of B2B buyers use it for their purchasing choices.
- 33% of users prefer to connect with brands using social media rather than through phone calls
- Research shows that top sales professionals who close deals 51% more than their peers view social networking platforms as “very important” to their success.
- 39% of B2B professionals say social selling decreases their lead search time; meanwhile, 33% of them say it increases their number of leads
The Two Parts of Social Selling: Outbound Prospecting and Inbound Marketing
Successful and effective social selling is both outbound prospecting and inbound marketing. Surely, both of these terms sound familiar to you. With social selling, here’s how the two techniques are used.
Outbound prospecting: The first half is identifying and learning as much as you can about your prospects and connecting with them directly. This is done to help you find candidates that will be the best fit for your products and services.
Inbound marketing: The second half is progressing to the relationship-building process. This requires you to share valuable content that will attract qualified prospects and make them come to you.
Social selling enables salespeople to target quality prospects, build rapport with them (and their networks), and close sales with their prospects using these two marketing techniques.
The Benefits of Social Selling
One great thing about social selling is that it provides a more effective sales process, which helps bring in more sales in return. Let’s look at some of the benefits of this sales method.
Social selling saves time and shortens the sales cycle
Shifting to social selling will encourage you to cut down or completely cut out cold calling. Statistics show that about 39% of B2B professionals said that social tools reduced the amount of time they spend on researching accounts and contacts.
Buyers engage in online communities and ask recommendations from industry peers. Being present on these online platforms lets you listen, monitor, and respond to such conversations.
If you are positioning yourself as an industry expert by consistently sharing valuable and useful content to your potential customers, the chances that your qualified prospects will do business with you are much higher.
Find new opportunities
Bringing your sales game on social allows you to find the decision-makers asking questions or recommendations in online groups. The opportunity to interact with a prospect won’t be available to you if you stick with traditional methods.
You can share a piece of content that answers their questions or directly help them with their problem via direct message. However you decide to help them with their confusion or inquiry, you’re offering a solution to their problem, establishing trust, and moving through a potential sale.
It lets your sales reps build real relationships
A good 31% of B2B professionals say that social selling tools enabled them to establish deeper relationships with clients.
Social selling is all about building rapport and making genuine interactions between you and your prospects. It involves sharing content or information that addresses your target prospects’ needs, wants, and pain points on your public social media profiles.
Stepping away from cold calling and other typical sales prospecting techniques allows you to earn the prospects’ trust without the pressure. Moreover, when your sales team optimizes their profiles and shares content online, it doubles as increasing your brand visibility since their networks also become increasingly aware of your business.
Increased number of leads
A survey shows that one in three B2B professionals said social selling tools helped increase the number of leads they had to work with. Businesses need leads, and social selling helps them attract and capture more leads compared to traditional prospecting.
Apart from boosting the number of quality leads, this modern way of doing sales is also an excellent way to drive sales results. After all, more clients and customers mean increased revenue for your business. With social selling, you can develop the path to a sale by providing assistance when your potential customers best need it.
Better customer retention
One of the primary goals of social selling is to build trust and, in the long run, maintain contact with your previous customers in a less intrusive and non-invasive manner. With a social selling strategy, you don’t need to call them for check-ins, updates, or promote a product they may be interested in.
Making yourself available and present on social media lets you do the job easily. For instance, you can put out valuable content where they can see it, and you can make yourself available whenever they have questions.
Also Read: Social Media Marketing: Brands' Big Win
The Best Channels for Social Selling
There are several social media channels out there. There’s Instagram for community-building, Reddit for forums and discussions, and LinkedIn for reaching business professionals. You need to determine where your audiences are to know which platforms to be in. Below are three useful social media channels for salespeople.
Facebook is the most popular social networking site, with roughly 2.6 billion monthly active users as of the first quarter of 2020. Business-wise, there are more than 80 million small- and medium-sized businesses using Facebook Pages and around 6 million utilizing the advertising platform, as per Facebook’s 2018 second-quarter earnings call.
Moreover, statistics show that the social media titan is the most important network for both B2C (68%) and B2B (48%) marketers because almost all types of quality content—from a good old text post to video—can ignite engagement on Facebook.
With Facebook, sales reps can share photos or videos in different formats. It’s an excellent platform for sharing a lot of links and articles, such as when promoting your latest blog post. It’s a more personal network for social selling.
Before social media, salespeople used their directory for cold calling. Today, they can find more data on social networks like LinkedIn than their opt-in method or a phone book. LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking platform, has over 690 million members and 50 million companies.
Sales professionals also put LinkedIn (70%) above Facebook (64%) in terms of where they’re most active, perhaps because it’s a social network for business professionals of different industries and titles; many company decision-makers are here, as well.
Individuals and businesses or brands can share company news, announcements, updates, and more through posts and articles on their LinkedIn profiles. The site supports video content, as well. If you’re going to share one, make sure to include on-screen captions so users can watch it even on mute when they’re in the office or out in public.
Unlike the social media channels mentioned so far, Twitter is unique since it sets a 280-character limit on each tweet. This means you have to make the most of your tweet—choosing your message wisely and making it straight to the point, but compelling enough to attract engagements.
Twitter has about 330 million monthly active users as of the first quarter of 2019. It’s the ideal network for promoting upcoming events, web content like blog posts, or getting feedback or questions from your audience. It’s also a good channel for social listening and monitoring public sentiment about your brand, products, and services.
You can utilize Twitter’s “Lists” feature to identify potential customers and reach out to them when it’s the right time. However, Twitter isn’t just a text-based platform; you can use GIFs, polls, and other forms of media, and be creative with it when engaging with your audience.
How to Start with Social Selling
Set a goal
To make your social selling strategy effective, you must identify your goals, monitor your progress over time, choose metrics that align with those goals. For example, you may aim for conversations started, the number of meetings booked, and deals closed. You can also make it your goal to offer value to your prospects and establish long-lasting relationships.
Identify the right social media channel
As mentioned above, it’s essential to determine where your target audience is most active when selecting the most relevant social media channels you can use for social selling. You can do this by deliberating on the social networks that match your target market and potential customers. Check out the social platform use below by demographic group:
If you’re selling products and services that appeal to B2B, B2C, or decision-maker consumers, then utilize LinkedIn and Twitter. Refer to the list above for the social media platforms that are ideal for social selling.
Create a professional social media profile
Require your sales team to create a professional social media profile that they can use for social selling (separate from their personal profiles) to build their reputation with prospects and pose as experts who can bring something new and valuable to their business. With this in mind, make sure that their social profiles attract potential customers, not recruiters.
- Upload a professional photo.
- Write a professional bio and include a link to your company’s website or Twitter account. Alternatively, you can also create a digital business card with social media links and add your Twitter handle to it and share the same across channels.
- Use hashtags that your target prospects follow.
- Share relevant content and provide insights.
- Upload a professional photo.
- Write a summary of what you do in the “About” section, ideally three paragraphs. Make sure to include your value proposition and some social proof on how you help clients move their business forward.
- Consistently share content that will provide value to your target prospects.
- Join groups or communities where your potential customers engage.
- In the experience section, enumerate how you helped customers improve their business.
- You can opt for a Facebook Business Page for your personal brand.
- Upload professional and casual photos.
- Indicate your job role and write your value proposition on the “About” section. You can include a link to your company’s website.
- Consistently share content that will provide value to your target prospects.
- Join groups or communities where your potential customers engage.
- Share insights on the latest industry trends and news.
Connect, interact and engage with the right people
Selling, in itself, is a personal task where your soft skills are on the driver seat. The more you interact and engage (even by liking, sharing, retweeting, and commenting), the better. Before you start building relationships, ensure that you connect with the right network. Here’s how you can get started:
- Follow and interact with thought leaders in your industry to position yourself as a credible and authority figure in your niche. This can also help you foster relationships with potential customers or prospects.
- Look up your prospects online and see which social networks they’re active on. Then, leave relevant and useful comments on their posts to start a relationship built on credibility and trust.
- Avoid going off as too sales-y or including sales information when you make your initial contact with prospects. Remember that social selling aims to build relationships first and close deals later.
Share content to establish your credibility
How do you answer your prospects’ most pressing questions and address their needs and pain points? Share relevant and engaging content. Do this consistently, and eventually, they’ll see that you’re the best person to go to when they find themselves in need of advice from an expert. This puts you closer to making a sale.
Check your social media engagement metrics from time to time to see which content pieces get the most engagement and the topics of their interest. To make your content curation easier, create a calendar and plan out what you’re going to share on your profiles.
You can take it up a notch and automate publishing to remain consistent with your content sharing. You can check out social media tools like Hootsuite, CoSchedule, Buffer, and Social Report.
Track and measure your social selling performance
Much like tracking, analyzing, and adjusting your marketing strategies, it’s crucial to track and measure your social selling progress to see what works, where you’re lacking, and what to improve. There are many metrics you can measure on social media, but since your focus is social selling, you must calculate metrics like:
- Reach (followers or fans, impressions, traffic data)
- Engagement (clicks, comments, shares, likes, profile visits)
- Leads (click-through rate, bounce rate)
You can use a social media analytics reporting tool or refer to a calculation cheat sheet like this to measure these metrics.
Advanced Social Selling Strategies and Expert Tips
Know that somewhere down the road, you’ll convert your social media connections into real-life connections. Once you’ve established a strong relationship with your prospect, offer to continue the back-and-forth conversation over a call or a cup of coffee.
This will make it easier to learn more about their challenges, giving you more insight into how you can offer solutions and land the sale.
Ask for referrals
Do you have a list of people, perhaps stakeholders, that you’d like to be introduced to or connect with? Check their LinkedIn profiles to have a quick look if you have any connections in common. If you see a mutual friend or an industry peer you’re in good terms with in their list, ask if they could introduce you to them.
Listen to customer complaints
Customer complaints, bad PR, and business mishaps can tarnish a brand’s image and reputation. Beyond promoting your business on social media, social selling also involves responding to and resolving customer complaints.
If you spot a comment from customers expressing their dismay with your company’s product or service, give your community management team a heads-up to address it immediately. Since salespeople represent a brand, they should also be skilled in crisis management for social media.
Share your success stories
You can say that your business is excellent at this or that, but without proof to back up those claims, they’re just empty declarations. To earn the trust of your prospects, show proof like success stories on your socials.
You can share links on your social media channels that point to the testimonials sections published on your site or share a photo of a customer with a summary of their success story and your brand logo.
Implement social listening
Social listening allows you to know what your prospects want or need, as well as monitor your current customers’ sentiments (both positive and negative) about your brand, products, and services. It’s an excellent way to demonstrate that you’re listening and an excellent opportunity to provide your expert insights.
You can use social listening tools to monitor conversations involving your brand, products, and services. You can set up social listening notifications, so when a prospect mentions a problem that you’ve assigned as a trigger, you can address it immediately.
Join relevant groups and forums
Apart from joining industry-known groups to keep you updated on trends, find out which Facebook or LinkedIn groups your potential customers are members of and join them, as well.
When a post comes up, and you happen to have something valuable to add to the discussion, do so. However, don’t hard-sell your products or services; otherwise, you can be kicked out of the group.
Social Selling Tools
Social selling isn’t easy. Thankfully, there are plenty of social media tools for businesses today that can help you streamline your social selling efforts.
This news aggregator tool helps you monitor your go-to blogs and websites so you can keep track of the subject matters and trends that you (and your prospects) care about. It builds a list of meaningful content ready to share on your social networks.
Find out what kind of content gets the most shares on social media using BuzzSumo. It’s a social media analytics and curation tool that allows you to discover new content ideas and industry experts.
You can specify keywords or websites, and its advanced search mechanism will identify the best performing content based on them. This tool makes it easier to find and share content that is most interesting to your audience.
Say goodbye to potato quality images and graphics. You can now create stunning designs for your content using Canva. This user-friendly graphic design tool offers a drag-and-drop feature that easily enables non-graphic artists to create social media graphics and other visual content.
If you want to produce professional layouts and engaging content that gets shared, check this out!
Hootsuite makes social selling a whole lot easier, from looking for prospects to serving your customers. This comprehensive tool allows you to plan, create, and schedule posts; engage with your network; track and improve your social ROI; and listen to what people are saying about your brand, competitors, and industry via keyword, hashtag, and location.
This professional networking platform offers a prospect hunting tool, which is arguably a must-have for B2B social selling professionals. It has advanced search filters that let you target the right prospects, as well as save and segment your LinkedIn leads to improve your overall sales process.
You can also quickly discover the right people with their customized suggestions. Sales Navigator also provides real-time updates on your potential and existing customers for better communication.
Nimble is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that features social media mining and helps you sort your customers and leads, as well as oversee your entire relationship with them, including your social media exchanges. It’s useful for building customer profiles and activities.
Wrapping it Up
Social selling is sales 2.0. Adapt it, embrace it, and watch your business grow. If you’re already using social media for marketing your business, take advantage of this powerful tool to optimize your sales and maximize its benefits.
Hopefully, this social selling guide can encourage you to join the conversation that’s already happening around your industry, brand, and offerings. Adding social selling to your sales strategies can help you find the right leads and connect with people who actually want to hear from you faster.