Have you heard about social selling?
The internet has brought many marketing strategies into play that businesses need to keep up with to stay in the game. Before social media turns out to be the in thing and everyone has access to it, businesses connect and build a relationship that would be useful to the business through cold calling. This process was as cringe-worthy as it was hectic since some people do not like unsolicited calls or visits.
However, the growth and use of social media have played an easier way to connect with prospects without cringe-worthy moments. No serious brand or business today runs without social media, as that is how they get to advertise and sell their brand to as many people as possible. Almost every company in existence has Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts run by abled social media managers who ensure that the company’s agendas are well communicated, and the brand is kept alive. The availability of these social media handles is what brought on the concept of social selling.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is the modern-day relationship-building that was done by cold calling. Unlike cold calling, however, social selling is not about bombarding strangers with unwelcome messages. Instead, social selling uses a brand’s social media channels to connect with potential customers to develop a connection with them and engage with potential leads to close deals to reach sales targets.
A prospective consumer is likely to reach out to a brand they have been actively corresponding with on social media when the time to make a purchase comes.
Social selling is about adding new contacts to your business brand and making meaningful interactions that sell the brand as a problem solver to the unique problem the prospect has. It is in this way that trust and loyalty are built between a brand and its customers.
Who can Engage in It?
Any business brand with an active social media platform such as a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, an Instagram page, a LinkedIn page, or is active on any other social media platform can engage in social selling. The aim is to be part of a platform where most prospective clients are and engage them.
For social selling to be a success, a business brand must choose a platform depending on its target audience and social selling approach. For example, if the aim is to actively interact with clients by answering their queries and having natural flowing conversations, Twitter and Instagram offer this.
On the other hand, LinkedIn, a formal business platform, is ideal for Business-to-Business companies looking to spot and influence business decision-makers. In short, a business brand should choose a platform that is preferred by its audience and can be consistently used.
Among other reasons, businesses should make social selling part of their marketing strategy because;
- Social selling has created more sales opportunities, and businesses that prioritize social selling are more likely to reach their sale quotas than those that don’t.
- Social selling helps the business build genuine relationships as it creates opportunities to connect with potential clients, engage them by offering helpful information, and authentically connect with them. Authenticity builds trust and, ultimately, customer loyalty.
- Most potential clients and prospects are already on social media, and it is easier to reach them.
- It gives a business a fair chance of competing with other similar businesses since most businesses are social selling.
Social Selling Best Practices
Whichever platform a brand decides to use to reach their targeted audience regarding social selling, it is not just about having a profile. When done correctly, social selling can help shorten sale cycles, nurture leads and boost close rates. This is possible because social selling helps sales representatives understand why people make certain purchases and meet these expectations when clients are at the most receptive. Brands can make the most out of social selling by making use of the following techniques.
1. Creating relationships, not sales
When engaging with prospective clients, they must be made to feel important. Nobody likes to feel used and engaging prospects like the sole purpose for the interaction is to close a deal may push them away. Therefore, a seller should first create a relationship with a prospect before making a sale by being genuine and offering solutions to their problems when in need. This especially is a good technique because being a field with many players, and customers will only seek those that are warm towards them.
2. Serving before selling
Before a prospective client can trust a brand, the brand should be able to offer value. By accepting to engage a seller, the prospect is probably looking for something that stands out in that particular brand. A seller can gain the upper hand by providing valuable information that may solve problems or offer solutions. Focusing on how I may help rather than what I can sell may put a seller at a higher chance of closing a deal.
3. Giving more
To be successful in social selling, a seller needs to give more information on the platform willingly. The information shared should be value-driven and designed to attract the target audience of the particular brand. By engaging with people through sharing helpful content and leaving helpful comments, a brand puts itself out there, and meaningful conversations can start in the comment section.
4. Taking time to build a foundation
Having a solid foundation on the media platform of choice is critical in making social selling by a brand much more effortless. A well-thought-out profile or bio should have relevant information to look professional to potential clients. A professional profile will attract the right clients.
Before engaging a prospective client, one should carry out thorough research to understand the client’s needs. Thus, conversations should solve their problems and offer solutions to things they didn’t know needed solutions. The knowledge of a prospective client also puts a seller on the upper hand as it shows that they know exactly what they are dealing with.
6. Interacting regularly
Regular interaction with prospects keeps the connection alive. For the interactions to be effective, they should be natural and consistent. Consistent communication ensures the building of trust. To avoid monotony and bland interactions, a seller can maintain conversations by engaging the prospective client on topics they have in common or provide information relevant to the brand. Success stories and advice can also be part of these interactions. To ensure that one does not miss out on interactions due to a busy schedule, they can use Socialays.
7. Continue conversations on other platforms
Different platforms provide different feels to an ongoing conversation, and switching up the platforms to keep conversations going can be a technique used to break the monotony. The business air in a LinkedIn platform can be switched to a more playful tone in Instagram or Twitter. Bonds created are stronger when serious conversations can be done on a lighter note, thus increasing the chances of completing a deal with that particular prospect.
8. Keeping in touch with existing clients
While winning new clients is the main aim of social selling, retaining existing ones should also be on top of the list since it is more expensive to win a new client than retain an existing one. Therefore, while expanding the network and bagging in new prospects, one should also keep the interactions alive with those clients who have already closed deals. The possibility of making subsequent purchases is higher that way.
9. Keeping profiles up to date
It is vital to make sure that the brand’s profile is relevant and up to date so that prospective client who visits the profile is fed with the relevant information that would make them want to start or continue a relationship with the brand. Like one-on-one conversations, the profile should be straight to the point and offer value to the prospects.
10. Staying in tune with what works
Social media is constantly evolving and morphing, and one needs to be changing with it to survive the changes. To become a great social seller means that you cannot be complacent or stubborn about doing things the way you like.
11. Tracking results and making adjustments
Learning from one’s mistake or changing already tried techniques that do not work can fine-tune sellers into improving their craft. Therefore, keeping track of methods used by collecting insights can save time and maximize the return on investment.
12. Exercising patience
There are no shortcuts in creating valuable relationships with prospective clients. Exercising patience is critical in ensuring major closed deals since building trust and confidence does not happen overnight. Consistency and patience will yield great results and long-lasting relationships between clients and business brands.
These techniques can help brands across industries to garner the influence and power of social selling. As long as they maintain a personalized outlook, are persistent, patient, and carry on with a positive attitude looking to provide prospects with solutions, social selling will always give the desired results, higher sales.
Steps to Social Selling on Linkedin
LinkedIn is a formal business platform. Businesses connect directly with potential clients to attempt to build professional relationships. In that case, therefore, to successfully social sell on LinkedIn, a brand should:
1. Build credibility: The credibility of a business can be built through endorsements and recommendations from already existing connections that have a good relationship with it. The endorsements and recommendations are usually posted on the LinkedIn profile and help provide instantaneous trustworthiness with new contacts.
2. Extend the LinkedIn network: Using LinkedIn’s search feature, one can extend their network by searching for mutual connections with their existing contacts, which provides them with more potential prospects to reach out to Joining LinkedIn groups that are related to the industry helps one network with others in the industry and learn from them as well as reach potential clients who are either searching for answers to specific questions or looking for product recommendations.
3. Regularly share relevant content: Sharing content is a great way to increase a business’s reach. On LinkedIn, however, sharing content is essential for nurturing’s sake since it may provide the perfect information for followers unsure about what is offered by the business.
4. Like and comment on relevant content: The action of liking and commenting on posts highlights one’s presence to new prospects and gives a business’s content a boost. In addition, being active on the platform ensures that prospective clients easily reach you.
5. Use the LinkedIn Sales Navigator: The Sales Navigator is a social selling tool that can help one to target the right potential clients using personalized communications. It also helps business seller better understand their performance with deep analytics.
The Pillars of Social Selling on LinkedIn
Social selling is a sales procedure that enables better sales. It is about leveraging a brand’s social network to find the right prospects and building relationships that lead to achieving its sales goals. To build and maintain relationships, a brand should create an environment that builds a client’s trust. When using the LinkedIn platform, a brand can achieve this by:
1. Creating a professional brand: With so many players in the market, clients today have become selective and would only work with brands they trust. Having a solid professional portfolio makes a brand stand out as being an active player in its field. This leads to more prospect inquiries and more responses to communications made by the brand.
2. Focusing on the right prospects: Not everyone on the social media platform is active as a potential client. However, social media platforms have made it very easy to find the right prospects using the information on their profiles. Therefore, a brand can easily approach a prospective client who fits their criteria, saving time and guesswork.
3. Engaging with insights: Once a brand gets the attention of a prospect, it must place themselves as a subject matter expert by only sharing information and content relevant to the industry. Therefore, a salesperson engaged in social selling should stay up-to-date with prospect news and identify new industry contacts.
4. Building trusted relationships: Trust with prospective clients can be built by sharing a brand’s perspective on different opinions and helping them with relevant information they may need. Having genuine conversations and focusing on the prospect’s needs helps build a strong connection. In addition, by showing that their interests come first, prospective clients are more likely to close deals. This is different from interactions, where making a profit is the primary goal of the interaction.
Steps to Social Selling on Twitter
Twitter is a social media platform recognized for its social listening. To thrive in social selling on this platform, here are steps to follow.
1. Monitor the brand’s mentions: Whether a company or a business, one should look at what people are saying about it. The mentions are usually unfiltered feedback from connections or potential clients looking for direction.
2. Listen for and respond to sales opportunities: One can spot sales opportunities by capitalizing on the mentions of their brands and listening to conversations that reveal prospects and leads. Listen for specific keywords or mentions relevant to the company to uncover opportunities. Competitor mentions can also guide one to these opportunities. For instance, Twitter usually pits multiple companies against each other when looking for recommendations.
3. Personalize pitches: When publishing content or responding to a prospect’s question, one should ensure they address the prospect’s particular problems and concerns. Responding with a friendly voice piques the prospect’s interest as it shows the responder is not in any way a robot or that the responses are not automated.
4. Respond quickly: Quick and swift responses will ensure that prospects lose interest or lose a prospect to a competitor. Most consumers on Twitter expect a response within an hour from business brands in terms of customer service.
5. Move conversations beyond Twitter: Building a worthy interaction may require that the conversation moves to the Twitter DM or into mails so that information can be shared quickly. Going beyond Twitter helps to build trust and strengthen the relationship with the prospective client.
6. Maintain an active presence: One of the most crucial aspects of social selling on Twitter is looking the part. Having a professional and personalized bio puts one out as a serious individual, thus encouraging prospective clients to engage.
Adoption of Social Selling by a Business
Social selling is not as straightforward as other sale strategies such as cold-pitching and outbound prospecting. While the path from pitching to sales is direct, social media is a hub. A single department cannot single-handedly tackle social selling. Instead, social selling requires inter-department collaboration, primarily the marketing and technology teams together. This ensures that the sales team has the proper infrastructure in place to find and track content.
For social selling to be successful, there are tools and processes required to get it running. Therefore, a business about to get into social selling requires organizational changes happening at the management levels. The team charged with social selling needs a comprehensive support system that will enable them to discover great content. Moreover, it can also help them easily share content, follow up on conversations, and measure social media activity results.
The Importance of Social Selling to businesses
Social selling ultimately affects a business as a whole. However, the main impact is usually on sales. Some benefits a business gets from social selling:
a) Increased brand visibility: When more people within a business share the business’s content and optimize their profiles by keying in information relevant to the business, they engage their networks, thus giving the business more online presence. The increased online presence, in turn, increases the brand’s visibility with the increased clicks from every profile view.
b) Leads to more and higher quality prospects: Increased brand visibility also leads to better prospects. When armed with an efficient social selling team that shares relevant content, the business’s social network is educated and the employees’ social connection. It is well known that people trust recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues over any other form of marketing.
c) Boosts web traffic: Increased brand visibility will lead to more people clicking or searching for the business websites. Increased web traffic increases the potential for a business.
d) Boosts sales: Social selling done right will ensure that deals are closed and sales of a business boosted. The relationships formed during social selling build a business’s clientele, thus bringing more revenue to the business.
Companies naturally gain the most from having a lot of their employees in social selling. However, employees also greatly benefit from being active social sellers. By being a social seller, an individual can:
- Build their brand
- Become thought leaders
- Improve their future career opportunities and
- Contribute to the business’s success.
Social selling as a marketing strategy came with the overwhelming use of social media. It is, therefore, a never-ending experiment as the platforms evolve to become better and more efficient. Engaging in social selling requires an interest in learning and growing the knowledge one already has. It also involves checking on what works for an individual brand and capitalizing on it.
Since target audiences differ from one brand to another, copy-pasting another brand’s strategy may be detrimental to the overall performance. Thus, great effort should be put into discovering the unique things that capture a brand’s audience. A proper social selling strategy results in higher closed deals and better long-term client relationships. In the end, the hey purpose of social selling is to make every digital interaction count.