The concept of exchanging goods and services has always revolved around social activities. Before the internet catapulted us into an age of hyper-connectedness, people relied on asking people in their social circle for advice and recommendations.
Nowadays, social interactions increasingly take place online. Social media is a prime vehicle that modern consumers are using to independently research and purchase products and services. It’s no surprise then, that 74% of B2B buyers report conducting the majority of their research online before committing to a purchase or contacting a salesperson.
Businesses must adapt their sales strategies to the online spaces where the decision-making happens—that’s where social selling comes in.
Social Selling Definition
Social selling refers to the process of using social media to find, attract, and nurture the right prospects.
It’s about leveraging your business presence on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram to develop meaningful relationships with potential customers. Ultimately, it’s a sales strategy that’s used to help businesses achieve their goals through social interactions that lead to meaningful relationships.
How does it work?
In the past, the sales model revolved around using cold calling techniques to deliver sales demos and qualify leads. The B2B sales approach has shifted. Today, it’s about educating and engaging customers through the platforms they spend their time interacting with—social networks.
The prevalence of social media attests to the reason why social selling is imperative in today’s competitive business landscape. With 91% of B2B buyers present and active on social media, social selling yields a huge amount of possibility.
In essence, the concept of social selling is similar to inbound marketing strategies. The goal of social selling is to improve sales by:
- Building trusting relationships with customers
- Defining your reputation in the industry and establishing credibility
- Increasing visibility among your target audience
- Providing your audience with value
Sharing valuable content is an important way for salespeople to connect and engage with prospects. Demonstrating knowledge of your industry and establishing your brand as a trustworthy source leads to increased engagement, better relationships, and —ultimately— more sales.
What are the main benefits of social selling?
The primary benefits of social selling include:
- Increase the number of leads your business can reach
- Reduce contact time
- Allow you to build better relationships with clients
- Improve lead conversion rate and increase revenue
- Shorten sales cycles
Why is Social Selling Important For Your Business?
Below are three reasons why implementing social selling strategies is important for any modern business.
1. It helps your team build real, long-lasting relationships
The days of cold calling are long gone. Cold calls are annoying for the people receiving them and the people making them. In fact, 63% of sales representatives report that making cold calls is the worst part of their job! It makes much more sense to leverage your customers’ presence where they want to spend their time, i.e. on social media!
With social selling, interactions with salespeople mirror those with friends or would-be friends. When salespeople approach conversations with prospects on social media with empathy and honesty, prospects are much more likely to respond positively and want to continue their relationship with your business—rather than hanging up the phone!
People socially share an incredible amount of information about their wants, needs, and pain points online. Social selling requires salespeople to practice social listening to discover exactly how they can add value to prospects’ lives. By doing this, 39% of B2B professionals agreed social tools reduce the amount of time they spend researching their contacts.
Armed with this information, salespeople can approach customers in a way that’s personalized and relevant rather than cold and intrusive. LinkedIn research found that salespeople who built trusted relationships with prospects had 45% more sales opportunities, and were 51% more likely to hit their sales quotas.
2. Meet social buying with social selling
Your audience is already social buying. In the same way that businesses use social selling to find, attract, and nurture clients; consumers are using it to find and research potential vendors before making a purchase decision.
Research by IDC found that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of executives report using contact and information gleaned from social networks as part of their purchase process. If you’re not engaged in social selling, you’re simply not showing up in potential clients’ social research!
46% of B2B buyers and decision-makers are aged between 18 and 34 years old. Coincidentally, this corresponds with the largest social media demographic. The role of social buying and selling will continue to grow as business leaders look to industry thought leaders and social listening to research and engage with brands beyond an initial purchase.
3. Your competitors are doing it already
If there’s one reason to start social selling, it’s to keep up with your competitors. Did you know that 71% of sales professionals are already using social selling as a way to generate new leads? Among millennial sales professionals, this number is even higher (78%).
To stay relevant and keep up with rapidly shifting consumer and technology trends, business leaders must leverage the power of social media to facilitate better customer relationships that align with modern audiences. If not, you’re likely to fall behind.
How Can Social Selling Help You Find New Customers?
Even if your business offers the best product or service, you can’t guarantee that people will buy it just like that.
Nowadays, consumers and clients expect more from the brands they engage with and purchase from. Sales success is increasingly dependent on how brands approach and connect with their customers. To do this, salespeople must first thoroughly research their target audience.
Before social networks, salespeople relied on trawling a company’s website, wading through annual reports, and checking presence on trade websites to discover essential information about prospects. Social media has made it much easier to gain insight into who prospects are, what they’re looking for, and their pain points. Armed with this information, they can appropriately tailor their sales approach to suit individual prospects.
Sales reps can use social selling to dig deeper into what prospects want and need. By joining social conversations on social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, salespeople can monitor what’s being said about their product or service as well as what they’re expressing interest in. With little effort, they can discover:
- Who the stakeholders and decision-makers are within an organization
- Common contacts
- What their customers want, and how your product or service can service their needs
Once the target audience is defined, salespeople can begin to connect with the right prospects in the online social spaces they are more active in.
Get Started with Social Selling
Fundamentally, it’s all about making connections and offering valuable content.
By sharing high-quality content, businesses can tell their story and engage with customers on an emotional level. Research by LinkedIn found that 92% of B2B buyers engage with sales professionals if they’re regarded as industry thought leaders.
Positioning yourself as a thought leader by demonstrating advanced knowledge through thoroughly researched and well-curated content (in various forms) allows you to establish your brand as a trustworthy source. If your marketing department already has a great content marketing strategy in place, you can share that content with lead prospects to increase the opportunity for sales.
When it comes to social selling, you’ll need to:
- Identify your target audience and the decision-makers you’re selling to
- Do your research and find out which social platforms they’re most active on (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc)
- Curate unique, valuable content and share it on social platforms and share content from other industry thought leaders to affirm credibility.
- Engage your audience. Don’t just stop at sharing content. Keep the conversation going by interacting with prospects to keep your service on their mind, so you’re the one they turn to when they decide to make a purchase decision.
Doesn’t sound too difficult, right?
Sales is about building relationships and establishing credibility. This isn’t a revolutionary concept. Social selling is simply a means of adapting to the needs of modern consumers to expand sales networks and engage with prospects who really want to hear from you. This way, salespeople can leverage social tools to provide prospects with the best solution at the right time.
When done right, social selling can help sales teams to find valuable leads, build brand reputation, create long-lasting customer relationships, and boost revenue. If you’re not already reaching your B2B audience with social selling, now is the right time to get started!
Are you ready to incorporate social selling into your sales strategy?
First, you’ll need to know who your audience is.
Download our buyer persona template today and discover your business prospects.