It’s no secret that sales reps face a lot of challenges when it comes to generating leads, nurturing, and converting them to customers in these present times.
Gone are the days when sales reps relied solely on outbound sales – making cold calls and sending cold emails – to potential customers with the hope of getting them to buy their products or services.
Nowadays, with the busy schedules of prospects and customers, there’s a slim chance that they will answer your calls when you call them, and even when they do, they just might not be patient enough to hear what you have to say
So, what becomes the fate of an average sales rep?
According to a report by Statista, “more than half of the world’s population is now active on social media (Over 4.26 billion users in 2021)”. What this means for every salesperson is the opportunity to take their offline selling practices to social media to interact and build relationships with their prospects and existing customers.
Social selling is the use of social media platforms to get closer to prospects and customers, engage them, and encourage them to make a purchase decision faster.
Judging by the Forbes report, “78% of salespeople using social media for sales outsell their peers”, you would be doing yourself more harm than good if you have not integrated social selling into your sales process.
As a result, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of social selling, its significance to sales teams, and how you can achieve successful social selling.
Table of Contents
- What is social selling?
- What is the social selling index?
- Why is social selling important to sales teams?
- A day-to-day social selling routine for your sales team
- Proven tips for successful social selling.
- The art of social selling across different social media networks
- Four (4) Effective social selling tools.
What is social selling?
Social selling is the process of finding, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks.
It is leveraging social media to find the right prospects and building relationships with them to achieve sales and increase customer base.
Considering how important trust and relationship building is to sales in these present times, social selling is a great avenue for sales reps to build trust and relationships with their existing customers and prospects by answering their questions and sharing valuable content to warm them till they are ready to buy.
Although a report by SuperOffice revealed the majority (75%) of sales executives do not use social selling as part of the social strategy, Linkedin reports that sales reps who integrate social selling into their sales process,
Generate 45% more sales opportunities and are 51% more likely to hit quota
The implication of this for you as a salesperson is that you risk losing qualified leads that are available online looking for more information about your products or services when you don’t connect with them and provide them with all the pre-sales support on social media.
For better clarification, social selling is the modern-sales practice of using your social media presence and connection to;
- Identify sales-qualified leads
- Build and manage a strong relationship with them.
- Help you hit your sales targets.
What social selling is not
Social selling encompasses all acts and practices of finding, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers on social media.
While this means that you have to constantly be on guard to find, identify and start a conversation with qualified prospects that are more likely to buy from you based on their pain points, goals, etc., there is only a thin line between social selling and spamming your customers.
Social selling is a strategic process of reaching out to prospective customers on social media to build a relationship with them and nurture them till they are ready to make a purchase.
It is a planned, organized, and well-coordinated practice of gaining more customers, encouraging sales, and improving customer retention.
If you go about it the wrong way by bombarding every one of your social media contact with unsolicited tweets and DMs, you risk losing your potential customers forever.
So what doesn’t qualify as social selling?
- Social selling is not just about adding a huge list of contact to sell to rather, it involves studying the conversation of a particular group of people to see how well your products or services can help them solve their pain points or achieve their goals.
- Social selling is not about selling immediately to these groups of qualified prospects and customers rather, it involves interacting with them, sharing them thoughtful information about their goals or pain points, and building relationships with them till they are ready to buy.
- The result of social selling does not happen immediately, instead, it is a persistent process of winning your prospects over until they are ready to make a purchase.
What is the social selling index?
The social selling index (SSI) is a metric used to measure how effective a social selling strategy is at building your professional brand and social presence on LinkedIn.
To achieve this, sales professionals have to subscribe to a LinkedIn sales navigator premium to get access to a daily dashboard to give them insights into how their brand is performing on LinkedIn to measure their social selling success.
The social selling index dashboard shows you how are:
- Establishing a professional brand with a well-structured LinkedIn profile.
- Finding the right prospects on the platform.
- Sharing original, helpful, and relevant content
- Building and sustaining relationships
Why is social selling important to sales teams?
Social selling is one of the effective modern sales techniques that sales teams should integrate into their sales strategy to achieve more sales and increase organizational growth.
In this section, we will be identifying some of the primary benefits of social selling to sales professionals.
1. Reduced Calling time
The use of social media for your sales activities will reduce the need to make cold calls to your prospects and customers.
When you interact with your prospects on social media networks, you build a connection with them even before calling them on phone or making any outbound sales activities.
With social selling, you get to slowly familiarize yourself with your prospects and earn their trust without the pressures and burden that come with cold calling.
2. Social selling helps to save the time it takes to sell
One of the biggest benefits of social selling for sales teams is its role in the pre-sales process. For sales to happen, salespeople have to manage pre-sales research and support to encourage prospects to make purchase decisions faster.
Customers get motivated to buy from you when they find you helpful and useful in achieving their goals. Social selling makes pre-sales research, interaction, and support a lot easier.
With social media, sales reps can share valuable content with their prospects and customers and help them gain clarity by answering all their questions/ clearing their doubts.
3. Social selling gives you access to new opportunities.
With social media, sales opportunities are endless. Social selling allows you to reach out and discover more people that might need your products or services aside from those you are interacting with at the time.
Most times, there are people on social media who have some challenges they might not be aware of and do not know why they have to solve the problem.
By posting relevant content on social media groups or online forums about the benefits of your products, a newer set of people can become aware of their challenges and how your products or services can help them solve the problems.
4. Social selling improves customer retention.
If you have been keeping up with recent trends and practices in sales, you would understand the importance of building customer retention for increased revenue and organization growth.
Social selling helps sales reps constantly maintain communication and share helpful content with their customers even after sales have been achieved. The idea with customer retention is that every customer is valuable, whether before or after sales.
Social selling helps you keep your existing customers close to you to help them when you can for future sales purposes.
5. Social selling helps to build better relationships with customers and prospects.
Relationships are important to achieving sales. Its common practice in sales for salespeople to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with their prospects and customers for sales to happen.
Social selling allows sales executives to build a personal brand on social media that prospects and customers can relate to, to encourage sales.
Social selling techniques enable you to connect with your prospects and be helpful to them as much as you can to get them to convert faster.
A day-to-day social selling routine for your sales team
As explained earlier, social selling is a well-planned and strategic process of researching, connecting, and interacting with potential customers to make sales happen.
For social selling to be successful, it has to go through some due process or steps. Ben Martin, a social selling expert, identified a 12-step process that every sales team needs to follow to achieve a successful social selling routine.
- Find content to share
- Share the content on your social networks
- Find who viewed your LinkedIn profile
- Send a connection request to potential buyers who viewed your profile
- View the profile of those that liked or commented on your posts
- Send connection requests to them
- Review your LinkedIn alerts for things like job changes
- Categorize your most qualified leads into a dedicated list or folder
- Share weekly content with those qualified prospects to further strengthen the relationship
- Review alerts from other social platforms – Hootsuite, Google+,
- Follow up on outstanding direct messages on LinkedIn
- Start five or more new conversations with connections on LinkedIn.
Proven tips for successful social selling.
The following social selling tips are important for sales executives to consider to achieve successful social selling.
1. Optimize your social media profile.
This is the first step to starting social selling. Your social media profile has to be updated and optimized to contain all necessary information that can help promote your brand.
Your social media profile should be able to tell your prospects and customer about you (your job title and career summary) and make them want to have a business with you.
2. Join social media groups and forums
The next good thing you want to do for yourself is to find relevant social media groups or forums on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and join them to find your potential customers.
An easy way to do this is by finding your potential customers on LinkedIn and checking their social profiles to find out the groups and social forums they belong to. Once you find this, join the group to gain access to other customers in the group.
Consider sharing valuable information and content about the challenges people have in the group to get their attention.
3. Activate social listening alerts.
For successful social selling, you must keep track of what people, your customers, and your target audience are saying about your brand, and products or services.
Consider setting up alerts on Google Alerts or other social listening tools to get notified when anyone on social media or the internet mentions or searches for your products or services.
This way you can attend to every query, complaint, and review.
4. Share relevant content to build your credibility.
The next thing you want to ensure for successful social selling is by sharing original, and helpful information that can help your prospects notice you and what you do.
The best way to build your credibility and engage your customers on social networks is by sharing compelling content that can provide value to them.
This way they remember and choose to listen to what you have to tell them along the line.
5. Pay extra care to comment sections.
For successful social selling, you have to make comment sections your place of focus and attention. So much goes on comment sections – that’s where a lot of people share their opinion, reveal their frustrations or challenges, and even their goals.
Reading these comments will give you an idea of who your prospects are and the challenges they are facing to help you understand how you can promote your products or service offerings to them.
6. Share user-generated content.
The key to social engagement is by sharing interesting content that your customer’s prospects can relate to.
Your content must be able to stir up their emotions to influence genuine conversations. Consider sharing success stories and product testimonials to boost your credibility and get your prospects and existing customers to envision the same solution to work for them.
7. Offer support to customers on social platforms.
To encourage social sales and meaningful relationships on social platforms, social sellers must be willing and ready to offer support to every one of their customers – potential and current customers.
When customers request assistance with something related to your product or services, post an inquiry, or their displeasure about your business. Reach out to them to help them as best as you can to encourage customer retention.
8. Be consistent.
The secret to achieving your sales goals and closing deals via social selling is by being consistent with your social selling approach and routines.
Since social selling can take a little bit more time for customers and prospects to make their purchase decisions, you have to be consistent and very intentional about building meaningful connections.
9. Subscribe to blogs.
If you are keen on discovering your prospects and customers’ interests, goals, and pain points. You might want to check out some of the blog posts that they read and share with their connections on social media.
Subscribe to these blogs to guide your content-sharing strategy.
10. Know when to move your conversations offline.
The key to attaining success with social selling is by understanding when you think it’s time to move your social connections offline to continue the buying process.
You need to create a list of positive pointers that will help you determine when it’s time to move the conversation with your business leads offline to seal the deal.
11. Extra Tip: Subscribe to LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
If you want to simplify social selling steps and strategies, consider subscribing to LinkedIn Sales Navigator to help you gain access to a robust dashboard and insights on your social selling activities and performance.
The premium service price starts at $79.99 per month with a discount for annual subscribers.
The art of social selling across different social media networks
Social selling is the creation of one on one relationships with potential customers and existing ones on social platforms preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.
In this section, we will be sharing how social selling works on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Social selling on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the number one platform for B2B social selling. It is one of the most trusted platforms by top executives to build a professional network.
By using LinkedIn for your social selling activities, you make new connections with top business professionals, c-suite executives, and other important personalities.
To excel on LinkedIn, consider the following steps and best practices.
Tips for Optimizing your profile on LinkedIn.
The following are seven tips to ensure your LinkedIn profile is optimized for social selling:
1. Update profile picture.
LinkedIn is a professional platform for professional and top-level executives.
If you want to have a chance at succeeding on this platform, your profile picture must of the best resolution and portray you as a professional. You don’t want your customers and prospects to have the wrong impression about you.
2. Make your headline captivating.
To achieve successful social selling on LinkedIn, your headline must be well-crafted to define your value proposition and career goal.
Avoid using your job title as your headline. Be deliberate about this and craft it in a way people will want to connect with you.
3. Follow the 3×3 career summary approach.
Your LinkedIn career summary should follow the 3×3 approach – three paragraphs max with three sentences each.
Restate your value proposition in the first paragraph, include social proof of how you’ve achieved the goals or helped your clients in the second, and include a compelling call to action in the third paragraph.
4. Consider helpful visual content.
Next, you want to ensure that you post helpful and insightful visual content that can offer value to your connections.
5. Emphasize your role in customer growth.
When adding your career experiences, ensure to emphasize how you were instrumental in helping your clients or business grow.
6. Ask for recommendations.
As emphasized earlier in this guide, building credibility is important to gaining your prospects and customer trust.
Consider asking your current customers to write you a recommendation majorly highlighting how you have helped them solve their problems or achieve their goals to boost your credibility.
7. Join groups.
The final important step is to join LinkedIn groups where your customers are to find out more information about themselves – their challenges, interests, and goals.
Consider joining the group to share valuable information on how you can solve those challenges.
Three steps to social selling on Linkedin
Consider following these three (3) key steps to social selling on LinkedIn:
Step 1: Discover Connections.
This first step is finding the right prospects on LinkedIn to connect with. Search for people with a particular job title, skills, and companies within your buyer persona to discover people who might need your products or services.
Once you find them, send them a connection request to take it one step closer.
Step 2: Consider thought leadership.
The next step is to make yourself a thought leader on LinkedIn by sharing valuable information on interesting topics or subjects and consistently sharing your thoughts or professional opinion on trending matters.
Doing this will position you as a knowledgeable person that your prospects would be happy to connect with.
Step 3: Extend your LinkedIn network.
Don’t be too focused on gaining new customers that you forget your existing customers, valuable connections, and existing networks.
You never can tell where your next customer is coming from, hence, be sure to connect and interact with your existing networks to leverage them for better opportunities.
Social selling on Twitter.
Twitter is a popular microblogging and social network service that can be a useful weapon in B2B social selling.
While it is not as powerful as LinkedIn, you can still leverage some of its important features to your advantage. For example, the Twitter lists feature allows you to track content from specific accounts or groups of people.
To excel on Twitter, consider the following steps and best practices.
Tips for Optimizing your profile on Twitter.
The following are five tips to ensure your LinkedIn profile is optimized for social selling:
1. Use a professional profile picture.
Ensure that your Twitter page has your professional picture as your display picture to position yourself correctly on Twitter.
2. Write a well-crafted bio.
Ensure that your bio contains some positioning statement to tell your potential customer who you are and how they can benefit from you.
3. Add a link to your company’s Twitter account.
Be sure to add a link to your company’s Twitter account on your profile e.g. Sales Manager @Sloovi.
4. Add a link to your LinkedIn account.
Ensure that you also include a link to your LinkedIn account to enable your prospects to get all the information they can about you.
5. Include relevant hashtags to your profile.
Finally, you want to ensure that your profile contains some relevant keywords that your prospects follow.
Three steps to social selling on Twitter
Consider following these three (3) key steps to social selling on Twitter:
Step 1: Find the right prospects.
The first step to adopting social selling on Twitter is searching for your prospects – people with interest and needs for your products or services to search for their Twitter accounts and add them to a private list.
Monitor the types of content shared by people on the list and contribute where necessary.
Step 2: Network with existing customers.
The next thing you want to do is find and connect with your existing customers to build relationships with them and encourage them to tweet about your service to them to help other consumers see this.
Step 3: Consistently monitor your competitors.
The final step is to keep track of your competitors, their social selling strategy, and how they relate with their customers and prospects to guide you on what to do.
Four (4) Effective social selling tools.
There are many tools on the market to help you connect and engage in social selling the right way. In this section, we have listed four key tools to use for social selling.
1. Sales prospecting tools.
Sales prospecting refers to the process of separating quality leads from unqualified leads. This social selling tool is very important to help you identify and connect with qualified leads. Consider Yesware’s LinkedIn Integration to connect/message/research leads right from your inbox.
2. Social Listening tools.
Social listening tools notify you when someone mentions you on social media. This social selling tool provides you with valuable insights on when and how you can tailor your selling strategy. Consider Awario to help you find and join important conversations about your field in real-time.
3. Content sharing tools.
Since content sharing is very important for social selling. Consider using tools like HootSuite to help you manage your content sharing schedule across various social media platforms.
Sales CRM tools help you compile and manage your list of qualified contacts and connections to help you automate and monitor your activities. Consider Sloovi Outreach to help you eliminate the manual data entry and sync all activity to your CRM.
Social selling is key to modern-day sales making and relationship building. It replaces the traditional methods of cold calling and cold emailing.
The world of social selling will continue to evolve and so should your selling strategy. You have gotten this far, and we want to believe that you now have an in-depth understanding of social selling and how you can use it across various social media platforms to boost sales. Also, check out the sales related guides, sales productivity, sales funnel template and sales analysis report.
Take note of all the important steps and processes and follow them to develop a powerful social selling strategy for your sales efforts.