Social selling – What is it and why should you care?
It is commonly confused with social media marketing, but social selling is in fact the art of using social media to find, connect with, understand, and nurture sales prospects (Hootsuite).
Instead of posting promotional posts and using paid ads to engage target audiences, social selling involves making connections, engaging with their posts and gaining awareness of their interests and the challenges they face.
Research shows 78% of salespeople engaged in social selling are outselling their peers who aren’t (Optin Monster). This means that any business looking to grow their sales; cannot ignore its potential.
So, what’s in it for you? Below are just a few of the benefits of using social selling to engage your prospects.
It lets your sales team build real relationships
Nobody likes cold calling (either doing it or receiving it!); as it’s intrusive and the statistics show it’s ineffective. Using tools to perform social listening on topics relevant to your industry allows your sales team to identify new leads that are already talking about your business, competitors, or your industry, so you can reach out to them in an appropriate way.
In a recent survey by CSO Insights and Seismic, one in three B2B professionals said that social selling tools increased the number of leads. What’s more, social tools help automate the process and reduce manual research of individuals; giving a richer picture of each prospect
Prospects are using channels such as LinkedIn to share information about their professional needs, wants, and pain points and this enables outreach to be personalised and helpful from the outset.
Developing a network of contacts that will inform your strategy and find content engaging is mutually beneficial and, from a sales perspective, enables you to seek out introductions to new sales prospects through existing mutual connections. This quickly establishes trust which is important, as 87% of B2B buyers say they would have a favourable impression of someone introduced through their professional network (LinkedIn SlideShare).
Your prospects are already engaged in social buying
Sales professionals can use social listening and other social research strategies to find prospects, but those contacts are already engaging with social media to find potential vendors, perform independent research, and make an informed decision, all before contacting a sales professional.
According to LinkedIn, 76% of buyers are ready to have a social media conversation with potential providers, and more than 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who connect with them to share insights and opportunities relevant to their business. Even better, 92% of B2B buyers are willing to engage with a sales professional who is a known industry thought leader. You can build this reputation by regularly posting thoughtful, relevant content on social media that you know will resonate with your audience.
Your competitors are already using social selling
Many good sales professionals are already using social selling tools, so if you aren’t it means you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage (LinkedIn Business).
What’s more, brands across multiple industries are now beginning to implement social selling tools, including technology and travel.
Microsoft is one such organisation that has seen the power of social selling. Their social selling pilot program started out with 15 people selling Microsoft Azure using their LinkedIn accounts to find their own customers. This boosted productivity by 38% and the program scaled to 3,000+ sellers as more employees witnessed the success of using LinkedIn and Sales Navigator to prospect leads (LinkedIn Business).
That said, any size of business can harness social selling to outperform their competitors; creating opportunities by building reach and advocacy amongst their networks.
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