So what is social selling and what’s all the hype about?
This is a process which typically involves developing relationships as part of the sales process. Basically, it is all about gaining popularity in a variety of industries, though it is normally used for business to business (B2B) selling or highly considered consumer purchases. Apparently, social selling takes place via social networks such as facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
According to data published on hubspot “The State of Inbound 2014-2015: Sales Edition” they asked salespeople to weigh in on their top priorities for the coming year. The number one response wasn’t terribly surprising: Over 30% of those surveyed placed closing more deals on top of the to-do list, followed by improving the efficiency of the sales funnel, and reducing the length of the sales cycle. All good, practical goals.
But the opposite side of the chart, showing the priorities that fell to the bottom of the heap, was even more interesting. Notably, that social selling garnered the third lowest response despite the considerable buzz around the movement.
According to the report, “social sales is cited as a priority for just over 7% of respondents. This is inconsistent with Google Trends data, which shows ‘social selling’ as a term rising dramatically in popularity.” Is social sales more sizzle than steak , or has the practice simply not caught up with the buzz?
What remains clear is there is a missed opportunity here to capture critical contextual information that makes warm leads even warmer, particularly when you consider nearly 70% of sales professionals cite social media-sourced leads as the most important leads in the first two quarters of 2014.”
The different components of social selling
It involves the use of social media platforms to establish an individual’s reputation and credibility. This is normally done through creating compelling personal profiles which showcase a sales professional’s skills and competencies, integrity, and trustworthiness. Personal branding can also involve highlighting of personal information such as personal interest, education background, and religious affiliation to find common ground with potential clients and channel partners.
Social relationship management
This component typically involves using of digital networks as channels for nurturing current relationship with customers. Social relationship management is sometimes referred to as social CRM; which is an extension of the traditional relationship management that critically focuses on communication and feedback with client’s vis-à-vis social media. The tactics used include listening and responding to client’s feedback online and reposting user generated content concerning the organization. It emphasizes on authentic and genuine connections, and directly engaging with stakeholders in online conversation.
Employee advocacy is when sale expertise or other staff influences their own social presence to share positive news, insights, and stories about their organization with their networks. Basically, this usually includes sharing content, connecting with industry leaders, responding to questions, and using industry and organization- related hashtags. While some organizations give their employees the authority to create and promote their own content, others establish guidelines and even supply appropriate content to employees.
Key issues to consider when implementing a social selling strategy
Monitoring social media insights
For instance, if your organization is an established brand, it is important to monitor social media to get a clear view of what people think and say about you. In case you are a startup, you can pay attention to what they say about your key competitors. In fact, people who interact in your space should be your prospects, and you can use their posted comments to strengthen your organization’s selling strategy. For example, assume that most of the users are critical of competitor’s customer service policies. A part of your organization’s strategy could be stressing on your brand’s stellar customer service reputation with case studies and testimonials.
Indentifying the qualified prospects
Ensure that you create a profile of your target clients and use indicators such as interest, job title, demographics, employer, and shared connections to hit upon them on social media platforms. For example, if you use LinkedIn, you will find qualified prospects interacting in professional groups. On facebook, you will find them using facebook ads to target users, and on twitter, you will definitely find them debating a trending issue or sharing industry news.
Engaging prospects with thoughtful content and advice
After identifying your prospects, proceed to engage with them. It is highly recommendable to comment on and share their content; answer their questions, discuss industry trends, and share helpful content which is designed to move them through the process of decision making.
Responding to the organization’s social inboxes
One of the powerful core pieces of social selling is responding to prospects, and making it clear that your brand is relatable and reachable. Generally, it is important to regularly respond to facebook messages, LinkedIn emails, and twitter mentions.
Connecting with the existing clients
Basically, apart from generating new leads, social selling is a powerful way to nurture the existing customer relationships. You can get in touch with your top level customers on social media and interact with them. It is advisable to share and give comments on their content; ask questions, and offer targeted content based on their purchasing history.
The benefits of social selling
Social selling enables buyers to request information from various business platforms that offer the product or service which they are interested in. It also enables businesses to:
- Keep control of the number of leads a business may wish to receive within a certain specific period.
- Make a selection on the geographical area of interest
- Decide on the product or service to offer to its targeted consumers
- Determine prices as per the lead basis
- Pay for the leads received
Social selling allows the sales expertise to maintain contact with recent and past customers in a very non invasive way. Generally, customer’s loyalty is inspired when helpful content is shared with them and their burning questions well answered. Customers will be more loyal when they feel there is a connection with the brand and will be less willing to change to buy from other firms. Salespeople should therefore produce the right kind of content that keeps customers coming back for more.
The social network platforms such as Google+ and Facebook have built in analytics making it easy to track almost everything related to social media sales. In case a mistake is made, quick changes can be made and results displayed instantly.
Gives a sense of attachment
When sales expertise are connected with customers through social media platforms, it normally adds a layer of familiarity to each transaction carried out. The transactions are not a one way street. Generally, any sale made is an exchange between people; a relationship is established and the customer experience improves.
Level playing field
When it comes to social media, there is no specified size requirement. For instance, a one man organization can benefit in exactly the same way as multinational corporations. An organization only needs to have a well crafted and executed plan to achieve internet fame and increased revenues as a result.
Less investment of time
Basically, Sales and marketing is a full time task, and using a website or other technical medium needs the time of other line departments as well. With social selling, sales professionals can run campaigns themselves thereby reducing the demands on other departments.
Social selling is one of the cost effective way to connect with customers and build a solid marketing funnel.
It’s proven to work
This time last year you could potentially argue that social selling was still new and unproven, but not anymore. There are countless individual and team examples of how social selling is having direct impact on closing deals, finding opportunities, increasing velocity of deals closing and more.
It’s far more efficient than cold calling
We did an A/B test with a client last year – taking half of the sales team’s time to continue cold calling, and the other half of their time engaging in social selling activities. Bottom line, the social selling time generated 40% more qualified leads and opportunities. It’s just far more effective when you call someone new with context and value.
The leads are the same, but come at a fraction of the cost
In some cases, that means free. You can simply use tools such as Hootsuite to find buying signals from prospects you care about. You can also use paid tools such as Socedo to find and engage leads via social, with the cost of attracting the very same customers at a fraction of the cost of paid search and other digital campaigns.
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