What is Social Selling?
Social Selling is the concept of utilizing social media as a medium to make your sales team more effective. Communication channels have always changed the way organizations sell. Mail led to the demise of the carnival pitchman and catalogs were born. The phone gave rise to call centers and door-to-door sales dramatically decreased. Today we are witnessing a new revolution in communication with the social web. This is great news for sales teams because their customers are leaving tons hints about their interests and needs on social networks. Society is also becoming accustomed to engaging with strangers or acquaintances on social media. This opens the door for sales teams and business development professionals in a way never seen before!
Why is Social Selling important?
Today, salespeople are at a significant disadvantage when compared to ten years ago. This is because the Internet has made information much more widely available and easy to find. As a buyer, you can find most of the information you need to make a decision without a sales rep’s involvement. This makes it extremely important for your sales rep to be part of the conversation as early as possible.
Your potential customers are constantly posting hints that they are ready for your product or service. Did they just join a certain LinkedIn group? Tweet with a hashtag from a related conference or event? Maybe they ReTweeted an influencer or engaged with your competitors blog post? All of these actions are indicators that a buyer is in your buying cycle before they even know about your brand or product. Use this as an opportunity to build a relationship with that lead and provide them with help early in the buying process as a thought leader rather than a salesman. This will ensure you win more deals in the long run and will help your sales team reverse the information disadvantage that they find themselves in today.
What’s the difference between Social Selling and Social Media Marketing?
Social Media Marketing leverages social networks to create general awareness and broadcast the brand’s message. Social Selling leverages social networks to build personal relationships with specific individuals that are likely to convert. Depending on the size of the organization, the marketing team normally handles the branded presence on social media sites while sales/business development leverages individual accounts to create personal relationships.
How is Social Selling different from traditional selling?
The mantra in traditional selling is “Always Be Closing.” In Social Selling, this mantra changes to “Always Be Connecting.” It can be tough to close deals on social networks alone. That said, social media provides the unique advantage to warm relationships before getting on the phone or setting a meeting. Social Selling is also more efficient since interactions are short bursts or actions. Your goal on social media should be to ‘connect’ with as many leads as possible. Get them to reply, ReTweet or follow you. It becomes much easier to get leads on the phone and close deals after you’ve built a low-touch connection on a social network.
Should our company have a Social Selling strategy?
Almost all companies can drive value from a social selling strategy. Social Selling is a good fit anytime your business wants to proactively reach out to high value stakeholders in a low cost and efficient manner. Social Selling is a particularly good fit for B2B companies that already have a sales team. That said, consumer companies can also take advantage of social selling as they try to build brand advocates in the right communities. Of course, Social Selling works best when your target persona tends to be active on social networks.
What are the biggest barriers to Social Selling?
The biggest hump in pursuing a Social Selling strategy is starting the first few interactions. Everything is a little more public on social media and many people allow this to paralyze their efforts. Don’t wait until you have crafted the perfect Tweet before you send it. The Internet is actually a pretty forgiving place if you make a mistake and are authentic about it. Start by just saying hi or thank you and see what people say back. It’s a lot like arriving at a networking party. Starting a conversation with that first stranger can be tough but it’s all downhill from there.
How should I get started with Social Selling?
Start by dedicating and half-hour each day to social selling. Use this time to connect with a few people regularly. Identify 10 people who would be good customers for you and try to engage them. Follow these people or share/ReTweet their message. As you become comfortable with these low touch engagements go deeper and start to send replies and questions. The next step is to participate in groups or blog threads. Take it one step at a time and leverage tools to make the process easier. Tools like Socedo can help to identify the leads that are most relevant to your business.
How will Social Selling evolve over the next few years?
Social networking, as a concept, has been around for thousands of years. Humans are social creatures and that is not going away. The Internet has supercharged the ability to fulfill our innate desire to be social. Betting on Social Selling is a bet on the Internet. Your customers are already active on social networks and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Investing in a social selling strategy will give you a competitive advantage today and will ensure you’ve adopted the right skills for the long run. Mobile devices are allowing us to be on social networks 24/7. Sending a Tweet to a prospect is like texting directly into their pockets. As younger generations move up the career ladder you will find digital natives as the ultimate decision makers. Do you have a sales strategy that caters to them?