Participating in social selling and engaging in it strategically are two very different things. Successful social sellers recognise the value of selecting the right tools and implementing the right tactics to achieve efficiency.
Social selling has been around for a while now, but it has only been picked up by the mainstream in recent times.
Essentially, it’s all about engagement.
1. Social Selling – The Right Engagement.
Sales teams are no longer only using email or the phone to engage with prospects; we’re using all means at our disposal.
The beauty about social selling is that it is not just open to sales or marketing people.
Everyone in the company can be involved. If you look around your office now, how many of your colleagues have a LinkedIn account, or a Twitter one, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat?
Everyone from the CEO down can and should have some involvement with helping increase the reach of your brand messages.
It all ties in with the latest buzzword to be doing the rounds – Account Based Marketing.
In a nutshell, Account Based Marketing is treating an account as a market in its own right. I’ve touched upon this previously in the posts Is Your B2B Sales Pipeline Strong and Healthy, and What Should You Do When A Prospect Says “I’m Not Interested”.
Ten plus years ago it was called Target Account Selling (TAS), and it was (and still is) about focusing your sales effort in the right place, with the right people, and on the right issues to generate the best possible outcome for closing the deal.
There are many ways both you and your teams can generate more sales leads by taking social selling to new heights.
2. Choose Wisely My Friend
There are lots of social platforms available to you to use for social selling, and the first key to making wise choices is limiting them to a few.
Having seven social accounts and actively using one or two of them is ineffective.
The negative image that arises from inactive accounts distracts from the value of your quality ones.
It’s a bit like having a blog page on your company website and never updating it. Focus on two or three that you can manage well.
When picking tools, select the ones that align well with your solutions and audience.
My preferences are LinkedIn and Twitter as they are two of the prominent social media platforms that salespeople turn to for social selling.
Yes, there are many available depending what industry you are active in, however, for the moment I’m going to focus on those two.
Both of these platforms presents a large, enthusiastic audience of B2B and Tech decision makers that is especially useful in generating IT sales leads.
And as most of our clients reside in the IT Technology sector, it makes sense for us to focus our efforts there.
3. Put Your Profiles to Work
One benefit of a robust strategy is it leaves more time to develop attractive and interesting profiles. And you need good social selling profiles.
According to the Social Selling and Sales Quota Guide:
“Various estimates from Gartner, Harvard Business Review, SiriusDecisions and others confirms that today’s buyer begins the buying process without the involvement of sales 60%-80% of the time.”
Your social media profiles are a powerful connection point to potential prospects.
Prospects looking for the types of solutions your business can provide, measure your credibility and viability from a few seconds of time on your profile.
Each sales rep and the rest of your colleagues should have a professional but friendly profile picture. Regardless of what you do within the organisation.
Let’s say I’m looking for a provider of Cisco networking maintenance and support services.
Well, I want to know who your Engineering or Support Manager is, or the qualification of your CCIE’s.
Guess what I’m going to do?
I’m going to look them up on LinkedIn.
He or she may have linked their Twitter account to their LinkedIn profile, so I’m going to check that too.
Use your descriptions to make quick, concise, engaging and informative selling messages.
Some tools, like LinkedIn, offer more content than others, such as Twitter and Instagram.
The point is the same, though: to make yourself appealing to someone looking to connect for more information to address a problem.
Buyers use social media for the exact same reasons you do. To engage and to research. And they are researching you.
4. Stay Active
By only using a couple of accounts and staying active, you maximise the networking and engagement value of social selling.
It is easier to monitor interest in your message on a few accounts. Spread yourself too thin, and you will soon lose the ability to have meaningful “conversations”.
LinkedIn allows you to track people that view your profile for engagement, and Twitter allows you to create lists of people you want to connect with.
I’ve often connected with people via my Twitter handle @JustCallMeWill before introducing myself on LinkedIn.
You can also monitor mentions of your accounts on most tools, which enables quick replies and lots of other engagement techniques.
Engagement is the factor that separates social selling from other branding and selling strategies.
Interact with people who are discussing business problems that your products and services solve.
Don’t deliver your seven-second commercial in a one-way direction.
Instead, approach social conversations in the same way you do face-to-face ones.
Listen, build rapport, empathise and invite a prospect to talk or follow-up for more information.
It’s all about the value you can provide to build a relationship.
Mapping out your messages and scheduling content helps in building a cohesive social selling strategy.
But as I said at the start, it’s not just the sales people who can use social media as a selling tool.
The latest report from CEO.com analysed the top Fortune500 CEO’s social activity, and their findings were:
- 61% of CEOs have no social presence whatsoever
- Not one Fortune500 CEO is active on all six major social platforms (which it totally understandable in my book)
- Although not active on their own accounts, 41% of all Fortune500 CEOs were featured on their companies’ YouTube accounts
- 70% of CEOs who are active on just one social network joined LinkedIn first
- Only 60% of CEOs who have Twitter accounts are actually tweeting
Compare that with Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce who is the most active Twitter CEO, sending 5 tweets per day. He says:
“The future of communicating with customers rests in engaging with them through every possible channel: phone, e-mail, chat, Web and social networks. Customers are discussing a company’s products and brand in real time. Companies need to join the conversation.”
5. Track and Adapt
A great benefit of social selling is that you can quickly measure results.
Track your new connections, engagement levels, visits generated and social mentions.
It will help build a picture for you around your chosen prospects (which leads back to the Account Based Marketing approach I mentioned earlier).
As you utilise a few social tools, figure out which platforms and message types generate the greatest reaction and response.
Over time you will hone your strategy to maximise your return on time investment.
Another way to use social media (Twitter in particular) is for research – for both potential prospects and competitors.
It will allow you to build that overall picture and map it to what you want to achieve as a business.
More contacts – better relationships – more leads – more sales – better referrals.
6. Optimising Social Selling
Optimising your social selling begins with selecting the right tools and tactics.
Build high-impact profiles and stay active.
Once you do that, you can track your ongoing performance and fine-tune your strategy to achieve the greatest results.
If you use a CRM tool, you can input that data directly into it to ensure both you & your team has the best possible information at your fingertips.
I do want to make one important distinction.
Use social media as an engagement tool for social selling. It is NOT an all-out selling tool.
Continually shouting about your products and services is not what people want and if that is all you do with it, ultimately it will have an adverse impact on both you and your company.
Social selling is simply another cog in your sales strategy, and just as you have learned the best way to use the telephone to your advantage, you need to learn the best way to use social media too.
If you find your management and staff are not using social selling as part of their daily and weekly rituals, there are likely two reasons for this:
(1) They don’t see the value in it, or
(2) They don’t understand it
Regardless of which one it is, it is now increasingly important that they get up to speed – quickly.
It’s a competitive landscape out there. Is your organisation the one that will get left behind?