You’ve probably heard of it already without really knowing what it is. Social selling is the latest digital trend, but what exactly is it? Is it digital marketing or just advertising via social media? Well, it’s neither. These 5 questions and answers will help shed some light.
What is Social Selling?
Social Selling is the art and science of prospecting and forming meaningful relationships with your target customers via social media.
It’s an innovative way to boost your sales using social networks, a new offshoot of traditional sales techniques. Rather than a marketing strategy, here it’s about a genuine commercial strategy that involves marketing and communication via social media.
Growing your company on social media helps to combine business and marketing for a consistent and more efficient overall strategy.
Using social networks during the sales process is a challenging part of a company’s digital transformation. It allows companies to target prospects more accurately, establish a long-term relationship of trust and leave phone prospecting behind for good.
Are you yet to incorporate Social Selling into your strategy? You run the risk of losing sales to your competitors who have already deployed a social media based digitalisation strategy. But it’s not too late. If you already have a Facebook page, or a profile on Instagram or LinkedIn, then you’ve already made your first step toward Social Selling.
Who is Social Selling for?
Social Selling initially got off the ground at the B2B level, but now absolutely any business can get involved, even B2C companies and brands with physical outlets.
When they first arrived, social networks were only used for marketing and communication, but businesses quickly realised that social media is an extraordinarily effective lever for their commercial activities.
Why use Social Selling?
On the one hand, because your competitors have already implemented this sales strategy via social networks, and it would be a shame to lose sales by refusing to use these channels. On the other hand, because it’s a proven, comprehensive sales technique that helps you stay consistent, find new leads more easily and build close, long-term relationships with your targets.
Today, we can confidently say that almost the entire world is connected and using social media. So it’s an immense opportunity for sales teams. And let’s not forget how much time you can save compared with traditional sales approach techniques.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the quality of the first contact you make will improve thanks to the fact that prospects share an enormous amount of information on social media, so your approach will be more targeted and relevant from the get-go. You can gather an impressive amount of information on potential prospects, whether it’s via posts they like, share and comment on, the people they follow or their centres of interest.
Better still, it’s through the solid network you create on social media that you’ll be able to approach new prospects. It’s almost a sort of referral system that will create an instant sense of trust. A mix of digital word of mouth, reference letters and network referral.
Which social media should you focus on?
The answer is very simple. You need to have a presence on the social networks where your targets and most relevant competitors spend their time. Ideally, you need to set up a targeted Social Selling strategy through social media. This article will help you identify the most appropriate social media platform or platforms for your line of business.
- LinkedIn is an excellent professional network for the world of B to B. You can use it to build a solid network and get recommendations from network members.
- Twitter is really efficient for the monitoring stage, also known as social listening. On Twitter you can create lists to keep track of content from a target group, such as current customers, prospects or competitors. Logically, you’ll want to keep these lists in private mode.
- Facebook and Instagram are more personal social media platforms, where your strategy will be different. You’ll want to create a Facebook page or Instagram account in the name of your company, rather than appearing as a person, so you can interact with other companies and your followers. You start by “liking”, commenting and sharing content, and it’s highly likely that if you produce quality content, companies and followers will like, share and comment on yours. Your follower engagement is what will help you become more visible in the long term. Interaction is key on social media, and there’s a whole range of features you can use to encourage it, such as surveys, live videos and stories.
How do you set up your Social Selling strategy?
Before discussing how, it’s important to explain what Social Selling isn’t. In no way does it involve bombarding strangers with tweets or private messages. This is called spam, and we don’t recommend resorting to it.
Keep in mind that Social Selling follows the same rules as traditional selling: building relationships, establishing good collaboration, earning credibility and providing the right solution to the right prospect at the right moment. New tools available on social media offer great added value to your sales strategy.
So what’s the strategy? Here are a few best practices:
- Align marketing and sales : the marketing and sales teams should have an integrated strategy for creating and sharing relevant content that reaches the target market in a precise way. Marketing provides the content, sales shares it.
- Show yourself : social networks are virtual worlds run on algorithms and artificial intelligence. It is essential to reintroduce that human touch and interact as such. So forget about off-the-shelf automatic comment or “like” generation tools. Your presence has to be authentic and credible, and the quality of your interactions is crucial for fostering genuine relationships. Also, take care to ensure your profiles across different social networks are constructed from the point of view of a prospect who’s first discovering your business.
- Practise Social Listening : in other words, carry out strategic monitoring to identify leads. Social media platforms offer a range of tools for this sort of monitoring of areas relevant to your line of business, your prospects or the competition. Social media allows your competitors and prospects to share incredibly valuable information on what they want and need, as well as on what they are unhappy about. Once identified, leads can be contacted at the opportune moment, when you can offer them the appropriate solution to their problems.
- Offer added value : here is where quality content and information can provide the strategy you need. The content you offer to your target should be relevant and totally aligned with their needs and problems. Your positioning should take the form of a solution and not just another solicitation message. Here again, the marketing teams can help out by preparing appropriate content and information that’s both useful and relevant. Social Selling leaves little room for error, so you need to target accurately and at the right time. The goal here is not to generate a sale on first contact by boasting about a product or service, but to establish relationships that will lead to sales later on.
- Earn loyalty : The final point is about building meaningful relationships that last. This is a long-term game. Keeping in touch with your new contacts over social media, following their development over time and interacting with them regularly will ensure you and your brand stay top of mind among your prospects when they’re ready to buy. Positioning yourself as a market leader in your sector is what Social Selling is all about.