If you’re not familiar with social selling, it’s when salespeople use social media to interact with prospects, ultimately driving a product or service purchase. Social selling typically involves sales people doing all of the following:
- Building a strong personal brand (developing credibility and trust)
- Using content to solve potential customers pain points (providing value)
- Growing a social network (building online and offline relationships)
Can social selling work for you?
Before deciding whether social selling is right for you or your organization, you need to answer the following questions:
- Does your company have a sales force?
- Are you actively responsible for generating new business leads?
If you answered yes to both questions, then you need to incorporate social media into your sales toolset. No matter the size of your sales force, social selling can turn your team from good to great. Below are 5 tips for getting your social selling salesforce up and running:
1) Establish your personal brand. If you haven’t done so already, at the very minimum, you should have a fully developed LinkedIn profile. This includes a professional photo, job history, achievements, etc. This extends to any other social media platform in which you have a presence. Make sure your personal brand is consistent from one social media channel to the next. After all, you are a brand and want to ensure that your customers’ brand experience is consistent.
2) Grow your network. This may seem obvious, but the best way to grow your network is to start connecting with the people you already know (family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, former colleagues) and then be prepared to take your network to the next level. Connect with people on LinkedIn after meeting them in person at a networking event, business pitch, phone call, on a plane, standing in line at Disney World…you get the idea. Connect online with offline.
3) Provide value. You’ve done the upfront work in establishing and growing your network. Now it’s time to provide value. Value can be in the form of sharing your company’s content (newsletter, blog, e-book, white paper, product update, etc.) or in the form of providing a unique perspective on industry-related news (innovation, industry growth).
4) Don’t be a social media bystander. Social selling works best as a pull strategy. Instead of simply sharing content, seek conversations or content in which you can engage. This can be a simple as a “Like” or sharing a piece of content on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. The better option is to comment on content. When you take time to share a unique point of view, answer a question or affirm a belief, you are creating visibility, which helps you establish authority and trust. The key here is to be consistent. You need to be socially active on a daily or weekly basis.
5) Enrich your relationships. Lastly, once you have established your network, you need to maintain your reputation. The most successful social sellers are those who maintain an engaged social presence. The worst thing you can do is connect with someone based on an immediate need and then never engage with that individual ever again. If you only reach out to people when you want something, you’re growing an empty network. Below are a few ideas on how to enrich your relations:
- The small things count. Remember birthdays, anniversaries, milestones and promotions. Be sure to recognize these event by acknowledging them. A congratulatory message goes a long way.
- The simple things count. By liking, commenting, retweeting and forwarding content from those in your network demonstrates that you are listening to your network.
- Recognition counts. When was the last time you wrote a LinkedIn recommendation? Was it when someone asked you for a recommendation or was it unsolicited? Do not wait until someone asks you to write a recommendation or endorsement, be proactive. An unsolicited endorsement is an opportunity for surprise and delight and will only reinforce your social reputation.
- Amplify earned media mentions. Whenever a member of your network has taken the time to post about your company or product, use your social channels or blog to convey the “third party voice.” Referrals and recommendations are gold; take time to share these insights.
While these steps can be time-consuming there are several compelling reasons as to why they are important:
- 90% of decision makers say they never respond to cold outreach
- 75% of B2B buyers now use social media to be more informed on vendors
- 61% of organizations engaged in social selling report a positive impact on revenue growth.
- 91% of social sellers report an expected increase in their company’s sales revenue in the next 12 months
Please use this printable graphic as a helpful tool for you and your team: