Social selling has been a sales industry buzzword for the past few years, gaining steam in some circles the last six months – some even espousing it is the silver bullet to make selling (especially prospecting) “easy.” While these media may be relatively new to sellers and the sales industry as a whole, one thing remains and will always remain: The buyer demands to be seen, heard and genuinely served.
If your current opinion on social selling falls somewhere between “It is just a trend” and “Social media is for teenagers,” listen up: Social selling enables sellers to hyper-target prospects and establish rapport and trust through mutual existing connections and networks. It is also more efficient and fruitful than cold calling.
Buyers have more power than ever before to obtain information and build conclusions without ever speaking to a salesperson — and many do so online. Brands have the ability to influence what a buyer will find online, and so do their sellers.
According to research conducted by Jim Keenan of ASG, 78% of salespeople who use social media to sell outperform those who do not. The study also found that salespeople using social media met and exceeded sales quotas 23% more often as well.
Many business-to-consumer organizations have already discovered the benefits of selling with social media, however, business-to-business sellers have been left wanting for how to best leverage this tool.
Consider for a moment the power social selling puts in your, the B2B seller’s, hands to genuinely connect with your buyer.
You can connect with a buyer through social selling in a number of ways, through a number of social media platforms.
Take this scenario for instance: Your prospect has a problem he or she has not even considered fixing – arguably they do not realize they even have a problem. The prospect and you connect on LinkedIn through a mutual connection. Then the prospect sees your comment on an article in their industry, does some further research on you and realizes they do indeed have a challenge worthy of addressing and that your solution could be an option for helping him or her. The prospect reaches out to you for help.
Mark Fidelman of Forbes says, “A lead today can be someone complaining on Twitter that their current vendor is driving them crazy. It can be a question in a LinkedIn group. It can be an unassuming comment on a Facebook page. Today, leads are far more than a call from a friend, a business card from an event or a chance encounter on a flight.”
Social Selling has potential to influence a buyer’s journey — if used wisely.
According to Forrester study, Social Selling: A New B2B Imperative, the majority of B2B sellers use social media to expand their network of contacts, generate leads, and listen and learn about buyer preference and needs.
Since social media has infiltrated the majority of our society’s lives, many of your sellers will be familiar with using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook already. They just may need to tweak their strategy to achieve optimal social selling potential.
Maintain a consistent message across all media, across all sellers
If Henry posts one thing about your solution on LinkedIn and Gerome says another, brand confusion will ensue. Ask marketing to help provide your sales team strong messaging points about the brand, the solution/s, and the value and differentiation. Make sure to get your sellers’ buy-in on this messaging, otherwise they might never use it. On the same front, consider employing a social media strategy that helps guide and protect your organization’s messaging.
Know who your target buyer is, and have strategies in place for your sellers to meaningfully connect with them.
Sellers need to understand who they are targeting, where they can target them and what is an appropriate method to communicate per social media. They also need to understand the conversation needs to be about “them” (i.e. the prospective buyer), not “us” (i.e. the seller). Urge your sales team to ask more questions, to listen to answers and comments, and to respond with thought and compassion rather than offering a sales pitch.
Encourage your sellers to genuinely build relationships, no pitches attached.
While sellers need to adhere to the company’s messaging, they also need to use their own voice and personality on social media. People like authenticity, especially buyers.
Also, sharing relevant and interesting content is what gets buyers interested. sellers who join relevant Facebook or LinkedIn groups, comment with insight and value, and respond to questions or dissent find more success than those who provide pitch after pitch.
Consider implementing an enablement session to help your sellers navigate between their own authenticity and your company’s messaging.
Know where social selling lies in the sales funnel.
Social selling is not the end all, be all. It is a way to make that first connection, start to build a relationship and to help lead the prospect into the sales funnel.
While it is easy to knock social media, these tools have the potential to connect us to more people than we have ever been able to before. Buyers are not as receptive to many of the traditional selling techniques used in the past. They prefer to go down the sales funnel by their own doing — which often means they log into their Facebook accounts or open LinkedIn. Will your sellers be there to start and engage in a conversation?