Are you finding your inbound leads non-existent? Are you about to pick up the phone to make another fruitless cold call? Or perhaps you are writing yet another email to bombard your outdated contact list with the same old offers?
These methods don’t work in an online world anymore. Buyer behaviour has changed so dramatically that sales teams and business owners need new ways of finding and engaging with prospects.
Your potential customers are conducting their research before they decide to buy. They are building relationships with brands before committing. They are looking for help, value and engagement before they convert.
Selling has changed.
Marketing has changed.
The channels have changed.
Interruption marketing no longer works. Instead, it’s about creating relationships that get customers to know, like and trust you.
“78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media”LinkedIn
Forget traditional marketing. Forget social media marketing. Your business needs a new playbook. A social selling strategy will help you attract clients at the right time.
However, making the shift and getting your sales team to follow can be tricky, but it’s the right path you and your organisation need to follow if you want to turn contacts into contracts.
What is social selling?
Social selling is not just about sharing company updates, marketing your products and pushing out social media posts.
Social selling is about harnessing social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) to sustain long-term growth goals, year over year, while continuously enhancing your buyer’s experience. Participating in the social media community that your prospects are already active in turns you from a cold caller into a trusted member of their community.
Relationship building is at the core of social selling. It’s about creating two-way relationships with potential customers, nurturing this pipeline with online conversations and providing relevant and valuable content that speaks directly to them.
If you have the right social selling strategy, your business will be in front of customers’ minds when they decide to buy. That meaningful relationship nurtured through your social media accounts will make that prospect reach out to you.
How effective is social selling?
“Organisations using social selling have seen a 10-20% increase in win rate, 20-30% acceleration in cycle time, and 10-15% increase in revenue.”KISSMetrics
Social selling can help you
- Create more conversations with buyers in your target audience
- Be more discoverable to decision-makers
- Build your reputation and recommendations
- Demonstrate your worth with social proof
- Monitor prospects’ needs and wants
- Drive traffic to your website
How do I start social selling?
To be an effective social seller, you must optimise your LinkedIn and content in a buyer-centric way.
Buyer-centric means that your LinkedIn profile is written much like an advert for you and your business that anybody in the world can see, and it’s visible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Like a good ad, your listing must get the viewer to take action.
At a minimum, you want them to follow you, and at a maximum, you want to be so compelling they contact you and ask to set up a meeting. A compelling LinkedIn profile can differentiate between winning new business or the customer going to the competition.
Why does your LinkedIn profile matter?
Your profile is your digital ambassador, representing you and your business 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is networking when you are asleep, commute to work, in meetings, and even on holiday! In many cases, your LinkedIn profile will be the first thing a prospective customer or client sees when looking for you. A compelling LinkedIn profile can differentiate between winning new business or the customer going to the competition.
Your LinkedIn Profile has to have the following aspects:
✅ a well-developed position.
✅ a well-crafted, buyer/customer-centric (attractive to a customer rather than a recruiter) and messaging around that position.
✅ very little in the way of stuff the customer doesn’t care about.
✅ a clear call to action (LinkedIn banner, About Section etc)
LinkedIn measures your social selling ability based on its LinkedIn SSI score – but the principles also apply to any of your other social media channels.
Your SSI score measures the following:
❤️ Establish your professional brand
💜 Find the right people
💚 Engage with insights
💙 Build relationships
An excellent social seller typically has a LinkedIn SSI score of 70 and above. Those that do, according to LinkedIn, create 45% more opportunities and are 51% more likely to achieve quota.
Therefore, to successfully socially sell, you need to ensure you and your employees focus on improving these four components on LinkedIn and other business-related social channels.
1) Establish your professional brand
Social selling requires a review of your professional profile and employee profiles if they are on LinkedIn. As your employees are related to your company on LinkedIn, it’s essential to tap into this invaluable resource and showcase employee expertise because they bring a new level of authenticity, credibility, and trust to the company’s brand story.
Combined employee social media networks are typically at least ten times larger than those of corporate brands [Source: Cisco]. Leads generated by these networks convert 7x more frequently [Source: IBM] and, better still, user-generated content receives 50% more engagement and a 5x greater click-through rate than branded content.
Both you and your employees need to have buyer-centric profiles that attract customers, not recruiters.
Although a business should never force people to post their content, the more employees they can convert to advocates who will be engaged and inspired to share on their behalf, the more successful the company.
2) Finding the right people
It’s not as simple as picking up the phone or going to business events anymore. Networking and prospecting have different sets of rules online.
While talking to strangers can be daunting, there are several strategies you can employ to help you find and connect with decision-makers.
Take time to research, prepare and engage effectively before requesting connections.
LinkedIn has powerful tools like Sales Navigator to help you search and target the decision-makers in your network and industry-related business groups that are ideal for finding customers.
3) Engage with insights
You need to create regular content and updates that connect with the decision-makers. This must be carefully thought out, composed and scheduled to reach potential customers at the right time.
Content needs to complement your offering and your brand. It needs to show that you understand the customer’s problem and that your brand or business has the best solution.
Besides creating your content, you need to participate in conversations, sharing and adding your insight on industry trends or your perspective.
You also need to create the type of content your customers want. So do they want short-form videos or long white papers? Or perhaps they want quick tips and how-to guides. Find out what content will connect with them.
Above all, don’t forget the “social” aspect of social selling and be a valued contributor and community member.
4) Build relationships
It’s not enough to have thousands of contacts and followers. If they are never going to buy from you or never engage with you, they will not benefit your business.
Your goal should be to generate and build long-term trust with real buyers and decision-makers.
Try utilising social listening tools, and find out what’s trending in your industry.
Find out what customers are complaining about and whether they have any unmet needs. Empathise or demonstrate that you understand them. Discover what they are responding to and liking, sharing and engaging.
Your relationship-building should include posting content regularly and knowing how to tag and hashtag effectively in your updates.
Video is also great for raising your profile and personally connecting with prospects. Even better, sharing social proof with video testimonials from your customers can power your engagement and boost your brand.
Video is shared up to 20x more than other content on the platform.
How to create a confident and skilled social selling workforce?
Effective social selling requires instilling a culture of social selling in your business. Even if your employees and sales team use social media consistently, social media for social selling requires new skills and awareness.
Using a blend of training and coaching can better equip your team with the right skills. Coaching also helps build a deeper level of learning through accountability and goal setting.
Coaches also help your staff learn in ways that suit them, not just through bland materials. They also act to embed change and, combined with dedicated social selling workshops, can be a great way to educate and empower you.
By investing in social selling, you will keep your business flexible and innovative and connect with those buyers who will make a difference in your business growth.
Ready to start social selling?
Social selling techniques can help you dramatically improve your sales engine and pipeline.
Remember to focus on establishing a solid brand with plenty of rich content and finding the right people to target.
Above all, build strong relationships with people by connecting regularly and communicating. You can’t fake this, so make sure you have a strategy to engage.
Mastering these social selling techniques and tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator will deliver results.
Hopefully, this article has given you a taster of what social selling can do for your business.