What is social selling, and why should you care?
If you’ve heard the term, you’ve probably got some questions. Is it the same as social media marketing? (Nope.) Does your business need it? (Yep.) How can you do it right? (Read on to find out.)
Without meaning to sound dramatic, social selling is the sales strategy of the present and the future. Authentic relationships have always been the key to long-term sales success – and the social selling process has opened the floodgates.
Don’t get left behind.
In this article, you’ll learn what social selling is, why it works, and how to do it right. Let’s get started.
In This Article
- 1 What is Social Selling?
- 2 Why is Social Selling Important?
- 3 Why Social Selling Works
- 4 5 Essential Social Selling Strategies
- 5 12 Powerful Social Selling Tips
- 6 Summary: Social Selling
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is the process of using social media platforms to find, connect with, and nurture sales prospects. It’s a way to create authentic relationships and build trust with potential customers, which can increase your chances of sales in the future.
It’s important to note that social selling isn’t about bombarding people with unsolicited messages promoting your business – that’s called spam.
Social selling also isn’t a quick way to land sales, as it’s much like lead nurturing. Instead of going for a hard close, you need to build genuine relationships by engaging with prospects over time.
There’s never a guarantee that your efforts will pay off, but who knows where your new relationships will lead? You could end up landing more than a sale.
Now you know what social selling is, let’s explore the benefits of social selling and why it’s important for your business.
Why is Social Selling Important?
Why is social selling important? In short, it works. Let’s check out some social selling statistics that show its effectiveness.
According to LinkedIn, 78% of salespeople engaged in social selling outsell peers who don’t use social media.
The platform also scores individuals using its ‘social selling index.’ This metric is based on how well social sellers build their personal brand, target prospects, engage with content, and develop trusted relationships. LinkedIn found that salespeople with a strong social selling index have 45% more sales opportunities than others, and are 51% more likely to hit their sales quotas.
Plus, top-performing professionals who close 51% more deals than their peers consider social networking sites to be a “very important” aspect of their success.
No wonder social selling is a hot topic.
In the image below, Google Trends shows how interest in the term ‘social selling’ has steadily grown over the past decade.
Today, businesses in almost every industry have embraced social selling strategies to some degree. So, if you’re not using social media for sales yet, now’s the time to start.
Okay, but why is social selling so effective?
Why Social Selling Works
There are many reasons why social selling works so well.
To start, social selling strategies provide a way to find new leads without resorting to the dreaded practice of cold calling and emails.
Plus, there are more than 3.5 billion social media users worldwide, and this number is growing – that’s about 45% of the current population worldwide.
As a result, social selling provides a virtually unlimited supply of sales prospects and opportunities. Or to put it another way, there’s a good chance that a large cohort of your target market uses social media.
If that’s not enough, social media also makes it relatively easy to obtain invaluable information about your prospects before you contact them – a tactic known as social listening.
For example, you can look at a potential prospect’s LinkedIn posts and read their comments on other people’s posts. From their activity, it’s possible to learn what someone cares about, what frustrates them, and what they want.
Consequently, your first attempt to connect with a sales prospect can be highly personalized and relevant to their needs and desires. This leads to more meaningful interactions and relationships. Especially when 76% of buyers are ready to have conversations on social media with potential providers.
Social selling can also help you build a strong network on various social media platforms. Then you can seek introductions to new prospects using mutual connections. This type of introduction can help to establish a sense of trust from the get-go.
Bottom line, social selling works. So, how can you do it right?
5 Essential Social Selling Strategies
Now that you understand what social selling is and why it’s so important, let’s run through some social selling best practices.
These strategies should help you better understand the social selling process – and how to implement it effectively.
1. Listen to Sales Prospects
According to LinkedIn, 62 percent of B2B buyers respond to sales professionals who share insights and opportunities relevant to their business.
You can only do this if you first listen carefully to what your prospect wants and needs.
A relationship is a two-way street. Without listening, you stand no chance of developing meaningful connections that could lead to sales.
2. Show Up Consistently
Social selling strategies are, well, social.
So, shortcuts won’t work. Automated liking and commenting tools do nothing to establish or build genuine connections. When it comes to social selling, these types of tools can actually damage your personal and professional brands.
You need to show up often.
Be present, engaged, and authentic – any other approach is likely to hinder your results in the long-term.
3. Offer Value at Every Opportunity
You have to give before you can get.
Avoid any attempt to pitch or position your products or services until you’ve developed a genuine, mutually beneficial, meaningful connection with your prospect.
If you try to sell without providing value, you could burn bridges before you even build them.
Always go the extra mile with your posts, comments, and messages. As the founder of Convince and Convert, Jay Baer, said, “The gap between what’s expected and what you deliver is where the magic happens, in business and in life.”
4. Create Authentic Relationships
Meaningful relationships are the foundation of social selling. Without authenticity there’s no trust – and without trust, there’s no sale.
Work to develop rapport, mutual understanding, and respect. Don’t think of the social selling process as just selling, think of it more like making friends.
5. Don’t Rush or Push a Sale
Again, social selling is all about building genuine relationships – and relationships take time.
So, don’t try to rush to the sale.
Instead, take the time needed to establish an authentic relationship with sales prospects and nurture those relationships.
Only then can you mention what you have to offer at a suitable time – when your offering is exactly what the person wants and needs.
12 Powerful Social Selling Tips
Now that you understand some key social selling strategies let’s dive a little deeper.
Here are 12 social selling techniques and tips that provide more actionable details to help you start social selling.
1. Optimize Your Social Profiles for Social Selling
Before you can start using social media for sales, you need to optimize your social profiles.
An outdated, incomplete, or unprofessional profile will hamper virtually all the social selling techniques you use.
What’s more, your profile should be far more than a resume.
Instead, it should establish you as a knowledgeable and well-respected professional who can offer valuable insights and fresh perspectives to your target prospect.
2. Create Social Listening Alerts
Social listening is the process of tracking mentions of certain keywords and phrases on social media platforms, to learn about your customers, prospects, or competitors.
Joei Chan, the Head of Content at Linkfluence, said, “There are a lot of opportunities that you can discover by listening closely to what your customers are saying.”
So, work to understand the keywords and phrases your sales prospects may use, and then set up social listening alerts to monitor them.
3. Participate in Online Groups and Forums
One of the quickest and easiest ways to connect with potential sales prospects is by using LinkedIn groups and other relevant online forums.
To find out which LinkedIn groups to join, visit prospect’s profiles and scroll to the bottom of the page – there, you’ll be able to see which groups they subscribe to. You can also join general industry groups.
4. Engage in the Comments Section
Read the comments section of high-performing posts in your industry – you never know what you might find. At the very least, you should have a better understanding of your target market’s views and frame of mind.
And whenever you see an opportunity to contribute to the conversation, get involved. Whether you offer an opinion, reply to someone’s question, or propose a new question, the comments section is a great way to connect with new sales prospects.
Remember, listening is vital. As the famous advertising executive David Ogilvy once said, “If you want to be interesting, be interested.”
5. Subscribe to Relevant Blogs and Influencers
If you want to create more opportunities to engage potential prospects, it helps to stay up-to-date with trends and developments in your industry. Plus, you’re able to contribute to conversations more when you’re informed.
Take some time to discover what type of content potential buyers share most, and then subscribe to the blogs and influencers that create the content.
6. Curate and Share Valuable Content
One of the best ways to establish your credibility is to share content that your potential prospects find valuable.
Whenever you read something interesting or useful, share it or use it to start conversations on social media.
7. Share Eye-Catching Case Studies
Another way to build credibility is to share successful case studies from your clients.
Again, don’t just promote your product – the case studies should be helpful to prospects in some way, even if they don’t make a purchase with you.
So, try to share case studies that illustrate innovative or insightful ways that your prospects can improve their businesses.
8. Create Original Content
Another way to help your potential prospects while establishing yourself as an expert is to create original content.
This takes far more time than curating and sharing others’ content. However, it’s an excellent way to set yourself apart from the competition.
Consider starting a blog, creating videos, or designing infographics.
As always, try to provide as much value as you can to your target market, and don’t make your content a sales pitch.
Remember what the CEO of Express Writers, Julia McCoy, said: “Consistency is key. Whenever you start, give your audience something to look forward to.”
9. Keep a Close Eye on Social Engagement Metrics
Pay close attention to your engagement metrics on social media.
Monitoring the number of likes, comments, and shares your posts receive can reveal what topics and formats perform best.
Look for trends and double-down on what works.
10. Ask for Introductions from Mutual Connections
Whenever you identify a potential sales prospect, check to see if you share a mutual connection. Then, contact your mutual friend and ask to be introduced.
Connecting in this way can kickstart a new relationship from a place of trust and respect.
11. Consider Using Specialized Social Selling Tools
There are plenty of incredible social selling tools available.
Many tools aren’t a necessity thanks to social selling platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. However, they can help you increase your effectiveness and access new opportunities.
12. Move Your Connections Off Social Media
It helps to develop relationships through more personal methods of communication, such as email or video calls.
Once you’ve established a rapport with a prospect, look for an opportunity to move your relationship off social media to continue your conversation.
Summary: Social Selling
Social selling is the process of building meaningful relationships with sales prospects on social media platforms, to increase your chances of sales down the line.
The social selling process provides access to a massive pool of sales prospects. And through social listening, you’re able to personalize every interaction.
In summary, here are five essential social selling strategies to bear in mind:
- Use social listening techniques to learn about your target market and empower yourself to interact intelligently with them.
- Show up consistently on social media platforms to develop your personal brand and increase your chances of meeting potential prospects.
- Provide value at every opportunity by sharing relevant content and contributing to comment sections.
- Build meaningful, genuine relationships with sales prospects over time.
- Don’t rush the relationship or push a sale ever – only mention your offering when it’s of benefit to your prospect.
Social selling is a powerful sales strategy when done right, so take the time to develop your social selling skills.
And don’t forget to enjoy the personal benefits of social selling, such as being engaged in a vibrant professional community, developing your personal brand, and forming meaningful relationships.