In 2017, the world is more connected than ever. Social media has been completely ingrained in modern society and is here to stay...for personal and professional interactions.
On a personal level, social media lets us maintain community and sense of group identity, and keep in touch with people all over the world. On a business level, it provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the goals and pain points of prospective customers. Since your best-fit buyer personas are already out there posting their wants and needs online, why not engage with them on those very channels? It’s time your team begins to master the practice of social selling.
It’s quite simply using online social tools to engage in the relationship-building strategies that have always been the foundation of what good sales professionals do.—HootSuite
Social selling, as defined by HubSpot, is “when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering prospects' questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.” (HubSpot)
Notice a crucial keyword here: until?
Inbound marketing and sales methodology focuses on providing value to a potential customer at each stage of the buyer’s journey. It’s about providing content that’s informative and helps in the decision-making process.
Interaction on social media is meant to be a natural, friendly, and free-flowing communication outlet. Social selling isn’t social media marketing. With social selling, you’re meeting potential prospects on their own terms and trying to help, not promote your products or services too early in the buyer’s journey.
Social selling is certainly not social automation. Honestly, no one wants their notification, direct messages, or timelines turned into another avenue for spam.
People are open to interacting with experts who can help educate them on issues, answer their questions and solve their problems; they tend to respond well to direct outreach from brand managers, product developers, and even sales team members.
In fact, according to LinkedIn, over 75% of buyers would be willing to have a social media conversation with potential providers, and more than 62 percent of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who connect with them to share insights and opportunities relevant to their business.
92 percent of B2B buyers are willing to engage with a sales professional who is a known industry thought leader.—LinkedIn
Are you looking to see results like this for your product or service? Then make a commitment to developing consistent, relevant, and well-crafted content to distribute on social media.
Social selling means:
- Building relationships
- Listening for the opportunity to join the conversation
- Presenting solutions for pain points and problems
- Addressing needs and wants
- Offering a holistic approach to solving problems
Now that we’ve discussed what social selling is, let’s dive into the best practices for using social selling to leverage your website.
First, make sure each social media profile is branded to match your website and any content you may be sharing on your social platform. It would be confusing and even unprofessional if a user clicks through Facebook to your website and is stuck wondering if they have found the right profile.
Pro Tip: If you haven’t established a brand style guide, there’s no time like the present. Brand identity is crucial in the digital age.
You can check out this blog post that includes 9 essential tips on creating the most effective website.
Exploring the ins and outs of social strategy includes the type of content you’re sharing on social media, how your social community interacts with your content and other community members, what questions they are asking, and why they are seeking you out on the social platforms.
Grab a snack and take 3 minutes to check out the video below. It will help improve your content strategy and engage your audience with social campaigns.
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You should also spend some time thinking about your ideal customers, and what kinds of channels they are most likely to be using. It can be a big waste of time if you are creating and maintaining a company profile on a social platform that doesn’t have a following or community engagement.
Optimize your social selling approach by sticking to your brand with both voice and tone, in direct conversations, in the social updates you are posting, and in the responses you are providing. Be knowledgeable and approachable. If you focus on posting quality content, then it will eventually attract and resonate with a social community. As users recognize and become familiar with your brand, they are much more likely to respond to online engagement.
For B2B products and services, LinkedIn groups and Twitter conversations are great resources to tap into. You can search for the keywords specific to your industry, and see what businesses and individuals are currently discussing. Join these groups, and contribute! You should not join to promote your brand, product, or service. Simply weigh in with your expertise, contribute to the conversation, provide answers and possibly a reference link to enhance the conversation, or agree with a concept that another industry thought leader has posted. Actions like these put you on the front lines of social communities and people will start to see you as an industry thought leader.
Remember, at the end of the day, this might be the one crucial statistic you won't want to forget:
78% of social sellers outsell peers who don't use social media.—LinkedIn
We live in the age of hashtags and reposts, follow-backs and trending digital conversation topics. It can seem overwhelming to understand the multitude of best practices that vary with each of the social media channels. But, participating in these channels means interacting with your target audience in a way that resonates with them. You are essentially meeting them in the middle... It’s all about them!
Start to build your social selling skills by taking 15 minutes every day to listen to the buzz happening within your industry. Set a few Google Alerts to stay up-to-date with trending topics, industry insights, and breaking news. Social media doesn’t have to be a ‘difficult digital tool.’ It’s an opportunity to know more about the people who purchase your products and services.
If you would like to polish your social selling skills, subscribe to the In-Sites Blog below and don’t forget to download the Social Prospecting Workbook.
Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below, shout them out on Twitter @DirectImages, or submit them here. Until next time, be sure to check out the provided resources and learn for yourself about the ins and outs of social selling in 2017.
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