Social selling is the process of leveraging your social network to find prospects, connect and build trusted relationships and convert them to customers.
Both buyers and decision makers are changing the way they purchase products. They’re transitioning most of their conversations and information gathering to online.
Research shows that 75% of B2B Buyers and 84% of C-Level/VP Executives use social media before making any purchasing decision.
With these kinds of numbers, you can see why social selling needs to be part of your sales strategy!
To succeed in today’s marketplace, it’s essential you adapt to this buying behavior.
Conversations that used to begin over the phone or face to face now start through social media.
This disruption has left many companies scrambling to change their old sales methodology to the new way of buying and selling.
It’s not as simple as just jumping onto Facebook, Twitter or any other social platform and giving your pitch.
To be successful with social selling you’ll need to have an online strategy.
As a salesperson, you still need to hustle to get new business.
And, the fundamentals of selling are still the same whether it’s through social or not.
You go through the process of finding and engaging a prospect, uncover their needs, offer the best solution for their problem and close the sale.
On top of that, you have other day-to-day sales activities that must be accounted for as well.
To avoid having social media eat up huge chunks of your day (something we’re all guilty of) you need to allocate time for the different areas of prospecting and selling.
Put an actionable plan in place so you make the best use of your time on social media.
These 4 steps will help you to get the process started.
#1 – Find your ideal buyer
#2 – Choose the right platform
#3 – Build trust online
#4 – Establish strong online relationships
Find Your Ideal Buyer
The first step to mapping out a strategy in social selling is to create a buyer persona – a fictional representation of your ideal buyer.
If you’ve never bothered to make one before, Hubspot has a great article which shows how to create detailed buyer personas. You can also download their free persona template to get you started.
This will give you a better understanding of your buyer and you can quickly eliminate those who don’t fit the profile.
Target those you want to engage with who have the possibility of becoming a potential customer and provide them with meaningful content.
This will help you cut through the noise of social media and your prospect will hear what you have to say.
Choose The Right Platform
Your next step is to determine where your ideal prospect hangs out on social media. If you’re unsure of where they are, then look to see where your competitors are finding business.
According to the 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the top B2B social media platforms in order of usage are:
LinkedIn is the #1 platform used in B2B sales.
And it’s preferred by those in a more senior position, aiding them when making purchasing decisions. They can research products, gather competitive information and check out a vendors reputation.
At times, they seek out recommendations from peers on LinkedIn as to which companies might be able to help solve their pain points.
So, if buyers and decision makers are leveraging social media to connect with sellers, then make sure you’re strategically positioned right in front of them.
Build Trust Online
We already know that buyers today are approximately 57% of the way through their buying journey before they contact a sales rep.
Knowing this, it’s imperative you engage with buyers early on. Provide them with content they’re looking for as they start to conduct their own research.
And, even if there’s no guarantee they’ll ever become your customer still assist them in whatever way you can.
With an average of 5.4 people involved in the buying process today, aim to connect with each one of them. It will also help solidify your relationship with the entire group, if they know you’re talking to others on the same team.
Pay attention to what conversations are taking place and what type of questions are being asked.
Add something meaningful to the conversation and answer their questions without expecting something in return.
As you listen closely you’ll quickly uncover pain points. Then supply them with data and other relevant information specifically targeted to their problem.
By doing this you’ll establish yourself as an authority on the subject.
And the more you reach out and engage with prospects the more you build trust with them.
Establish Strong Online Relationships
As a sales rep, you’re already aware of the importance of relationship building. It’s the backbone of selling. (If you haven’t figured that out by now, then you really need to change professions!)
Social media allows you to easily develop relationships by being social on it. So, keep engaging potential customers in one on one conversations.
And especially useful is that regardless of a person’s seniority, which department they’re in or where their office is located, you have complete access to them.
Nurture your relationship by sharing thoughts and ideas that continue to add to the trust they have in you.
When you start to notice buying signals then ask for an in person meeting to continue moving the sale forward.
Let me know if you have other ways of social selling that have proven effective.