8 min read time
Social selling appears to be the latest “hot topic” for the B2B sales sphere, with the term discussed widely. Many are keen to understand precisely what social selling is, and ask whether it actually works. Can it close sales and generate revenue, or is it just a trendy fad that will be forgotten as quickly as it’s come around? Read on and learn the essentials of social selling, what it all means and whether it can help you convert new business leads to get more customers.
What is social selling?
The idea of social selling seems very simple- it’s essentially the addition of social media to the salesperson’s arsenal. As modern times change the way we look at the world, B2B buyers have more connections and are more informed than they ever were before. The internet has also allowed for an ease in word-of-mouth sharing, broadening the reach you have to discover new business, but also to lose credibility. It will come as no surprise to know that 90% of C-level executives have said they no longer respond to commonly used sales techniques like cold-calls and sales emails (only 24% of which actually ever get opened), so social media has come into its own to fill the gap.
Social selling aims to bring B2B sales tactics into the 21st century, appealing to generations Y and Z on a medium they find less intrusive and more controlled. As 53% of B2B buyers currently use social media platforms to assess new tools and technologies, it’s no surprise it’s soon predicted to overtake telecommunications in outbound sales. The social selling technique aims to use social media to not only learn more about specific prospects and their industries, but to help gain wider networks and interact with prospects on a deep, one-to-one level, answering specific questions and sharing content in a way that doesn’t interrupt their busy schedules.
Can it close sales?
The short answer is yes. Yes it can! The numbers speak for themselves; studies show sales reps using social selling are not only 40% more likely to see success in their ventures, but also have a sales pipeline 18% bigger, moving 28% faster than those who don’t. Added to this, those employing social selling techniques see an average ROI of 57%- what’s not to like?
That is of course the short answer. Social selling does work, of that there is no doubt, but it can only bring incredible results if it’s properly strategized and adopted fully as part of the sales process. So here’s some tips to take forward if you’re keen to see social selling help your sales team get more customers!
Use it for the right thing
It’s where many social selling beginners slip up. They think they can just get on LinkedIn, connect with loads of people that look like they fit a buyer persona and message them to get an instantly good reaction. This just isn’t the case- there’s no strategic thought behind that, and you’re not using the social media platform for the right reasons.
This is where social selling differs intricately from marketing on social media. Social media marketing aims to capture a large audience, generating brand awareness and drive inquiries, but social selling goes much deeper. It’s all about connecting with your prospects and business leads on a genuinely personal level. Interact with what they share, answer their questions and engage with the content they read (offering them some of yours too!). It’s about providing a tailored, personalized experience you can’t rely on a script for. One of the reasons modern B2B buyers are hesitant to respond to traditional sales techniques is because of those untrustworthy, “Wolf of Wall Street” sort of tactics, manipulating people to agree and making it all about the salesperson, and not about the prospect's business needs. Social selling, used properly, easily combats this, and offers salespeople a great chance to work with business leads in a way that’s convenient for everyone. It’s predicted that unless business sales strategies change to match the modern buyer’s preferred journey, over 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to automated e-commerce options.
So use social media to make every prospect feel special, give them your undivided attention and be the innovative problem solver they need you to be! LinkedIn is a great place to start- you can easily see who has viewed your profile, so you know who already has an interest in you and what you can offer them. What better time to strike up conversation!
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Give it time
To be successful in your use of social media for B2B sales, you need to give it time in more ways than one. On a daily basis, you spend plenty of time on the phone, or sending emails- social selling requires the same commitment to social media, you’ll need to work with it daily to generate the results you want (especially when searching for new business leads). It’s thought that for a social selling strategy to be successful, salespeople need to devote 5-10% of their day to social media- which isn’t bucket loads, but it becomes a substantial amount over time. This time should be used to undergo several different tasks, from establishing new connections to answering queries posted in groups and discussions, there’s much more to the use of social media in social selling than just getting new business leads and moving them down the pipeline- expect to do some nurturing along the way!
Due to this nurturing, you also need to give each person you interact with time to decide whether or not want to go further with your brand and your product. You may make some new connections, but don’t expect them to be on a call with you in a week, or even a month, however, they may lead to a big business win before the year is out. Nurtured business leads spend 47% more on a product, so the wait will be worth it! Make sure you remain engaging, responding to what they do, and don’t force your product down their throat- pad your profile out well with content and branding, and you’ll notice people start to do their own research.
Make friends with marketing
A huge part of seeing a successful social selling strategy lies in the sharing of relevant content, valuable to the business lead in question. This means your whole sales floor need some great assets and resources to share, and there’s one place you can find them- marketing. Buddying up with marketing not only makes you 67% more likely to close a deal, and allows both departments to see over 200% more value from their efforts, it also opens up the channels to get your hands on the best, and most current content. It is this content that enables successful social sellers to fully nurture their business network, in groups or on an individual level. Content sharing helps you gain credibility, appear an expert and also appear genuinely interested in prospect's pain-points. So when they’re ready to buy, they already trust you and your product- a win-win!
For B2B sales departments embarking on their social selling journey, marketing can teach you a lot about social media, from the best tools to use, the current trends and more importantly- the out dated tactics! These little things all add up to make a successful social sales strategy that you can rely on to get results.
Continue the relationship after the sale
This is the true secret to successful social sales, and it will honestly change the way you do everything! Working so hard on creating valuable and genuine connections on social media means you can keep growing it after the sale is closed, continually engaging with each other and checking in. This comes with some enormous benefits, and helps your social sales strategy have longevity.
Firstly, extending this relationships offers great upsell and cross-sell opportunities. You’ll be the first they come to when they need more of the same, or they’re looking to boost what they got first time round. They trust you, they’re up to date with your business and they want to support your product/solution. It works for them, and it definitely works for you too!
Secondly, lengthening the relationship means you’re able to confidently ask for referrals, which 91% of B2B buyers are happy to give despite only 11% of salespeople asking for them! B2B buyers see referrals as the most trusted source of information, so they’re a much easier sale- if anything, they’re like gold-dust. So the more you can get, the better!
Both of these benefits are compelling reasons to keep the relationship going after the sale has ended, however you need to work at it, don’t expect to just say “hi” once a month and then get loads of referrals- you need to be constantly engaged as if they were a good friend. Like and comment on their posts, check in regularly, even introduce them to business connections you think they have a lot in common with! These great opportunities don’t come free, even in social selling, you need to work for them.
So there it is! Social selling, what it is and how you can use it to close more sales, worth better money for bigger business wins! Though salespeople naturally dislike changing tactics and systems, especially when they’ve found one that woks for them, unless B2B sales team modernize their strategies and respond to what the buyers want, they’ll soon get left behind.
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