Push strategy of sales is increasingly becoming frowned at by buyers. People don’t like the idea of being sold to. Rather, they want to be offered value for their money. As such, they embark on conducting research to guide their buying decisions.
For B2B businesses that are used to traditional pull sales strategy, this can make them lose out on a lot. However, with social selling, sales professionals can provide value and at the same time record more sales. According to research, sales professionals who engage in social selling generate 38% more new leads than those who don’t.
In this article, we break down the concept of social selling; what it means, why you should use it, the best social selling platform for brands and the powerful ways you can use social selling to sell better without pressure.
What is social selling?
Social selling is a low-pressure, friendly means of building engagement and establishing genuine relationships with your leads. It is a means of warming them up for the eventual decision to buy from you. It is a chance to increase customer retention and brand loyalty in the long term.
What social selling is not?
Social selling is not marketing. It is different from digital advertising or social media marketing. It is not about sending spam messages or pushing your clients to buy.
Let’s break it down.
Sales is about generating leads and turning leads into buyers. That is, converting your product or service to revenue. Marketing on the other hand involves communicating with prospects to increase brand awareness, educate buyers and arouse interest in your product or services. Both traditional marketing and digital marketing are done by marketers while social selling is done by salespeople.
Digital Marketing is a form of marketing that involves the use of digital platforms such as social media, websites, blogs to advertise and engage prospects. From this you can deduce that social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves advertising, building awareness and educating prospects using social media networks. Digital marketing can be done organically or through paid ads.
Traditional marketing involves the use of non-digital means such as billboards, posters, magazines, trade shows, telemarketing, tradeshows and exhibitions to achieve marketing objectives and brand goals.
Social selling is about nurturing before selling. It involves leveraging social media channels to interact directly with targeted leads using value-based contents to address their pain points and eventually convert to sales.
Buyers today are more sophisticated and expect to make guided decisions. That is, decisions they are convinced are right for them. They expect not to be sold based on a sales pitch. They want to conduct their research and buy products that are personal and provide value. 56% of customers who use social media to interact with a brand feel a stronger connection with it.
Unlike traditional marketing and sales approaches that are rather focused on sales without engagement with customers, social selling uses social marketing to build relationships and engage prospects for sales without actually selling to them. With social selling, you demonstrate how your solutions can make your prospects’ lives easier and engender strong loyalty in their minds. When properly executed, a potential customer will tend to choose your product or service when they’re ready to make a purchase.
Also, telemarketing is intrusive by nature and can be quite obnoxious. Social selling helps you to build trust with a client over some time. Also, your ideal customers, especially B2B buyers trust recommendations from industry experts and reviews from their peers above ads and they expect a seamless buying experience. With social selling, you can enjoy free referrals and social proof that you are trustworthy.
Why is Social Selling Important?
1. Social selling is more effective
In comparison with other traditional sales channels, social selling can be more effective if used in the right way.
- 90% of top B2B decision-makers acknowledge that they ignore cold calls, rather they use social media to influence their decision-making process.
- According to research from Hubspot, there is a 5% increase in win rate and a 35% rise in deal size when salespeople adopt social selling.
And according to LinkedIn:
- Top social sellers record 45% more sales opportunities than those with a low social selling index.
- Sales professionals and brands that prioritize social selling have 51% assurance of reaching their sales goals.
- 78% of businesses that use social selling sell more than those that don’t.
2. Social Selling Helps you build Relationships.
Through authentic, timely and valuable content, you are able to have genuine relationships with your prospects. Over 80% of B2B buyers say that relevant social media content influences their buying decisions.
Also, many users use social media for brand research. Using social listening you can identify what your target audience is already saying about your industry and competitors. This helps you to reach out to prospects who are readily interested in your offering by genuinely connecting with them with useful information that solves their queries and builds trust.
3. Social selling is Easier and Cheaper
One amazing and beneficial thing about social selling is its ease. Unlike the dreaded cold calling or stressful trade fairs, social selling is cheaper. Most of your social selling activities are free and would ideally require less of your time to be successful although it might take a while for the success to reflect in terms of sales.
In addition, not only are your customers already participating in social selling, your competitors are too and are already recording more profit than you.
Which Platform is Best for Social Selling?
For B2C businesses, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can be ideal platforms to leverage for social selling.
But for B2B brands, LinkedIn is the ideal and most used platform to identify and reach key business decision-makers. According to LinkedIn, 89% of B2B salespersons use LinkedIn to generate leads.
Powerful Steps To Use Social Selling To Sell Better Without Pressure.
Before embarking on social selling, the basic most important thing to do is to identify your target audience and business goals. This enables you to develop a strategy that resonates with your audience.
Having done that, here are 6 ways to put yourself in front of your next client without pressure.
- Establish A Strong Personal Brand
A strong professional brand is essential for low-pressure selling. This is because people purchase from those that they know, like, and trust. A strong personal brand helps you build that familiarity, trust and likability. Also, it is a means of getting in front of buyers and staying top of mind.
Your LinkedIn profile is the first step to creating a good personal brand. A complete profile with professional pictures, well-crafted headlines and descriptions crafted as value propositions is how you make your first impression on LinkedIn.
Then publishing valuable, shareable, relevant and interesting contents for your audience and how often you engage on trending topics play a crucial part in brand building. As a B2B brand or corporate influencer on LinkedIn, you could share content written by others that is relevant to your brand or personally write those contents. With this, you’re showing your prospect that you have value to give not just that you want to milk them dry.
- Build your network and Credibility
The overused axiom— your network is your net worth—can’t be more truthful with your LinkedIn connection. Your network increases your reach and gets you in front of your customers.
For newbies on LinkedIn connecting with people that you already know in real life is a good way to start building your network. Then you can use LinkedIn’s search feature to widen your network. You can also identify new people to send personalised invitations to. Make sure your invitations carry a value proposition or a good conversation starter that isn’t intrusive or pushy.
Your network needs to find you credible by gaining value from connecting with you. To strengthen your credibility, you can offer value by:
- Answering queries,
- Offering key insights,
- making suggestions,
- sharing free educational materials
- Host webinars
- Create white papers
- Or write a book
You can also use employee advocacy to build your credibility and increase your reach.
With these, you position yourself as a thought leader in the industry which makes you attract ideal clients without pressure. When your network recognizes you as a worthy professional, they can give you recommendations that solidify your credibility.
- Practice Social Listening
Listening is not just engaging with comments and replying to questions. Social listening involves paying attention to what people are saying about your brand, competitors, and industry on social platforms. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, only 24% of brands admit that they practice “social listening”.
With social listening, you can find relevant conversations, engage buyers, and develop genuine relationships with prospects. In addition, you can also discover new leads, and figure out your target audiences’ crucial pain points, and use the insights to tailor social selling strategy in a way that appeals to them. Social selling is also effective in controlling brand reputation.
- Join Relevant Social Conversations
Sales professionals can get in front of clients faster when they position themselves in the places where clients are researching buying decisions. Joining or creating a LinkedIn group relevant to your industry is the ideal location for that. Here your prospects come to ask questions and gather the information that influences their decisions. You can therefore position yourself as the thought leader by sharing relevant contents (personal/company or third party contents) that move your prospects gradually through your sales pipeline.
- Prioritize Nurturing over Selling
Social selling is about building and nurturing relationships. By nurturing you are not pushing your prospects to make decisions, rather you’re guiding them to see value in the decision they’re making. As such, you should prioritise building a relationship that attracts your prospects to buy from you.
Liking a prospect’s post, and commenting can help you create a positive impression. But you want to do this with authenticity by interacting like an actual woman to build a rapport that can lead to conversion or referral or both. Also, sending personalised messages consisting of valuable content is an effective way to nurture leads.
- Track Your Results
According to Forbes, only 15% of social sellers know how to quantify their social selling success. This is because most sales professionals focus on the wrong metrics. Focusing on the wrong metrics of success is just as bad as not tracking at all.
As established, social selling is about building relationships with clients and key decision-makers in your industry to leverage those relationships for brand awareness and conversion. As such, every step taken through the selling process can offer valuable insights in tracking your results. LinkedIn SSI is an effective tool to measure your social selling performance on the platform.
By tracking your results, you can figure out high-performing strategies and underperforming approaches to come up with better solutions that help you achieve your sales goals with social selling.
Social Selling Tools to help you Achieve Success
Sales Navigator is a LinkedIn Premium offer. It is an important intelligence investment for sales professionals in the B2B industry. Its unique features such as; InMail credits, help to unlock the full potentials of LinkedIn for salespersons to achieve more results easily.
LinkedIn Social Selling Index
Social Selling Index is a free metric that measures your social selling performance on LinkedIn to give you an insight into what’s working and what’s not. This evaluation is based on four key aspects that include:
- Establish your brand
- Find the right people
- Engage with insights
- Build relationships
This selling tool is essential to evaluate the success of your social selling and guide future planning.
Hootsuite is a popular tool effective for managing your communication on social media. You can use the tool to monitor, organize and respond to both private and public messages. It helps you ensure that everyone who connects with you is not left out. It is also useful for social listening. With Hootsuite, you can keep track of your prospects’ conversations about your brand and industry.
Employee Advocacy Tools (Amplify and Bambu).
Amplify is an effective employee app that can be integrated with Hootsuite. It helps you increase brand visibility by making it easy for employees to shade company content. Another employee advocacy tool is Bambu which provides a simplified employee advocacy system, where team members can see and share the latest content seamlessly. It has a leaderboard that challenges employees to share content consistently.
These tools allow you to leverage your employees’ networks to generate more leads.
This is an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that tracks lead activity. It tool allows sales engineers to organize leads and your relationship with them.
With Salesforce you can profile each customer according to where they are in your sales pipeline and activate basic data like their location, company size, and revenue. This can help you create targeted content for social selling.
Unlike traditional sales strategy, social selling helps build relationships that establish trust and repeat conversion without having to pressure your clients. It is a pull strategy that attracts and sells without being sales. With social selling, you can shorten the sales cycle, increase referrals, convert prospects into leads faster and create broader awareness of your brand and its values.