Social selling directly impacts sales.
According to research from Hubspot, when salespeople adopt social selling at an organization, the win rate, and deal size, rises by 5% and 35% respectively.
A recent B2B buyer survey showed that most senior executives are using social media for business purposes - in fact, the survey found that 83% of executives who choose a vendor on behalf of their company, use social media in their decision-making, and 92% of that segment said that social media influenced a purchasing decision within the previous year.
As is true with most things, the best results come from consistency. Here are eight tasks your sales reps must do to maximize your social selling efforts.
1. Grow Your Personal Brand
Buyers purchase from people that they know, like, and trust. Building a strong personal brand establishes those three factors.
82% of B2B buyers in a survey from Demandbase reported that their decision was greatly impacted by the social content shared by the vendor they selected. Sharing content is a way for salespeople to highlight their personality, and display their strengths. It can also help them to stay top of mind with their connections.
The content that they share can be owned content (that they write or your company provides) or it can be other people’s content (OPC) sourced from credible publishers. Even when sharing OPC, a salesperson should present their own expertise through the commentary included in their social media posts, helping to further build trust and provide value.
2. Join Relevant Social Conversations
Engaging on social media should extend from one’s own posts to those shared by others. B2B decision makers are much more likely to engage with a salesperson who presents new insights about the industry, their business or a problem they're facing.
When looking for conversations to join, it’s essential to consider how one can add value, thereby raising brand awareness.
Here are four places to find discussions to contribute to and get noticed:
Social News Feed – Interact with connections and build relationships.
Social Media Groups (Facebook/LinkedIn) – Groups are a great place to find colleagues and prospects that are not already connections.
Relevant hashtags – Search hashtags related to your product or industry in order to find others posting about related topics.
Influencers – Engaging on posts from influencers enables the user to piggyback on said influencers’ social media reach, and get their name in front of even more people.
3. Social Selling and Prospecting
LinkedIn's search tools are where many social selling experts say the platform shines. On the free version of LinkedIn, you can search an industry term or keyword, and identify three prospects for each post – the publisher, individuals liking the post, and individuals commenting on the post.
Searching through first-degree connections’ connections is another place to find potential customers. Instead of sending a cold InMail, the sales rep can ask their connection for a warm introduction.
Search results can be overwhelming. It’s critical to use the filters and narrow results by location and title per the buyer persona.
Looking at who has viewed the salesperson’s profile, and who's interacting with their posts, is another way to conduct social prospecting.
4. Build a Network and Credibility
LinkedIn is the modern day Rolodex - except it’s a lot easier to pop a person’s name or company name into the search bar than to flip through stacks of business cards.
But just like those stacks of collected business cards, it’s crucial to grow a network on LinkedIn. For those who are new to social selling and LinkedIn, it’s good to start by connecting with people that you know in real life. Urge your team to ask for recommendations to solidify their credibility.
After building up their profile some, salespeople ought to identify at least two new people to send connection requests to every day. The invitations should be personalized, with things like how the salesperson found or met them, something they have in common, and something that the recipient would find valuable, like a relevant blog post.
5. Generate Leads
Generating leads is the heavy hitter in social selling. Sure, it’s great to grow a network and receive engagement on posts, but lead generation can produce actual, measurable ROI.
Sharing gated content or hosting a webinar will enable you to collect leads’ email addresses and start nurturing those relationships.
Social listening is another way to find hot leads, because people often complain and ask questions on social media. These are incredible opportunities to jump in and find out how you can help. Helping may only be in the form of sharing insights, but it can be the start of a business relationship.
6. Nurture Warm Leads
Social media is the perfect setting to nurture warm leads – even those who didn't come through social specifically.
Encourage sales reps to connect with their leads and engage with them regularly. The simple act of liking a prospect’s post creates a positive impression, but if they can share a response, it'll make even more of an impact.
Sending a message with content that will advance the buyer in the sales process is a simple way to nurture warm leads, and keep your salesperson on the buyer’s radar.
Keep in mind that social selling is about growing and nurturing relationships, and although “selling” is part of the title, closing a sale, and attempting to close deals, should be done outside of the social feed and platform.
7. Plan and Schedule Posts
Planning content ahead of time can prevent frustrations later - and it becomes especially important when you consider the value of consistency when it comes to social media posting.
Salespeople need to determine a posting schedule and stick to it. By devoting a set amount of time every week to curate content and write relevant copy, they’ll be prepared for interruptions. Share things that prospects will find valuable - for example, tips, tricks, best practices, behind-the-scenes, FAQs, or highlighting a client’s glowing testimonial.
One of the best tools for this is Bufferapp.
8. Track Results
Even with access to all of the benchmarks and best practices available, it’s a smart idea to analyze your results.
Collecting insights on each type of social selling effort will reveal which are most effective. Successful social sellers review their data and look to answer questions like:
Is there a particular style of post or piece of content that is performing better than others?What time are posts getting the most interactions?Are certain LinkedIn users more receptive?
Find out what’s working, what’s not, and adapt the approach accordingly.
Mobilize your Sales Team on Social Selling
Support the members of your sales teams in their social selling efforts by sharing these eight suggestions.
A version of this post was first published on the Cox Blue blog.