Social selling is often mistaken for social media marketing (SMM) or social media advertising (SMA); however, each style of leveraging social media for your business is distinct from the others.
While we have nothing against SMM or SMA, there’s something about social selling that has the power to hit potential customers a bit differently — in a good way.
We decided it was worth explaining the in-depth details of social selling to help B2Bs like yours earn more business in the online space.
What exactly is social media selling?
We like to overcomplicate things in the digital world, but the definition of b2b social selling is actually very simple. It’s when a business uses its social media channels to form direct connections with cold prospects.
These potential customers have not entered into your funnel yet — similar to potential customers on a cold call list — but through social media, a true opportunity exists to skip the awkward, rushed phone introduction (all the while crossing your fingers they don’t hang up on you) and instead form a connection through engagement.
Think of it like online dating. A prospect likes the message you sent? They reply. A prospect feels the ick factor? Message ignored — but without the weirdness.
Why does social selling work?
Today’s buyers are savvy investors and they rarely, if ever, enter purchasing decisions blind. Modern buyers are not getting their information from some smooth-talking salesperson interested less in someone’s problem and more in closing a deal.
Instead, potential buyers are doing their own research, coming into conversations armed with knowledge obtained from blogs, YouTube videos, podcasts, whitepapers, and even social media. In fact, 84% of C-Level executives use social media to make purchasing choices.
Also, you can trust that potential purchasers have done their research on you (and your company) prior to replying to your message.
Social media selling works because it offers potential buyers the knowledge and education they’re already seeking. It gives them access to someone (you) who is clearly knowledgeable on the topic and can answer any questions they have along their path of learning and general position in the buyer's journey. This helps you build a unique connection that fosters brand loyalty and builds trust long before the actual first meeting begins.
How can B2B sales benefit from social selling?
When social media first entered the scene, it was merely a way to keep in touch with friends and family. The medium rapidly evolved from the tech next door to the tech no one can stop talking about. Used now to connect, market, advertise, and sell — and with an estimated 4 billion people using some form of social media by 2025 — salespeople would be wise to look into social media as an option for boosting their sales.
While the internet has been great in some ways, there is no denying that it also removed the power of a sale from the hands of a salesperson and placed it firmly into the hands of the purchaser. Needless to say, this has impacted bottom lines across the board as businesses have scrambled to come up with new goals and metrics that suit their more passive roles.
B2B sales can benefit from social selling because it returns power back to the salespeople by getting them involved much earlier in the sales cycle. In fact, social sellers are 51% more likely to achieve sales quotas.
Why is social selling important?
Once upon a sale, phone calls were how business got done. Today, it takes an average of 18 attempts to connect and convert a lead into a qualified opportunity. Imagine the salesperson who picks up a phone, dials, converses about personal details to warm up a lead, reminds the prospect about products and services, and exits the conversation — 18 times per sale! That is a lot of time to spend on a single person, let alone the dozens of leads salespeople should theoretically be connecting with every week.
Enter B2B social selling. It’s one of the more radical shifts to occur within the sales model in the last 50 years and it seems to be the shakeup that the industry needed. In fact, 31% of B2B professionals say that social selling is what has allowed them to build deeper relationships with their clients while 39% of B2B professionals said social selling reduced the amount of time they had to spend researching potential leads.
For salespeople who may not have a lot of success with more traditional tactics like calls or for newer salespeople who are still learning the ropes and trying to gain a foothold with their goals, social selling is an important opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Coming to understand this unusual but productive form of selling and adding it to the toolbelt of sales tactics can totally change the trajectory of a department’s goals — for the better.
How do I start social selling?
Now that you understand more about social selling, it’s time to implement the new selling strategy. In terms of social media channels, LinkedIn is definitely the place to start, as nearly 92% of professionals in all industries believe that LinkedIn is changing their marketing strategy.
If you don’t already use this platform (or if you use it but haven’t been overly active) then you'll want to begin by boosting your personal brand with a completed LinkedIn profile. Letting people know who you are and the kind of customers you support through your products and services is key to social media selling success.
Once your profile is designed to attract your ideal prospects, begin your search. Start by joining various groups that make sense for your product or service so you can make connections with the right people on LinkedIn. You can also use the search feature the same way you might use Google to proactively search for people that you can connect with. For instance, if you sell medical machinery, you might search for “medical machinery referrals” or “medical machinery recommendations” using the search function.
Don’t forget to also use your own profile to share valuable content to your newsfeed, just as you might with a site like Facebook. From posting articles that are relevant to your line of work to asking questions about your industry, or even commenting on someone’s post that is relevant to your line of work, you may catch the eye of someone looking for exactly what you offer.
Finally, knowing your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) can help you grow your success with social selling. According to LinkedIn, social sellers create 45% more opportunities than peers with a lower SSI score while 51% are more likely to achieve quota and outsell peers who don’t use social media.
Are you ready to start expanding your reach through social media and increase your sales?
We can help! Set up your free consultation with Peer Sales Agency now.