Social selling is an essential sales tool for lead nurturing and generation.
In today’s hyper-digitalized era, people no longer rely on salespeople for product or service information; their first source is… you guessed it, the internet.
A quick search on a smartphone or tablet opens people up to new possibilities and ideas, and as a result, today’s consumer is more educated and empowered to make the right choice.
To provide positive and negative feedback alike, people now readily use the internet and in particular, social media sites, to not just voice their concerns (and appreciation), but also to get assistance, and engage with brands. So, it’s no surprise that companies are becoming increasingly active on social media as:
50% of companies have interacted with brands on social media - Hootsuite
In recent years, many companies were quick to join the bandwagon and start posting regular content on social media.
However, many companies do still not actively view social media as a tool for selling.
Just 1 in 4 salespeople know how to use social media to sell - Hubspot
Yet 61% of companies who engaged with social selling reportedly saw a positive impact on growth - Sales for Life
Social selling can be described as the process of using a social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and finally, achieve your sales goals.
But how should you approach social selling and how can it best be rolled out and implemented in your sales strategy? Here are our top tips for success:
Embrace Social Selling as a Concept
Social selling may seem like an alien methodology at first, particularly to salespeople who do not yet understand its power to connect with prospects. To help them overcome this, communicate its value and explain its importance to your team. Instill a culture of lead nurturing via social media as part of their work day, be consistent with your messaging and openly embrace it as a concept. One good way to begin is to make sure sales directors and C-suite positions lead by example by making sure their profiles are up-to-date and that they are regularly posting useful and relevant content.
Announcing the launch of your social selling strategy and its importance to inbound sales will show you are committed and consider it to be a serious revenue-generation stream.
Train the Team
Simply making your staff aware of your social selling plans and encouraging them to ‘just do it’ will not have any impact unless you teach them what to do and how to do it. Initiate a thorough training program to educate them on the basics of social selling - covering benefits and features, how to share quality content and attract leads, how to update their personal profiles to stand out from the crowd etc.
A good place to begin is to use the wealth of online resources already available on the subject. Look up social selling strategies and tips on LinkedIn for a host of eBooks, white papers and webinars. You could sign up your team to informative newsletters or have them subscribe to video channels; you could even bring in a social selling expert to share tips and best practices.
Include Social Selling in Your Inbound Sales Straetgy
To integrate social media selling into your daily sales process, ensure members of your sales team allocate a set number of hours a day to review social media activity, post great content, connect/message relevant leads/prospects etc. Larger organizations with the capacity to do so, could hire a dedicated social selling manager
Set metrics so that your sales team have something to work towards.This will encourage them to take social media seriously and make efforts to hit targets. Some reasonable targets according to your team’s capabilities could be: connections, messages, appointments made and content shared. You could even offer incentives such as attractive quarterly bonuses, free movie tickets, a meal for two for the rep who has made the most progress.
At your weekly sales meeting, encourage team members to share their experiences and efforts, be it success stories, opportunities or best practices. The more you talk about it and give your team the right resources to learn, the easier it will be to get into the habit of social selling.
Utilize Content Marketing
Since sharing (and engaging with) powerful and relevant content lies at the heart of social media sales, the sales department could work with the content/marketing team who can help with crafting and distributing content - blogs, videos, infographics, think pieces or press releases, which you can repurpose to share and connect with prospects. Coordinating with the marketing team on new campaigns, promotions and product launches is an effective way of strengthening your presence on social media and will ensure you are in-line with the company’s social media strategy.
However, keep in mind that your audience will not appreciate a ‘hard sell’ approach, so don’t share content which is irrelevant and self-promotional as it may not yield favourable results.
How do you track social selling efforts to make sure that time spent is not just wasted effort?
There are several tools available today that can monitor and assess how your sales rep is doing on social media. Think LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index and Klout. For a big picture view, you can also link the company’s social media accounts to their CRM to view connections, interactions, engagement and how many leads, prospects and customers are coming from social media.
It can take a significant amount of time and consistency for your social media activities to translate to meaningful contacts, growth and sales. Once social selling becomes routines and is embedded within the sales culture of the organization, sales leaders will be in a better position to track the relationship between social networking and sales.
The Way Forward
While it can take a lot of time and persistence to succeed, there is no denying that engaging with social selling is not just an option, but the required thing to do.
Once you make the decision to dive into the world of social media sales, and train and teach your team to use resources at hand tactfully, your sales team can efficiently use social media to target your buyer personas, leading to high quality prospects, an increased number of closed deals and higher revenue.