Sales teams can use social media to cultivate relationships with potential buyers, a process called social selling.
With the dawn of the social media age and the exponential increase in choices and information available to buyers, we’ve seen a massive shift in the way B2B sales occur. According to the Harvard Business Review, a striking 84% of B2B sales start not with a salesperson, but with a referral.
As outbound sales become decreasingly effective, peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions. So how do we make the shift from outbound sales to this new reality? One of the more popular answers is social media.
It’s likely that your organization has some sort of social media marketing strategy in place. But making full use of these platforms requires a more nuanced, well-rounded strategy than blanket social media marketing. It’s time to introduce the idea of “social selling.”
Social media as a sales tool
In a basic sense, social selling is the strategy of adding social media to the sales professional’s toolbox. This means using social platforms to research, prospect, and network by sharing curated educational content and answering questions. The key is building relationships until prospects are ready to buy.
So what’s the difference between social media marketing and social selling, and why is it important? While both are necessary to an integrated marketing and sales strategy, the former is about engaging many — with the goal of increasing brand awareness or promoting a specific product — by producing content that users will ideally share with their networks.
Meanwhile, social selling means producing focused content, and providing personal communication between the salesperson and the buyer. Again, the key is building and cultivating a relationship using social media platforms.
How to start social selling
The benefits of social selling are numerous and significant. For example, according to a LinkedIn survey, B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry. Social media is a powerful engagement tool, giving sales people a platform for sharing these insights.
Here are some steps your sales team can take to implement social selling.
1) Put it in your calendar.
Allot a small portion of your day for social media. It doesn’t take a big time investment to reap the benefits of regular interaction with your prospects.
2) Integrate sales and marketing.
Encourage collaboration between sales and social marketing departments, to make the most of both efforts. HBR suggests that “marketing can train salespeople in social media systems, processes, and best practices.” In addition, sales and marketing should be regularly sharing information to make sure their goals are aligned, and efforts are dovetailing. According to a study by Data Room and Marketo, “sales and marketing alignment can improve sales efforts at closing deals by 67% and help marketing generate 209% more value from their efforts.”
3) Prioritize relationship-building.
Focus your business’ ongoing efforts to building and cultivating quality relationships with prospects. This means building in time every day for personal communication. Make your prospects’ needs your priority.
The bottom line here is building and maintaining relationships. Social media — and social selling — are powerful tools for doing just that.
- Need Leads? Try Social Prospecting
- Most B2B Buyers Use Social Media in their Research
- Why 88% of B2B Marketers Use Social Media