Dec 11, 2018
As the way we interact with our world changes, so do the habits of consumers. The Internet changed the game by providing users with instantly accessible information.
Twenty years ago we relied on analogue methods, such as telephone calls and word-of-mouth research to inform buying decisions. Now, we lean heavily on digital spaces, which can provide detailed specifications, prices and customer reviews.
Buying habits are evolving, and selling behaviours are following suit. The latest and greatest technique for engaging consumers is via social selling. It's a way for marketers to leverage social networks to create new connections, find more leads and nurture prospects. Social selling drives potential consumers into your digital selling machine.
So, how compelling is social selling when it comes to sales? We've collected some facts below to give you an idea of its impact on the digital marketplace.
Social selling is based on building a relationship with consumers before they purchase your product or service. It's about establishing yourself as a reliable source of information, not only about what you're selling but also industry news, trends and general consumer education. Make your presence known within these circles by taking a thought-leadership role. Identify and attract prospects with engaging content.
Those who lead the social selling game generate more sales and get better results overall. Social selling leaders can attract 45% more business opportunities than peers who don't engage in the same level of activity. They're also 51% more likely to reach quotas. Social sellers outsell peers who aren't on social media 78% of the time, according to LinkedIn.
Companies that are dedicated and consistent with their social selling processes are 40% more likely to hit revenue goals than non-social sellers. By creating a steady flow of relevant and helpful content for your audience, especially on the social media platforms they engage with most, you're able to stay connected with potential buyers throughout the sales cycle. This can make the sales process, along with the decision to purchase, much easier.
It can also influence decisions by those who might be on the outside seeking products and services. Consistency and connection don't go unnoticed by consumers. If you display a steady stream of social media engagement, it could extend your reach to new audiences and expand your prospect pool.
Social media cuts both ways between buyers and sellers. It gives consumers better access to information about the companies they research, but can also provide companies with in-depth and personal information about consumers. Social media was designed by nature for people to learn more about one another.
Depending on a user's sharing and privacy settings, it's possible to learn a person's interests without even talking with them. Social sellers can learn about a prospect's hobbies, favourite media, the school they attended and what networks they're active in. This information can give you an insight into somebody you want to connect with and perhaps provide a basis from which to build a relationship.
A study of the top 100 brands showed virtually all of them have a presence on social media. They all had at least one YouTube channel, while 98% were on Twitter, 96% on Facebook, and 85% were on Instagram. It's a reflection of how valuable it is to have a company's face on social networks.
Furthermore, among those brands, 42 had CMOs or high-level marketing executives with Twitter accounts, but only 31 were active. Just six brands at the time of the study had CMOs with 10,000 or more followers. Essentially, there's a lot of fertile ground available for you to plant your social selling seeds.
Buyers feel more comfortable doing business with companies that appear knowledgeable and credible. Who can blame them? If you show confidence in yourself as an authority on your industry and share your wisdom with your prospects and followers, it can go a long way towards building your brand and establishing leadership status.
This is what social selling is all about. Even if they're not engaging with thought leaders, buyers at the very least are following their activity. Social selling helps set you up as an authority in your field who can provide insight and information to help others grow their business. By putting yourself out there, you can grab the attention of more buyers and establish more connections.
For many people, checking in on social media has become routine. We read Facebook posts for updates on our family and friends, Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and YouTube for entertainment and instructional videos.
Even those who aren't heavy users likely access one of these platforms daily. In fact, as far as normal human activity goes, the average time spent on social media comes only second to watching television.
As for marketing, social selling is designed to attract buyers at all points of the customer journey, from the early stages of research until the time of purchase. According to research, 33% of users prefer to contact brands through social media rather than by telephone. You must make your company accessible on these platforms, and you must have a communications strategy in place and be comfortable answering inquiries in this medium. The ability to align your sales process with social selling is crucial to increasing sales.
Information gathering is important to both buyers and sellers. It informs decision-making, creates better relationships and leads to faster sales. Good research can help consumers make the right decisions, while giving companies an opportunity to tailor their message in order to meet prospects' requirements.
More and more, social media is being tapped as a resource for this type of data, and it's incumbent upon sellers to create an online presence to allow for this exchange.
Even big-time executives pay attention to social media. Studies have shown that 84% of C-level executives, which means those with “Chief” in their titles such as CEOs and COOs, use social media to make purchasing choices. Given this data, it's clear that potential prospects and interested buyers are doing a significant amount of research on social media. Take advantage of this information.
One of the greatest features with the evolution of the digital age is the advent of electronic communication. Messages can be sent and received instantly and in high volumes. This means you can get a notice across quickly to a great number of people.
Unfortunately, due to the rise of digital selling, this method of reaching out to customers has had a quite negative effect. Prospects and customers are inundated with texts and emails every day, and they're doing more ignoring than responding. In fact, 38% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is becoming harder.
Thankfully, this is a problem good social selling can potentially address. Instead of trying to break through the clutter of an inbox and stand out among hundreds or thousands of messages, being active and engaging on platforms can be an escape from the chaos. Many users log on to social media to be entertained, educated and make purchases. Social selling can captivate prospects and buyers during moments when they're ready to do business.
An analysis by LinkedIn of 14 common industries - including computer software, healthcare and marketing and advertising - indicated more than half of their revenue being influenced by the platform's own social selling tool. Such numbers might be expected from industries related to technology and marketing, but others related to education and financing also saw strong growth.
The story here is more about what the study doesn't show you. Social selling had a positive impact across the board. The sample size was small, but if social selling can help a small handful of non-tech industries, it's also likely to affect many others. It gives salespeople more evidence that social selling can help any business, regardless of industry. There's no reason for any company to dismiss it as a valid marketing tactic.
Even if you're late to the party, there's still time for you to take a leading role when it comes to social selling. Although 61% of organizations involved in social selling report a positive impact on revenue growth, 72% of sales professionals feel they're not proficient at it.
Since it's still a relatively fresh concept, you have a chance to leapfrog the field and master the craft. It may pay off in the end if you put significant time and energy into learning and establishing good social selling behaviors.
Social selling is a powerful marketing strategy that can lead to significant revenue gains. Establishing yourself as an authority on your industry through digital marketing or simply leveraging your social network into a new business can have a big impact on the sales process. Incorporating social selling into your marketing strategy helps you gain influence and credibility, which can result in more connections, leads and ultimately sales.
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