Social selling is essentially the next iteration of cold calling. Except with social networks, there are fewer gatekeepers to get through, and the abundance of data available throughout the process makes it easier to identify valuable prospects and improve conversion rates.
By leveraging social media to interact with prospects directly, social selling is proven to drive new leads, foster relationships, and improve overall productivity.
In this article, we explore 8 social selling techniques that sales leaders can nurture in their team can use to drive sales success.
1. Focus on personal branding
A personal brand is the technique of crafting the impression your sellers want to give to others about your business. It’s a way to stand out from other, more generic, competitors in your vertical.
In the book ‘Be Your Own Brand’ written by David McNally and Karl Speak, the two marketers define a personal brand as "a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you."
For example, real-estate mogul and current President of the United States, Donald Trump uses his last name on his buildings and various products as a personal branding method (i.e.Trump Tower, Trump Steaks, Trump Hotels).
At one time, these brands were synonymous with luxury, which was the personal brand Trump sought.
In another example, contact center Nice In Contact recently experimented with personal branding. The organization trained select salespeople to use LinkedIn for social selling techniques like sharing content and engaging with potential customers under a personal brand.
The company then compared the success of their social selling push against other sales groups that were not active on social media.
After 6 months of experimenting, the brand found that the sales reps who were using LinkedIn to cultivate a brand increased the revenue per sale by 122%.
2. Adopt Social Listening
By now, most companies understand the reach of social media and the importance of having a presence online. When done well, social media can be used to generate leads and create new interactions. Actually, 54% of B2B marketers said they have generated leads from social media.
Having a presence is only part of the equation. Listening to what your customers are saying— with careful ears— is another part. But, only 24% of brands say they actually practice “social listening”.
Social listening is more than just replying to comments or questions about your brand or product, it is the process of taking the time to explore what customers are talking about on social media platforms in order to tailor messaging to their pain points and provide solutions.
More specifically, social listening provides brands with the opportunity to:
- Create a unique and customized customer experience
- Control brand reputation by addressing negative and positive comments
- See what products are resonating with a customer
- Hear the opinions of influencers in the product space
Social listening is so important, brands like Adobe have dedicated entire teams to the process. Adobe’s social media command center, dubbed the Customer Listening Post, allows the organization to hear the voices of their customers. From there, they use the information to develop new actions that will impact their customers at touchstones throughout their life cycle.
For companies with fewer resources, tools like the social media listener from SEMRush makes it easy for sellers to track social media mentions and take action accordingly.
3. Monitor prospects
There are now a wealth of tools, such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, that help individuals monitor sales prospects.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator allows sellers to import contacts or business information from your Salesforce account into the tool. Then, you can generate a report detailing the LinkedIn activity for individuals in your Salesforce accounts. After analyzing accounts, defined territories, industries, and products the Sales Navigator tool makes recommendations for potential, viable leads.
It’s also possible to get alerts about relevant company changes, like new prospects, job changes and company news alerts.
In one example, SAP discovered that using social selling skills, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator in specific, translated into 32% more revenue and were 10% more likely to achieve quota.
4. Get active on groups
The best way for sales professionals to get in front of customers is to be in the places they are conducting product research. Social media groups are just the location for that and groups are a place for prospects to ask questions, gather information and take next steps.
This also means they are a great source for leads and prospects.
First, your team will need to define what groups your target audience is active in. Popular places to start include:
- Subreddits in your industry
- Facebook groups
- LinkedIn groups
Being in a group relevant to your company's buyer personas helps drive the credibility of your brand and sales team.
Through social media groups, your team can find out what questions your customers are asking, relay content to help them solve their problems and to actively learn and resource the products and services they are specifically asking for.
Remember, customers are doing their research before buying, so by joining social media groups, you are becoming a part of their research phase as a thought-leader versus a salesperson. The lesson here is that promoting company content is important, but third-party (non-salesy) content can show that a that your sellers are not just interested in self-promotion, but also there to provide value.
If your team cannot find a group that meets your needs, that's no necessarily a bad thing but an opportunity. Get your team to start a group that discusses the exact issues that customers face. Departments can then band together to create and curate meaningful content for your prospects and leads.
Not only will your sales team be a thought-leader in the space, they will be THE thought-leader.
5. Align with marketing
When it comes to creating industry-related content, the weight doesn’t have to be entirely on the sales team’s shoulders.
Marketing departments work hard to create high-value marketing collateral that is meant to make it easier for salespeople to do their job. The problem is many organizations experience misalignment between marketing and sales. That is to say, your sellers may not be aware of the arsenal of content the marketing team has.
Through alignment, your sellers can identify collateral that speaks to the pain points of your customers from lead generation to account maintenance. Assets like:
- Custom imagery
- Social posts
One way to streamline this process is through technology like sales enablement tools. These tools make it easy for sales to search for content based on topics, categories, tags, or milestones of a customer journey.
Aligning sales and marketing is more than just an organizational change. It has a direct impact on top-line growth.
Misalignment between sales and marketing is expensive - to the tune of about 10% of revenue per year for B2B companies - HubSpot
6. Social Media for Lead Generation
Social media can be used to attract new leads, assist in closing more deals, and generate extra revenue for a company. According to SproutSocial, revenue increased for 24% of businesses when they utilized social media for lead generation.
Examples of lead generation activities include:
- Facebook Ads
- Google Ads
- Social Media Contests
Additionally, adding call-to-action options on your social media page is a great way to attract new leads. Gold’s Gym, for example, has special tabs added to their Facebook Page specifically for lead generation.
Each new client that clicks “Sign Up” can be counted as a new lead.
This tactic can be very successful and for B2B marketers the most lucrative channels for social media lead generation include:
- 44% have generated leads through LinkedIn
- 39% have done it through Facebook
- 30% found leads through Twitter
7. Tracking Analytics
Marketers can also track the success of social media content using analytics sites like Google Analytics (GA). For example, conversion funnels can be set up to help measure how users are actually moving through your site. You can see how a consumer entered your site, and what their subsequent actions were. For instance:
- Destination: A user visits a specific page
- URL Duration: A user spends a certain amount of time on your site
- Pages/screens per session: A user visits a pre-set number of pages
Major events include:
- Form submissions
- Email list sign-ups
- Resource downloads
These milestones can help your team figure out where leads and revenue are coming from. In addition, it enables visibility on which pieces of content or social posts resonate with your audience the most, and eventually turn leads into business at the highest rates.
By including unique, GA-specific, tracking links within each post on your social media pages to make it easier to track, sort, and analyze content. When these links are combined with UTM tracking and goals, it can provide insight into how social media is impacting revenue.
8. Actively respond to customer complaints
Responding to reviews, both negative and positive, is a proven way to improve sales and revenue. Consider it brand management.
Where word-of-mouth in its traditional form might reach 8-10 people, word-of-mouth in a digital age can reach thousands. And, reviews are a key part of the purchaser’s journey. So, it's crucial that your sales team and business pay attention to them.
Encourage sellers to be proactive and aware of your company's reputation online in order to control the message and turn a negative response into a positive customer experience.
According to a TripAdvisor study, hotels and bed and breakfasts found that by responding to negative reviews online, they received 17% high levels of engagement, and were more 21% more likely to receive booking inquiries as a result.
While having a presence on social may seem like an undertaking for the marketing department, and while there are marketing techniques involved, it’s becoming more important for sales representatives and teams to be fluent and active in the process.
Providing your team with a strong grasp of what’s necessary for social selling will help your bsiness increase leads, prospects and close more deals. More importantly it will empower your sellers to be proactive and solution focused.