Most digital marketers know that social media is a crucial part of an ad campaign and that, when it comes to sales conversions, social media is certainly useful. But exactly how useful is social when it comes to selling strategies?
According to a Slideshare by A Sales Guy Consulting, over 50% of salespeople linked their social back to a sale, and over 70% of salespeople who use social media claim to have better results than their colleagues.
So, what is it that you have to do to make digital and social selling work (better) for sales? Read on for more information on how to make social work for your business.
What is Social Selling?
Whereas the old sales trifecta was more about demos, cold calls and leads, the now sales strategy is more about educating and engaging, which is why social is a crucial component of any digital sales strategy today.
Social selling is not just about popping up a cute photo on Facebook and generating a lot of “likes” or saying something witty on Twitter; it’s imperative that social selling happens strategically in both B2B and B2C spaces, and that it’s used at different phases of the customer journey.
Social can be used not only to capture cold leads and build a following, but to engage with interested parties by, for instance, answering questions about products, sharing demo videos and engaging in public discussions in real-time.
Content Marketing is Key to Social Selling
Your social content will be part of your overall marketing strategy and to this end you’re going to want to ensure that it’s all inline and on brand. But content is, by nature, non-advertorial, so to this end it won’t be “doing” the converting, unlike, say, a long-form sales page selling a course.
With content (and social) you’re not “pitching” to your audience, nor are you creating an ad. You are having a real conversation with them that allows them to understand you and see specific value.
The Sales Funnel
So, if content and social are at the top of the sales funnel – that is, the widest part that’s focused on engagement, how can they be used to actually sell? Here’s a breakdown of various ways digital marketing professionals can use social to help move traffic at each phase.
At this part of the funnel, you’re checking out who is interested out of your broader audience. You’re going to be capturing leads based on social interaction, as well as engagement on blog posts and articles.
In the middle of your sales funnel, you’ll want to focus on providing customers with value that goes beyond just basic education and information like at the top. You will still be offering top-level, lead-generating content, but here you’ll be offering more detailed information and start to show them offerings that can lead them to a purchase.
This point is key not only in generating interest but actually gaining their trust so that they feel confident about making a purchase.
In the last phase of the sales funnel your customer will be making their purchase and in this process, will be sending you more crucial information about whether or not they will be returning, what their preferences are, and so on. Your goal here is not just to close the deal, but to cross-sell, upsell or offer them another incentive to come back.
The Customer Journey
Your sales funnel is really a representation of the customer or buyer’s journey. Typically, this process used to be fairly linear, but today it can get fragmented among many social channels, which is why tracking it can be quite difficult.
As you choose a platform that supports your goals and business aims, you’ll want to also pay attention to what’s going on with other businesses in your industry if possible. You will also want to find ways to offer your product or service in a more direct way than the traditional channels which usually involves the customer going to your website (or a seller like Amazon).
This is one way in which social selling has evolved in recent years – whereas before people would not typically use social platforms directly for purchasing activities, there’s more and more opportunity for direct interactions rather than having to go through a sales department or third party.
Use the Right Platform
Social selling is a bit of a tricky thing because social by nature is on the front end of the sales funnel, at the conversion end. In this, it’s more about audience engagement and relationship building than actual conversions.
The success of your sales not only depends on your specific strategy but how well your business ties in with a specific platform. You need to know why the users are on the platform in the first place in order to understand whether your service or product will catch their eye. Pinterest is great for recipes and fashion, and LinkedIn works well for lead generation in professional and educational training.
There are also plenty of tools you can use to help you build your following on your favored platform. Consider using a tool like Followerwonk to help you build your followers on Twitter or SocialDrift to find more people via Instagram.
Use Social to Connect with Influencers and Referrals
Following popular influencers in digital marketing and in a given field is important if you want to build a following for your business. You may even consider engaging with them in the interest of posting a guest blog or partnering.
Referrals are another way that social can help people connect on a B2B level, and LinkedIn is a perfect example of this. You can easily ask a mutual connection about professional leads and prospects, for instance, via the “mutual connections” feature on LinkedIn.
Social is perfect for connecting with others in the same field as you whether you’re looking for clients in a B2B sphere or you’re looking for customers in the B2C space. The idea is to actually engage your social so that you’re following people that are genuinely interested in your service or product.
Social Selling Metrics
It’s important that you keep track of quantitative statistics and results to continuously improve your social selling strategy, but bear in mind that some of these will not be explicitly linked to sales – this will be more about tracking leads and following traffic patterns than (necessarily) looking at conversion-based metrics.
Key areas you’ll want to address as far as social metrics go include email list traffic patterns and sign-ups and the number of times videos were watched on various channels.
There are plenty of tools and strategies out there to help you organize, track and manage your social selling. One is LinkedIn’s social selling index which can help B2B marketers understand how well they’re doing with engagement and branding. Google Analytics can also help you uncover traffic sources to help give you a clue as to how much various channels are bringing people to landing pages and the like. And of course, social marketing and scheduling tools like HootSuite can go a long way when it comes to tracking social metrics.
Make it Personal
One way that social media and other content stand out in comparison to traditional advertising is that there are plenty of opportunities to personalize. Some examples include:
- Using messenger-based chatbots to offer a customized shopping experience
- Independent entrepreneurs who use their personal experiences to build their brand story
- Influencers who use their personal social accounts and large followings to promote their favorite brands
- Using Facebook Live to deliver regular broadcasts of day-to-day business activities and special events
The key here is that authenticity goes a long way towards engagement and while this may have been true in only a few niches some years back, its proving more and more important in terms of building overall trust as well as expertise.
To put it bluntly, people are more likely to make a purchase if they see a face they can trust. But not only the face – the whole idea is to use social media to talk about what you’re doing on a regular basis. Social media offers so many opportunities to showcase new marketing initiatives, partnerships, events and activities.
Can Social Selling Grow Any Business?
Digital and social selling is and should be part of a company’s ongoing sales and marketing strategy and to that end will grow and evolve with the company and their business goals. It may feel a little bit challenging to build followers and leads this way at first but there’s certainly room for everyone out there – all you need to do is be a little innovative and you’re bound to reap the rewards!