Social selling has become the ‘it’ trend of B2B digital selling. Cold calling is no longer enough when trying to approach the modern B2B buyer as 90% of B2B decision makers never answer a cold call. Social media is the new marketplace of B2B business.
Forrester recently surveyed 265 sales and marketing leaders and found that 49% of B2B companies have developed a formal social selling program, while 28% of those surveyed are in the process of doing so.
While you may have heard of social selling it is important that you understand what it is. Social selling is the utilization of social networks to find, interact with, and grow an understanding of prospects. It is a platform for your business to raise brand awareness while also nurturing your potential leads and gaining an understanding of their interests and needs.
Today, plenty of businesses have a company Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter page, while many even have all three. With 75% of B2B buyers using social media to make purchasing decisions, it is time to turn your professional business page into a lead generation tool.
The golden rules
Kevin Ryan, head of marketing for LinkedIn’s Sales Solutions business in EMEA, suggests three golden rules of social selling:
1. Establish a strong professional brand
Your professional social media page is often the first impression that prospects get of your business. Identifying who your target audience is and what their expectations are can help to tailor your social media pages to reflect what your prospects want. Understanding your prospects’ expectations can aid in implementing a content sharing strategy that will appeal to their interests and drive traffic beyond your social media pages and to your web page.
2. Find the right contacts
Social media affords us with the opportunity to make connections with individuals that are not present in our every-day social circles. Social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to identify if you have any mutual ‘connections’ or ‘friends’ with that hot lead you’ve had your eye on. Using these connections to approach prospects can kick-start the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
3. Pick your moment
“Good things come to those who wait.” We’ve all heard this saying and it definitely applies in the world of social selling. Although a prospect has accepted your invitation to connect or accepted your friend request it does not give you an invitation to start sending them sales pitches.
Now that you are connected via your social networks the content which you share will be seen by the prospect and vice versa. Understanding your prospects and their interests is vital to laying the groundwork for your B2B relationship by sharing the right content. Being connected with prospects via social media also means you can see what they are sharing. This helps to further develop your understanding of the prospect’s interests while also affording you the opportunity to ‘comment’ on their activity and opening up communication.
What not to do
The biggest no-no in social selling is jumping the gun with the hard sell. Don’t immediately contact every prospect you connect with on social media and particularly don’t do so with a sales pitch. Sending unsolicited messages or tweets and bombarding your prospects with spam will turn these potential opportunities sour.
If the age old “but everybody else is doing it” argument isn’t going to persuade you to implement a social selling program into your digital selling strategy then perhaps these facts and figures will do the trick.
A recent survey by CSO Insights and Seismic revealed that a third of B2B professionals found that social selling tools increased the number of leads they had to work with. Social selling tools also reduced the amount of time spent researching accounts and contacts for 39% of respondents.
Social selling helps to increase the number of closed deals. 40% of salespeople have closed 2-5 deals per year as a result of social selling. While 78% of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process outsell their peers.
The relationships between you and your prospects can be improved using social selling. CSO Insights and Seismic revealed that 31% of B2B professionals felt that social selling enabled them to build better relationships with their customers.
A good relationship between you and your prospects builds trust. If your customers trust you and your services there is a greater likelihood of a referral. Referrals are an indication of satisfied customers and can be important for lead generation. It has been shown that 84% of B2B buyers start their buying journey with a referral.
Using the three golden rules outlined above can help you to build meaningful relationships with your prospects. Just developing a relationship with your current customers is no longer enough in the world of digital selling. Building a rapport with prospects builds trust which can result in a greater rate of lead conversions.