In case you haven’t heard (which we doubt), social selling is big these days. Sales reps and sales teams have been harnessing the power of social media to sell to individuals and companies alike.
Social selling has helped sales reps find and target new prospects, nurture leads, build better relationships with clients, establish better brand awareness and brand image, expand their networks, and close more deals. The numbers don’t lie, as these stats prove:
- Social sellers attract 45% more opportunities than their peers, are 51% more likely to achieve quotas, and outsell their non-social counterparts 78% of the time. (LinkedIn)
- Companies with consistent social selling processes are 40% more likely to hit revenue goals than non-social sellers. (SalesForLife)
- 31% of B2B professionals said that social selling allowed them to build deeper relationships with their clients. (CSO Insights and Seismic)
- 39% of B2B professionals said social selling reduced the amount of time they had to spend researching potential leads while a third said they earned more leads with the strategy, and 31% reported better relationships with clients because of it. (eMarketer)
- 84% of C-Level executives use social media to make purchasing choices. (Bambu)
- 92% of B2B buyers are using social media platforms specifically to engage with thought leaders in their industry. (Bambu)
- 33% of users prefer to contact brands using social media rather than making a phone call. (Bambu)
- Half of revenue is influenced by social selling in 14 common industries, including computer software, healthcare, and marketing and advertising. (LinkedIn)
Now, more than ever, sales reps need to be social selling. But you just can’t do social selling without knowing what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s difficult to “start over” on a professional social media venture so it's best to do it right the first time.
Here are the dos and don’ts in social selling.
1. Build a professional profile
Make sure your profile is appropriate for professional networking and selling. A strong, professional profile is the first impression you will make when you begin connecting with other people. Try these 13 tips for creating a strong social selling profile.
2. Have a social strategy
Strategize on your posts by setting goals. What do you want to post about? What do you want your audience to get from your posts? What do you want to achieve with your posts? Answering these questions will help you when planning your posts.
Having a social strategy also means identifying the industry people and brands you should connect with and your approach to connecting with them. You also need to study the different social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and their “rules” and best practices (e.g. how to build more followers, advertising opportunities, etc.) to optimize them.
3. Provide value
When planning your posts, two words should always guide you: provide value. Providing value means sharing helpful information, insightful advice, useful data, solutions to pain points, and the like. This is a guaranteed way of building your professional image AND expertise—and building up your following.
4. Be authentic
Strategizing may have a downfall: you run the risk of strategizing too much and losing authenticity in your posts. Make sure that your personality still shines through in the way you construct your messages. It’s all in the tone. Maintain a conversational, friendly tone—the kind you use in social conversations.
Brands in particular must maintain this authentic tone. It’s the easiest way to earn the trust and confidence of your target market.
Don’t just be an observer or, worse, a lurker on social media. Engage with your target audience. Share your insights on business posts with intelligent comments. Participate in industry discussions. This is the surest way for people to notice you and your brand. This is also another way to sharpen your professional image—and your company’s too.
Engaging also means listening. Listen to what existing and potential customers are saying about your brand.
Monitor your social media posts and activities. Study which ones generated more activity and engagement. Take note of the posts that people most responded to. Get best practices by tracking your social media performance.
DON’T:1. Pitch and promote often
Don’t talk about your product every chance you get. In fact, don’t focus on talking about what you’re selling. Focus instead on providing value, as mentioned above. Focus on connecting, not selling. Promoting certain events (e.g. a discount) is fine, but don’t make it a regular occurrence.
This is a common mistake: sending an invitation to connect with a person and once invitation is accepted, sales rep begins pitching and selling to the person. Don’t do this. Aim to establish some rapport first. This way, you’re not forcing a sale. You also don’t run the risk of turning people off. People don’t connect with other people to be sold to.
So if you’re not selling, why is it called social selling? Social selling is really more about expanding your network by making connections; building a stronger image for you and your brand through valuable content; and engaging with—and listening to—your target audience the way you would in usual in-person conversations. Social selling allows you to reach a wider audience—the kind you won’t be able to connect with in person on a daily basis.
The sale in social selling should happen organically: when there is enough of a rapport with the prospect, he might inquire. Or maybe you pique the interest of someone reading your posts and he sends you an inquiry via private message. These are good reasons to make a pitch. The thing to remember too is that you don’t need to sell in the social media platform. You can go off the platform when sales discussions are in full swing and make a call, send an email, or even meet in person.
2. Expect immediate results
So many people go into social media expecting immediate results. That rarely happens. You won’t win over an audience with just a few winning posts or within a couple of months. You need to stick to your social strategy and be consistent.
And forget quickie strategies like creating a viral post and thinking this will make for a strong social presence. Viral posts are okay if you can sustain the interest. Otherwise, you’ll be a social one-hit wonder. Strong and steady is better in social media. Don’t go for the quick wins that often have short-term results.
3. Flood people with your content
Choose quality over quantity when it comes to content. Don’t flood people’s timelines with mediocre content. Be more thoughtful.
4. Be too opinionated
Having an opinion is good, but don’t use your social media as a platform to start sharing your opinions on everything and anything. Be very wary of certain opinions that may hurt your profile and, worse, your brand. Again, be very thoughtful. Be insightful, not argumentative.
Photos from Unsplash. Main image by Jakob Owens