In short, social selling means using social media to interact with prospects. It can be a powerful prospecting methodology for sales teams. Social selling empowers sales reps to guide better-qualified opportunities directly into the funnel.
Social selling reduces a sales team’s reliance on marketing. Marketing efforts often lack a stringent vetting process and produce lower-quality and fewer leads.
Social selling also reduces the reliance on less effective methods like phone and email. This has the added benefit of reducing the rejection your sales reps face daily.
I recently had success connecting with a Chief Marketing Officer through strategic social selling. First, I sent him a LinkedIn connection request inviting him to an SBI premium workshop. He accepted.
Next I started sending him content that he would find valuable. I also kept in contact with him on Twitter.
In time, I (softly) requested some time on the phone with him. He didn’t respond right away, but I kept in touch on social media. I commented on one of his posts on social media, and he commented back. After that interaction, he finally asked for my email address. His administrator then set up a time for us to talk.
I went from zero contact to having a phone call with this high-level prospect. That is the power of social selling.
The Social Selling Methodology
There are two phases to turn social selling from a concept to a methodology.
Phase 1: Create an Effective Profile
On any social media platform, a profile that reads like a resume is ineffective. Your profile should speak to the challenges and struggles of potential buyers. This is especially true on LinkedIn.
Start by having your sales team create buyer personas. Then have them write profiles that speak directly to those prospective customers.
Phase 2: Activate Your Network
Referrals are an effective, relationship-based way to connect with prospects. LinkedIn makes this easy because you have visibility to your contacts’ network. First, search your contacts’ connections for potential prospects. Then ask your connection for an introduction to that person.
Pro tip: Give your connection a script to send to the prospect when making the introduction. Make it as easy as possible for them to introduce you to the prospect.
Another way to activate your network is to regularly post relevant content. Post articles that your buyer personas will find helpful. Comment on your contacts’ posts, too. Build an online relationship with prospects to stay visible and top-of-mind. This also activates Social Debt: the feeling of reciprocity people get when they receive value.
Finally, use social media to research and listen to what your customers are saying. Once again, LinkedIn is a great platform for this because of its robust profiles. Customize your outreach with information gathered through other channels.
Getting Your Team Onboard
Your sales team might be skeptical of social selling, and that’s perfectly normal. Here are three ways to convince them of the value:
1. Give them real-life examples of when it has worked
My example in the introduction to this blog is a great place to start. Another helpful resource is our Social Selling Case Study.
2. Let them see social selling in action
Take the time to walk them through it. Use social selling tactics with a real-life example. Empower your sales team by working with HR to provide additional training and workshops.
3. Run a pilot with people who are already savvy on social media
This will help create credibility and a groundswell of support within your sales team.
Improving Social Selling Skills
Your sales team needs a few specific skills to be successful with social selling. Work with your sales leaders to make sure your sales teams get training on:
- Crafting a compelling message that makes them stand out in the crowd
- Making their LinkedIn profile more appealing
- Initiating Social Debt effectively
- Asking for referrals
You can start right now by downloading our free Social Prospecting Enablement Toolkit.
Take Time to Nurture on Social Media
Social selling requires ongoing discipline and focused effort. It takes time. But your sales team will build stronger customer relationships with this methodology.
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