Social Selling:Overlooked and Underrated

You’ve probably heard of social selling. It’s one of the most talked-about things in the world of sales–now more than ever.

In the B2C arena, it’s common practice for the past decade. When it comes to B2B, however, it’s still something that sales professionals and marketers need to work on.

Those who already do are using social media platforms in a similar way that B2C audiences are: familiarizing themselves with the platform, planning, researching, and building lasting relationships with vendors in their network. But beyond that, they also need to gear up to face the challenges that sellers navigate when they go into social selling.

Social Selling Defined

Before we go into issues faced when navigating its tricky waters and the importance of social selling for your company, we need to understand what it is.

In the B2B industry, social selling refers to the process of using social media for sales teams to connect with their prospects. Popular platforms for doing this include LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

It starts with prospecting but doesn’t end there.

It goes on to bridge relationships and ensure that trust between the two parties is established.

Through regular communication and transparency, which can be accomplished with monthly meetings or phone calls–or in this case, by connecting and engaging via social media, your clients can feel more comfortable with you and trust you.

Of course, the type of content we connect with and share in social selling is different for B2B than for your average B2C accounts. Make sure that the content that you post is not purely focused on selling your product or service. Share content that’s relevant to your industry, such as blog posts, articles, podcast episodes, and videos. Doing this can solidify your standing as an expert and give you credibility for your prospects.

Content planning and publishing aside, one key aspect to remember is that each post you share needs to align with your company’s brand and vision. You have to maintain this while still showing your personality to allow the audience to relate to you. Having a more human approach (versus a robotic one) also improves the chances of engagement with your consumers.

Common Challenges in Social Selling

There are many advantages to social selling, but we’ll get to those in a bit. First, let’s take a look at the challenges you are most likely to face before you reap all the benefits of this powerful strategy.

Challenge #1: Selling on the Wrong Platform

Before you and your team start social selling, you need to decide which platforms to post and share content on. This decision is a critical one, which many fail to take as seriously as they should. 

When it comes to marketing in general, some factors that need to be considered include why people are on a particular platform, what activities and types of user engagement typically happen there, and who are there to consume your content.

For B2B social selling, the most prominent elements you want to have in a social media platform are the following:

  • Why: To connect with peers, vendors, and LinkedIn Groups
  • What: Engaging with people within and outside of your circles to build your network 
  • Who: 
    • Vendors, sellers, or clients who are in your industry that are either current or prospective consumers of your content and products
    • People who are looking to experts and professionals in any given field for answers to their questions and problems

With these elements in mind, one can deduce that LinkedIn is the most potent social media platform for social selling from a B2B perspective.

Interested in learning more about Social Selling?
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Social Selling.

Challenge #2: Self-Serving Content

Here’s the thing about social selling: there always has to be added value for your customers.

Your audiences follow you (or are about to follow you) because you present yourself as trustworthy and credible. 

What does this mean?

You must publish and share relevant content founded on insights that you’ve gathered regarding your audience’s interests. It also means that you have to use your content as a bridge towards getting to know your network, building relationships with them, and gaining their trust. All of these are vital to your process – and all should ideally occur before any selling actually happens.

71% of buyers report that they need to see relevant information from sellers. 66% cited that references and reviews from industry peers were critical to their decision-making process, and 61% believed that a seller’s overall reputation in their respective industry helps drive their buying behaviors. Source: The 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey (Demand Gen Report)

Challenge #3: Zero Monitoring Efforts

So you’ve determined the proper channel to publish relevant content that caters to your target audience, but you haven’t been tracking how all of these efforts are doing in sales conversions. Unlike a casual social media post, the number of likes, shares, and comments won’t do B2B sellers a lot of good. In social selling, you need to dig deeper.

Metrics will be your best friend. The LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) Score is a good indicator of your content’s success. In fact, according to a study, sales professionals’ SSI scores were directly correlated to their ability to beat and surpass their quota.

Sellers with high SSI scores are 51% more likely to exceed their quota and get access to 45% more opportunities than sellers with low SSI scores.

Another way to track ROI from social selling is to use marketing automation software. Tools that fall under this category allow you to gather data about your prospects, segment them, and build connections with them using content relevant to where they are in the buying process.

Interested in learning more about Social Selling?
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Social Selling.

How Social Selling Can Improve Your Sales Efforts

After understanding the roadblocks and challenges that you will probably face, now is a better time to take a peek at the different benefits that you can get from a successful social selling strategy. Here are some advantages of social selling:

Benefit #1: Obtaining Measurable Results

One of the benefits of social selling is the ability to measure your results (which we have discussed earlier, see: Challenge #3). These trackable results can come in different forms, depending on what types of monitoring you are implementing. 

  • Individual Engagement Rates – Not exclusive to LinkedIn, this statistic can be measured by looking at the total amount of content you’ve shared over a given timeframe. Then, compare this rate to another (prior or succeeding) period. This can be done to assess social media efforts weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
  • Second Degree Connections – These are the number of connections a seller makes, interacts with, and prospects.
  • LinkedIn SSI – This is a statistic that shows the effectiveness of your social selling efforts and execution. According to studies, the higher the index, the bigger a seller’s sales success is.

Obtaining all of this information can either lead you to (1) keep posting great content for your target audiences or to (2) adjust your content strategies to get more desirable outcomes.

Our COO, Amar Sheth, wrote an article about measuring social selling ROI and what it means for sales leaders.

Benefit #2: Outperforming Peers and Competition

The world of sales is inherently competitive, to say the least. By utilizing social selling as part of your overall process, you can keep up with the competition–and if you succeed, you can stand out and win against them. Take this exciting statistic for example:

78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.

Benefit #3: Beating Your Quotas 

By incorporating social selling into your current sales practices, you can not just meet your monthly quotas–you can exceed them, too. 

Based on the work we’ve done with current and past clients, we have proven that sellers can surpass quota by 15%, grow their pipeline by 25%, and improve their win rate by 20%.

This is made possible through our methodology here at Sales For Life, which incorporates social selling strategies. 

Benefit #4: Capitalizing on Existing Platforms

Here’s a straightforward statistic: 96% of sales professionals spend an average of six hours every week on LinkedIn.

That means that’s where your competitors are. Not doing anything about it means you’re losing prospects by the day by simply not doing social selling.

In addition, corporations and executives consider LinkedIn, particularly, as a source of content relevant to their industry or profession. That’s your target market right there, just waiting for you to tap into and connect with using good content.

Build your company’s credibility, meet more prospects, and build stronger client relationships by regularly sharing valuable and reliable content.

For more information, check out The Ultimate Guide to Social Selling, which delves deeper into best practices, integrating it into your process, training, tools, metrics, and more.

The post Social Selling:<br>Overlooked and Underrated appeared first on Sales for Life.

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