Social Selling is a technique that uses your social network to identify better prospects, build trusted relationships, and eventually translate these connections into sales. This sales strategy allows for better quality lead generation and sales prospecting, effectively eliminating the need for pure cold calling. Social selling isn’t a new approach, but with the rise of digital social media networks, it has been transformed in how quickly it can be done.
When in the past you might spend days meeting people, you can now do this in a matter of minutes online. The core fundamental is the same however – build trusted relationships in order to position yourself as someone who provides value until they’re ready to buy.
The SSI (social selling index) is an index provided by LinkedIn which measures how well you sell yourself on LinkedIn – through your profile, interactions and networking with others. It will give you an idea of how well you’re using LinkedIn for relationship building compared to others within your industry. It’s a great baseline to use to measure how well you’re utilising the platform.
Inbound social selling is very similar to lead nurturing. The idea behind it is to replace traditional sales tactics – cold calling, hard sell and scripted conversations. Instead you now focus on making connections and interacting with prospects and current customers on different social networks. It’s more about building relationships with prospects instead of doing a hard sell.
According to “Social Selling: A New B2B Imperative,” a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Hootsuite in May 2017, organisations see the value in defining their approach to social selling. Forrester surveyed 265 sales and marketing leaders for the study and found that “49 percent of B2B enterprises have developed a formal social selling program, and 28 percent are in the process of doing so.”
In fact, only two percent of survey respondents said they had no plans to establish their own programs.
If you have not yet incorporated social selling into your business, you’re likely already losing sales to your more socially savvy peers.
Social Selling is using social media as means of driving business. Digital Selling is creating an entire ecosystem that is leveraging all of the assets that are occurring both online and offline.
Social Selling is a big part of Digital Selling. Where does the seller come in? The seller’s job is to meet a buyer along the buyer’s journey, and help them through the process.
Social Selling has three major tactical elements or components:
- Insights-based selling
- Trigger-based selling
- Referral-based selling
These three tactical elements of Social Selling can be automated with tools like LinkedIn and fed with content to nurture relationships.
In short, Social Selling means leveraging content and social platforms to drive next steps for the buyer.
Selling has become a real obstacle course: prospects no longer respond, competition is fierce, complex sales cycles and databases are expensive and quickly obsolete. To retain the attention of those to whom it is addressed, the sales representative must personalize his approach. Selling via social networks is therefore the most effective.
The adoption of Social Selling by SMEs seem to be far behind . Every country defines SME differently. In New Zealand and Australia, SMEs are defined up to 19 employees, Mid-Market between 20 and 199 and Large Enterprises above 200 employees. Lawyers, bookkeepers, photographers, mortgage brokers, financial advisors and consultants often work successfully by an established face to face network, word of mouth and using business organisations. Owners of those companies usually have a profile on LinkedIn, but in most cases don’t use the tool on a frequent base.
Social Selling is an ideal prospecting instrument to draw the trigger back within the buying journeys and to establish interest at a much earlier stage. Finding potential clients, surrounding them before engaging and further educating them with relevant content of well perceived value will position the provider as a thought leader in the respective space. This is successful when an established online relationship moves from a digital conversation into scheduled meetings or phone conferences. In my opinion, the term should rather be called “Social Engagement” as the pure sales activity starts afterwards.
Small Businesses can use Social Selling as well if both sides are more active than just having an online resume. It simply becomes a matter of using social networks.
When engaging with a prospect, every bit of information helps.
That is why since the beginning of times, sales professionals are seeking every little bit of information they can secure about the prospect, especially in B2B sales. Every element of personal information might prove to be useful and used to build stronger rapport with the prospective client.
With an ever growing volume of information in today’s digital world, sales professionals rarely have the time or resources to search the web and find all the informational nuggets relevant to the deal. It becomes a really time consuming mission that all of us dread.
When it comes to a complex B2B sale, every insight is important.
When it comes to long sales cycle and a big contract timely insight is invaluable.
Most B2B sales have multiple stakeholders involved and present a fine balance of many considerations. Personal and professional trust provides essential input in the process.
Social selling approach allows to establish trust and secure longevuty of relationships.
Today’s purchasing decisions are generally made by more than one person, it can be a whole buying committee — so sales need to do even more additional work of mapping out the key stakeholders within an organisation to understanding the needs of each person in order to drive a deal to a successful closure.
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