As more and more people become active users of social media, it’s important for businesses to know where to reach their audiences.
Companies also need to understand user behavior and adapt their digital marketing strategies accordingly.
One way to do this is through social selling across the social platforms used by your core customer base.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the benefits of social selling as well as how you can get started today.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is a powerful technique for connecting and interacting with your prospects and your customers on social media.
Rather than going for a hard sale, brands can use their social accounts to like, comment, or respond to posts by target users, and in doing so build trust and connections with your prospects and customers.
Detractors of social selling will argue that this process isn’t as profitable as the old sales model of cold calls, demos, and lead qualifications.
But the truth is that 78% of sales reps who use social selling outsell those who don’t use social media.
In today’s modern age of selling, salespeople need to reach out and connect with customers where they are, rather than waiting for leads to come to them.
Social selling is a great technique to not only find the leads you want but to build the important relationships you need to make a sale.
Social Selling or Social Media Marketing? What’s the Difference?
Contrary to what many may think, there is a significant difference between social selling and social media marketing.
➤ Social media marketing is the process of marketing across your brand’s social media platforms by sharing posts, promotions, videos, images, and other pieces of content as part of your overall marketing strategy.
➤ Social selling, however, is an interaction-based strategy that builds connections and awareness directly between salespeople and their leads and customers with an end revenue goal in mind.
Think of social selling as the next logical step to replace outdated cold calls.
There is also a difference between social selling and social advertising.
➤ Social advertising is the process of creating ads and clickable links for your business and promoting them through the paid advertising channels on social media.
➤ Social selling uses your own personal account or your brand account to connect with users, while social ads are run through the platform itself.
Benefits of Social Selling
For many companies, the uncertainty of a new technique like social selling can detract some from wanting to give it a try.
However, there are many benefits to social selling that should encourage salespeople to try it for their own companies.
1. Build Trust
Trust is an essential part of the buying/selling relationship, and one that is in short supply.
With social media and the internet making it easier to find bad reviews and experiences customers may have with your product or services, salespeople now have a harder time building trust with their leads.
Social selling allows you to have a personal connection that can outweigh negative impressions of your business.
It also allows you to build long-lasting sales relationships by answering questions, having prompt responses, and giving valuable resources directly to prospects and customers.
2. Shorten the Sales Cycle
Sales cycles are one of the most difficult parts of being a salesperson.
Slow cycles can mean long periods of time between commissions and months of checking in and working through relationships to get to a final sale.
In addition, slow sales cycles can be frustrating for higher-ups as well, leading to internal complications for salespeople needing to hit their revenue goals.
Social selling can cut down the sales cycle by interacting with prospects at the key times of their research.
While cold calls and other methods of relationship building start from square one, social selling allows you to answer the questions your leads have exactly when they have them.
3. Reach More Buyers
Not only does social selling allow you to talk to prospects at key points in their journey, but it also helps you find more prospects and leads without all the steps of a traditional qualification.
For example, you can find forums or groups of people with similar problems that you can address.
Cold calling and lead qualifications can take weeks, and even then most cold calls go unanswered, especially with decision makers.
Social selling gets you to the buyers who want to hear from you, making it so you can sell faster and reach more new leads quicker than traditional sales methods.
4. Outsell the Competition
If your competition isn’t social selling yet, they probably will be soon.
The world is increasingly turning to digital and social methods of marketing and selling, and with the benefits of social selling, it’s not surprising that it’s rising in popularity.
Once you have trust built within your network, you can continue to sell to more people with a quicker sales cycle while your competitors might still be trying to get over the first hurdle of finding their leads.
The old adage is true: there’s no better time to start something than today.
How to Get Started with Social Selling
So you want to bet on social selling. Great! But where do you begin?
Let’s take a look at some of the steps you need to take to get started with social selling now.
Who Is Your Audience?
The first thing you want to do is understand the behavior of your prospects and customers.
- What age ranges do they typically fall into?
- What are their likes and interests?
- What other demographic information do they share?
- And of course, what social media platforms do they use?
Optimize Your Profiles
Once you’ve narrowed down where your audience spends most of their social media time, the next step is to optimize your own social profiles on those platforms.
Target the groups you want to interact with and optimize for their interests.
Join The Right Groups
Groups, pages, and discussion forums are the places where your leads are going to ask the questions you can answer.
Industry and location-specific pages are also great places to join to start adding value to conversations.
Avoid Hard Sales and Be Indirect
Spamming people’s direct messages with product information or immediately posting about your latest promotion on a discussion page is a surefire way to fail at social selling.
The goal is to build trust and relationships, and that’s best done through methods like:
- Adding your point of view to a post about an industry trend.
- Linking to a relevant resource that addresses a lead’s questions.
- Answering a specific technical question asked by a prospect.
- Giving honest feedback about a product or service.
- Liking others’ comments on posts or discussions.
- Inviting interested prospects to set up time on your calendar or message you privately.
Set Up Social Alerts
You can use Google Alerts or other social tools like SocialSprout or HubSpot to set up alerts for specific keywords.
Those keywords can include your products, your business name, or the industry trends you want to track.
In addition to keyword alerts, you can also set up notifications for when prospects like posts or change their profiles, in order to respond in a timely manner.
Social selling isn’t a technique that you can use here and there and find success with.
You will need to be consistently posting, responding, liking, and messaging in order to get the most out of the social selling technique.
Thankfully, by utilizing the social selling process, you can cut out other time-consuming methods of sales like cold calling and spend that time instead on monitoring your social media leads.
Increasing the number of social interactions you have will in turn increase the sales you close.
Wrap Up: Social Selling is a Fantastic Technique for Salespeople
Especially for professionals who want to drop the old method of selling and build trust and relationships with leads where they are on social media.
Social selling not only cuts down the sales cycle and lets you interact with more leads, but also gives you direct insight into the behaviors of your prospects and customers.
Understanding behaviors and the journey your leads take is an essential part of success in digital marketing and sales.
To learn more about how to succeed, check out our free resource and take a mini-course on the buyer’s journey!