Though sale tactics are probably as vast as the stars in the sky, one that has gained traction over the last decade is social selling. Not surprisingly, its ascent is tied to the increased usage of social media in all aspects of our personal and professional lives.
If you aren’t familiar with social selling, it’s very similar to lead nurturing. As an inbound sales tactic, it relies on social networks as platforms to interact with current and potential customers.
If social selling sounds a lot like social media marketing to you, you wouldn’t be alone. The primary difference between social selling and social media marketing is that sales professionals lead the charge in social selling to attract individuals for one-on-one relationships.
Social media marketing usually sits with the marketing team, and the goal is to influence many through social channels. Additionally, social selling depends on salespeople to create individual social media accounts to interact with prospects and customers, while social media marketing uses company brand accounts to communicate with communities and larger audiences.
Think about the problems that your product or service solves and the organizations that have those needs. At its best social selling becomes much less about convincing companies to try and buy your software as it becomes the practice of reaffirming expertise in your vertical and letting those in your community know that you’re knowledgeable about problems that plague your industry. And, incidentally, you have robust solutions that will solve their pain points. In this way, social selling marries social media marketing, influencer tactics, word-of-mouth marketing, and brand building.
Social selling is an effective high-touch sales tactic because the approach aligns with what business buyers say they prefer when evaluating solutions.
Do these four things to start social selling
The leading social media platforms for these professional purposes are probably LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Pinterest, or Instagram. Before you write your social profiles, make sure you’ve done the research. If you have access to social listening software, analyze which social platforms your prospects interact on.
For many in the B2B space, LinkedIn is probably the social platform of choice. But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule it can vary depending on the industry and niche market. When you’ve chosen the platform(s) you’d like to cultivate relationships on, look at other professional profiles to model the language and tone you should follow.
And while it should go without saying, don’t plagiarize any other accounts. Pay special attention to the tone that you use in your profile. Create an honest profile and try to keep the sales language to a minimum. If you’re unsure about how you’re coming across, ask a non-sales professional to look over your profiles and edit out anything they suggest is too promotional. For social platforms that have groups (like LinkedIn and Facebook) make sure to join those that are relevant to your prospects and industry.
Your traditional sales research skills come in handy here. Instead of putting prospects in the pipeline for cold calling, look them up online and identify the social platforms that they are active on. Once you identify a few candidates in this way, use this intel to widen your social network connections. When you come across a prospect’s posts, make sure to leave relevant and insightful comments. Make sure your initial interactions do not contain sales info. Remember you’re here to build relationships first.
An easy way to get relevant insights is to work with your organization’s marketing team to highlight blog posts, research reports, or other thought leadership materials. Don’t forget to follow your brand’s social media accounts to retweet, share, or otherwise broadcast on-brand messages. It’s easy to add your own insights by commenting on brand posts.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of posting updates, create an alert with either your social listening software or Google to surface specific keywords and topics that are industry-relevant. Mix in content from a variety of sources with relevant commentary on the posts you’re sharing. Once you’ve gotten the hang of posting content, try your hand at producing original long-form content on industry-relevant topics. You can publish this on LinkedIn or Medium and share it throughout your profiles, inviting commentary.
Of course, these social selling tactics are a playbook for professional relationship-building on social networks. In this way, you’ve branded yourself as an expert and micro-influencer in your vertical/industry. And by building these one-on-one relationships with prospects, you have (hopefully) set up opportunities to provide solutions when your connections have needs that arise.
So, what are you waiting for? Start social selling today!