Let’s start by explaining what “Social Selling” is. According to Brian Solis, social selling is the “use of social media by sales organizations to listen, interact with customers, and collaborate internally”:
The way customers shop has changed considerably in recent years, not only when it comes to business-to-consumer (B2C) but also business-to-business (B2B) sales; for this reason we have to change our way of selling. Although social selling does not mean breaking with traditional channels, it is an evolution of them.
According to the Corporate Executive Board, 57% of the buying process is complete before the customer calls their supplier or talks to another seller.
This means that since the buyer decides to investigate their alternatives when they start calling their usual suppliers, they practically already have a decision made and let the sellers compete on price, which leaves us in a very good position.
Consumers are also 71% more likely to make a purchase based on referrals from social media. In other words, social networks affect our purchasing decisions and, therefore, that of our customers.
The 5 Pillars Of Social Selling
The best way to see how social media can affect your sales process is to, well, give it a try. Jill Rowley (formerly Oracle) is dedicated to training salespeople in the new skills needed to drive social selling.
In an interview with Ginny Soskey (Hubspot), Jill tells what, in her opinion, are the 5 fundamental pillars on which to base social selling.
Even if potential clients aren’t answering the phone or responding to your emails, they can always learn more about you through your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or anything they can Google (new buzzword).
Jill believes that these social networks serve to establish your expertise and give your potential clients a reason to trust you.
For example, you could optimize your LinkedIn page to be useful to your clients instead of showing off your sales skills or something else that your client may find inconsequential.
And what can be useful to your client? Well, you put content that shows your knowledge of the sector in which you work, advice for your clients, explains common problems, provides solutions, etc. Walk across the street to be on the customer’s side of the road and you’ll no doubt find a different approach, from the customer’s perspective.
In short, it is about developing your personal brand and positioning yourself in the mind of the client.
2.The Social ABC And Surroundings
ABC does not stand for “Always Be Closing” – it stands for Always Be Connecting. In other words, it is not about “always closing a sale”, but trying to make more connections.
Spend 20 minutes a day searching for contacts and meeting new people on social media. Social connections can influence the closing of a business in the future.
Regarding your contacts, it is convenient to share with them on different social networks, which makes relationships stronger. Once you reach that point you can explore your contact’s contacts and see if you can extend your network.
As long as you behave with common sense (don’t be pushy, don’t bully), you will be able to build relationships quite easily on social media.
There is an added advantage of connecting with a person on different social networks since today people share a lot of information that is not directly related to their business but to their personal desires and tastes. That information can facilitate another level of contact by discovering relationships or shared interests that can be very useful for “breaking the ice”.
3.Content As Currency
Just like marketers, salespeople need to read, share and create content about their market – and that’s what buyers read too.
By reading and sharing related content, sellers can establish a strong personal brand and dominance in their area.
You can’t always be the one to do the talking if you want to develop a relationship with people. Listening and responding to what others are saying on social media about your industry, your company, and yes, even your competitors, is crucial to your success. The conversation is more important than the monologue.
Jill gave a great example of how social listening can be even more beneficial than in-person networking. “I love going to events for the cocktails, the content, and the connections,” she said. “But I can not attend in person and use the event hashtag, see who is tweeting and replying, bookmark it, or add context. I can be more interesting and relevant even though I am not physically at the event.”
If you have the right tools, listening on the social network is easy. For example, you can configure Zapier (an Automator that connects and automates about 250 web apps, in other words, makes them work together) to send you notifications in real-time. It’s almost like having “superpowers”, you’re not there but you know everything and you can reply, comment and add content.
Like any successful salesperson, you have to keep track of how you use your time and where you put your effort.
Jill recommends monitoring two parameters:
1) Vanity Metrics: These are things like your Klout score or your Social Selling rate. They don’t show how your efforts contributed to your sales share or company profitability, but they are indicators of social success.
2) Basic metrics: These measure the effect that social selling has on your business – we are talking about revenue. These metrics are what you should really focus on, although it does require an investment to get the software to track sales across the company.
Social selling represents an exceptional opportunity for brands. It’s not about being another salesperson sending an email to a customer. But in demonstrating that you really have an online personality, which highlights your leadership qualities before a client.
That includes everything from posting the right photo on a Twitter account to putting the right content on your company’s LinkedIn profile. Everything you do speaks of you and your company.
If you are interested in going deeper into social selling and you are good at English, I recommend that you download a complete guide prepared by Hootsuite.
Developing a social selling strategy can really pay off.