How to Create a Social Selling Strategy
Social selling is no longer simply an option for salespeople – it’s a necessity.
Social media has now taken over almost all aspects of our lives, from catching up with friends to tracking health, and purchasing – even in a B2B context – is no exception.
90% of top-performing salespeople now use social media as part of their sales strategy, and for sales reps that do invest in social media, 64% of them hit their team quota.
This is unsurprising given that there are 3.2 billion social media users around the world, equating to approximately 42% of the population. As we do more and more via social media, it becomes the most natural way to operate – whatever the task.
Whether this is a positive or negative development for humanity isn’t for us to decide, but we do know it offers massive potential for sales.
With this huge audience and detailed data available at the touch of a button, salespeople not well versed in social selling are missing a huge opportunity.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is exactly what it sounds like: it’s the process of selling through social media.
This arm of sales is particularly useful for the relationship-building element of the sales process, from researching prospects and connecting online, to sharing and engaging with prospects’ and leads’ posts to build trust and awareness.
It’s also brilliant when it comes to brand advocacy: happy customers have a platform to attract more leads for you. A global study found that 83% of respondents trust the recommendations of friends and family, making this the most credible form of advertising.
LinkedIn and Twitter are the most useful social networks for B2B social selling, while Facebook dominates in the B2C realm.
How to Create a Social Selling Strategy
Arm yourself with the best social selling tools
Social selling might sound simple; most of us have been using social media platforms for well over a decade now.
But to do it properly, you need to equip yourself with expert help and – vitally – data. When it comes to social selling, data is everything.
Well, imagine you’re running a bakery. A regular walks in. They visit you on the same days each week, and always at the same time.
Because you already know so much about them, you immediately start wrapping them up a fresh-baked brownie.
Then you mention the new promotion you’re running: get a half-price coffee with every order.
You’ve read their mind – they’d love a coffee!
Usie data effectively in your online store and you can replicate those personal interactions on a grand scale, tailoring your offer to suit each and every customer.
There’s a whole host of social selling tools out there designed to deliver everything you need to build relationships with prospects online.
But how do you know which one will get you those all-important results?
It’s all about your chosen social selling platform or platforms.
For LinkedIn selling, it’s difficult to beat the platform’s own LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This helpful tool offers a comprehensive level of customer data for you to dig into.
According to LinkedIn, users of this tool enjoy an average 5% higher win rate. They all reap a 35% larger deal size, 34% of opportunities sourced, and 61% of revenue influenced.
Meanwhile, HootSuite is the premier tool for those selling through Twitter. This tool was recognized as a leader in “The Forrester New Wave: Sales Social Engagement Tools” report.
HootSuite allows you to schedule your activity, which is perfect for saving time during campaigns. It also provides a super helpful analytics dashboard so you can see how all this engagement is boosting your profile.
Furthermore, it groups replies to tweets into negative, neutral, and positive, so it’s very easy to segment your audience by how people are responding to your posts. This allows you to engage with positive respondents, persuade the neutral, and avoid annoying -– and wasting time on – the negative.
Find out where your audience hangs out online
You don’t want to craft amazing content and spend hours and hours attempting to engage prospects only to find you’re shouting into a deep, dark void.
LinkedIn and Twitter are extremely popular platforms for B2B selling, but you may work in an industry where Pinterest or even Facebook is the most popular online hangout.
Before you start, find out where your prospects are hanging out online. This will help you work out how much time and effort to put into each platform.
This can be achieved through social listening, anecdotal evidence (where do you and your colleagues spend most time online?) and bought data.
Create your social selling profiles – and make them organic
Once you’ve discovered where your audience is spending time online, it’s time to create the profiles you’ll use to engage with prospects and leads.
Make sure they’re professional and include keywords, but also attention-grabbing and, most importantly, highly authentic.
Remember, you’re crafting your personal brand here.
For the best results, use your real details. For effective social selling, it’s vital that you come across like a real human rather than a bot. You don’t have to use your personal profile, but it should seem to prospects that your social selling profile is your personal profile.
Connect with influencers and join groups
Now that your profiles are set up, it’s time to lay the groundwork for your engagement efforts.
Industry groups are on the rise and give you easy access to huge swathes of your target demographic. Join groups and begin sharing industry content, as well as liking and commenting on relevant posts.
Follow and connect with any big influencers within your industry. By liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts, you’ll start to appear on the news feeds of prospects you never even knew existed.
And remember: just because this is a professional profile doesn’t mean it has to be dry. Show some personality and be rewarded with higher levels of engagement and stronger online relationships.
Decide how much time you’ll spend engaging per day
Engagement is key to social selling. But sometimes it can feel like a chore.
Sure, this isn’t the high-stakes, go-big-or-go-home selling you do in sales meetings and pitches, but put the work in and the long-term rewards can be huge.
Set aside a specific amount of time each day for liking, sharing, and commenting on posts. Use social selling tools to streamline this process, but spend time on the platforms themselves too for added authenticity. And be consistent!
Use A/B testing to find out what works for your audience
You’ve used data to find out where your audience hangs out outline, and who responds positively to your content. Now it’s time to collect some more.
A/B testing is the go-to method when it comes to testing how well your content is performing. It’s simple, but it can teach you a lot about how to adapt content to boost results.
You can A/B test almost anything about your content.
For example, try using similar versions of the same promoted post, changing details such as the creative, the messaging, or the call to action. You could try one in formal language, and one with a more casual intonation. Try one with an abstract, fun stock image, and one that’s more corporate and to the point.
Run them side by side for a set period of time to see what works best. And then pit the winner against a new variant – rinse and repeat until you’ve honed your approach. Remember, your content can always be better.
This is going to teach you what your audience likes: learnings you can capitalize on when it comes to your next campaign, and the one after that.
Consider how you’ll take your interactions off social and close deals
Remember the purpose of your social selling: to get in front of your prospects. It’s all well and good to surf the socials, chatting to industry peers and having a laugh. But if you can’t then take those relationships off-social, what’s the point?
Having nurtured your prospects via social and targeted content, your next goal should be to book a meeting. To make the user journey smoother, this can be done over the platform’s direct messenger service.
However, if you sense your prospect wants to make sure that you and the company you represent are legitimate, drop them your email address or phone number. Some prospects will still need this reassurance before agreeing to dedicate their time to a meeting.
When is the right time to take your relationship off social? This will be different for every prospect. Lead scoring is a super useful tool to establish when your leads are ready to be pitched to. Too soon and your lead might disengage; too late and they’ll have gone with another provider.