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Stop Cold Calling and Start Social Selling

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Stop Cold Calling and Start Social Selling

Building relationships is essential when it comes to achieving sales goals, but how those relationships are developed and nurtured has changed a lot over the last decade.

Savvy businesses now use social selling to better target an audience and build relationships through social media connections. To understand how to get the most out of your social selling efforts, however, you’ll need to understand the best practices.

Social Selling Really Means Not Selling

The first thing to understand is that social selling is not the same as social media marketing. With social media marketing, you’re using channels such as Facebook or LinkedIn to place ads or promote your company.  

Social selling, on the other hand, uses social media channels to find, connect with and nurture sales prospects. The process builds on social interactions where users exchange information and share their expertise. According to LinkedIn, 76 percent of prospects are ready to have social media conversations like this.

It’s easy to understand how selling works if we look at an example.

Sam owns a small business in the Midwest, and although he has a website up and running, he’s been unable to generate the type of traffic his local competitors enjoy. He mentions the problem in a small business group he belongs to on Facebook, where Sarah happens to see his comment.

Sarah is an expert in search engine optimization. Based on Sam’s comments, she suspects that he isn’t fully taking advantage of local search and offers some tips for doing so.

Soon, a conversation ensues between Sarah and Sam, in which Sarah is able to demonstrate her expertise in search engine optimization (SEO). She points Sam to some content on her company’s website that she feels will help him in his SEO efforts but stops short of offering her professional services.

Days later, once Sam has had a chance to read through the content that Sarah recommended, he contacts her about helping his company with a broader SEO initiative. In the meantime, she’s been approached by another individual who saw her comments to Sam’s inquiry and has questions of his own.

Without making a single cold call, Sarah has two well-qualified prospects in her sales pipeline. And while the example above is simplified, social selling doesn’t have to get any more complicated to achieve results. Best of all, social selling works equally well for business-to-consumer sales.

Best-Practice Tips for Social Selling

When thinking about social selling, it’s important to understand that your prospects are already engaged in social buying. That means they are using social media channels to find potential vendors.

For example, 78 percent of consumers say that their purchases are impacted by a business’ social posts, and 84 percent of VP-level buyers use social media when making buying decisions.  If you’ve been listening and engaging on social media, you’re more likely to have been part of that process.

Social selling can also involve networking with current connections. Eighty-four percent of B2B decision makers start their buying process with referrals from trusted contacts, according to Hubspot. Referrals also convert 30 percent better than leads from other sources.

While you’re developing a social selling strategy, don’t forget about nurturing existing relationships. By some accounts, 65 percent of a company’s business comes from existing customers. To build on these relationships, you may use social media channels to send relevant pieces of content, enter into conversations, or tag customers in a post, for example.

Tips for Social Selling the Right Way

To get your social selling efforts off to a good start, consider the following best practices:

  • Show up and be yourself: Social selling is based on personal interactions, so it’s important to use personal accounts to join relevant conversations and to always be yourself.
  • Listen carefully: Monitoring social media channels for mentions that are relevant to your business can provide you with opportunities to engage potential prospects, but make sure to respond in a way that adds value to the conversation.
  • Be careful not to “pitch”: When engaging on social media remember that people are looking for genuine conversations about a problem or issue, so avoid pitching your product or service. Instead, offer your expertise in a way that establishes your authority.
  • Keep in touch: Don’t leave someone after a single conversation. Instead, continue to follow their engagements and interact when appropriate. This can be as simple as a like or a share or as comprehensive as recognizing a promotion or sharing a relevant piece of content your brand has created.
  • Consider creating content: Creating a steady stream of content provides sales teams with opportunities to engage, by sharing useful information in the form of blogs, videos and white papers. Content is also a way to establish your business’ authority.

If you’re on the fence about whether social selling can help your business, remember that 78 percent of sales people who use social media perform better than their peers.

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