What Is Social Selling?
Social selling is the process of researching, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks — notably Twitter and LinkedIn, but others certainly fit the bill. Through commenting on, liking, and sharing prospects’ and customers’ posts, salespeople create relationships with buyers and boost their credibility by taking an interest in what they’re interested in.
Instead of a hard closing tactic, social selling more closely resembles lead nurturing. Therefore, social selling isn’t for reps seeking quick wins or a silver bullet. Salespeople have to be willing to put in the time and effort to engage with their target buyers on an ongoing basis, and even then, there’s no guarantee that their efforts will pay off.
The Power of Social Selling
But data shows that those who play the long game reap the rewards. Research shows that top-performing sales reps, who close deals 51% more than their peers, consider social networking platforms “very important” to their success. Additionally, sales teams using social selling experience 18% greater pipeline volume and 21% increased pipeline velocity than those who don’t.
What does this look like in practice at a company? After adopting social selling practices and LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, marketing software company Eloqua decreased their average sales cycle time by 20 days, and boosted the rate of leads converting to opportunities by 25%.
Social selling also makes it easier for sales reps to get referrals within their LinkedIn networks, which is significant considering 84% of buyers now begin their buying process with a referral.
Social Selling Tips
There are several steps reps can take to get started with social selling:
1. Optimize their social media profiles.
We’ll cover how to do this in the next section. But be sure to optimize your profiles before you do anything else. If you begin your social selling initiative in earnest with an outdated or incomplete profile, your effort will likely be wasted.
2. Join LinkedIn groups and other relevant forums.
Check out the profiles of your customers and prospects. What groups are they a member of, and which do they participate in? Find out, and then follow suit. It’s also a good idea to join groups on larger industry trends so you can stay informed of the challenges your buyers are dealing with.
If you have something valuable to contribute to a discussion, do it. But don’t use groups as an opportunity to hawk your products or services. Salesy comments are unsolicited, and will annoy group members just as a cold call or email would. Advance the conversation in a meaningful way, or just sit back and observe.
3. Setup social listening alerts.
Use Google alerts or a social listening tool (HubSpot customers can use Social Inbox) to set up notifications about when your prospects or customers experience a trigger event, or post a possible sales opening.
For example, if a prospect mentions a problem they’re having that you can address, an alert can enable you to quickly get involved in the conversation with a helpful piece of content or insight. Similarly, if a potential buyer’s company hires a new CEO or expands their business, you should comment on the trigger event as soon as possible to get on their radar.
4. Share content to build your credibility.
One of the best ways to build credibility and engagement on social media is to share compelling content. Don’t worry, we aren’t suggesting you have to devote your precious time to creating content, you simply need to share it.
Have you read any interesting articles related to your prospect’s industry? Share them. Seen a thought-provoking study that could be a good conversation-starter?
Share it and ask people to engage in the comments. Sharing engaging content with your social networks is a great way to provide value to others, which can help you build trust and credibility.
5. Pay attention to the comments section.
If you see posts in your feed that have high engagement, peruse the comments section to join the conversation. By reading the comments your prospects are leaving, you can better understand their point of view.
Reading the comments will also give you an idea of what kind of content your prospects enjoy and engage with, which can help you decide what kind of content to share.
For example, if someone leaves a comment on your recent product launch post asking, “Is this feature available for Light accounts?” you might respond “All trial accounts have access to this feature for 14 days, and Business and Pro accounts have unlimited access to the game-changing feature.”
6. Share success stories.
Testimonials are a valuable form of social proof. Research suggests 92% of buyers trust recommendations from peers and 70% trust recommendations from strangers. Essentially, buyers trust the first-hand experience of other consumers more than they trust the brands directly.
Sharing success stories from your other customers helps build your credibility with potential buyers and allows prospects to relate to the story of others. If a prospect relates to a testimonial from one of your customers on their feed, they may be more likely to envision the same solution working to solve their problem as well.
7. Keep an eye on customer care.
More buyers are taking to social media and messaging platforms to interact with businesses. As you engage on social media platforms, keep an eye on what buyers and consumers are saying about your company and your offerings — especially in the event a customer is dissatisfied.
Not only can you give your customer care teams a heads up, but you will be more prepared to talk to prospects who may have seen disgruntled customer content.
For example, if you see a comment on social media where a customer is expressing dissatisfaction with your company’s product or service and note what the issue is.
If your company’s marketing or customer care teams haven’t yet responded, let them know about the comment so they can address it, and note the language they use for the resolution.
8. Be consistent.
Lurking on social media every day is probably not the best use of your time. However, for maximum engagement, you should aim to post and engage consistently.
HubSpot’s own Dan Tyre recommends sales reps post at least weekly on LinkedIn with individual follow-up for prospects who engage with your content. “The key is to have three or four interactions within 10-12 days, which shows professional persistence without overwhelming your prospect,” he says.
9. Track engagement.
How often do you look at your social media engagement? Social media engagement includes likes, comments, and shares, and higher engagement is an indication that a piece of content truly resonated with your audience.
By paying attention to what content gets the most engagement with your audience, you can see what content or conversation topics are of interest to your prospects, which is a good indication that you should share more about that topic.
For example, if you post helpful content to your LinkedIn profile weekly and notice content about B2B sales tools gets more likes, comments, or shares than any other content, this is a good indication that topic especially resonates with your audience and is something you should discuss more.
10. Subscribe to blogs.
How will you know what to talk about with your prospects on social media? By reading. Check out what content your buyers are sharing, and subscribe to those channels through email or with an RSS reader. Then share the articles you think would be particularly interesting to your buyers on LinkedIn, or tweet them out.