What is Social Selling?

What is Social Selling? Why should I care?
👉 Social selling is another buzz term that has increased in popularity over the last 18 months, it’s not rocket science, it’s using Social Media to generate leads in its most primitive form. The techniques will vary if you are consumer facing or B2B, so be careful as you start to research this topic as lots of the advice is slightly confusing and tries to be generic rather than focusing on one or the other.

(Social Selling is also a term given to salespeople who use Linkedin to prospect, and build sales relationships, this is not what we are talking about we are looking at how a business collectively uses social selling to drive business 😮)

Establish if Social Selling is what you actually want!

👌 All businesses want a return on investment, but make sure that investment is aligned to the right output in the first place. I often see confusion around campaigns that are geared towards other metrics such as data capture and awareness that succeed only for the client or the business to deem the campaign has failed, why?

More often than not because there is a disconnect between creating a marketing campaign for branding or product awareness and selling.  

You see, here is where it gets sketchy and is not helped by the many marketing agencies, PR’s, trainers, coaches and everyone else fighting for your marketing spend. This includes the tools and platforms themselves who put out content to attract your spend monthly.  

Let’s strip it back, what do you “really” want to achieve with your marketing spend? If its sales then 💰 let’s look at your options.

Social media gives you a few good options

  • Content – Takes time to build and requires an investment in time
  • Advertising – Pay to play, use your native content and deliver it to new audiences
  • Social Selling – If you have a sales infrastructure can help compliment your existing sales process and deliver new prospects.

If you are looking to increase page likes, want more followers or want more engagement on the organic content you are putting out then stop, this is not for you at this time.

Why are relationships important in social selling? Does my business require it?

It can be easy to get caught up in the latest trends, especially with sales and marketing, particularly as we have a real fear of missing out, before committing you need to consider do I actually need to sell through relationships?

Wherever you go we hear about “relationships” and the importance of building relationships, in fact, Social Media Marketing and relationships go hand in hand, and for the most part, I agree. 👇

Now for something controversial 😱, look away if you’re easily offended, it’s also a massive load of bollocks! If you are in a competitive market and price is a key driver you should bet your money on something more useful to you!

Not everyone needs to social sell if you are a retailer and you are not creating your own products, forget it, spend your money on advertising to get greater reach and creating stories that make people want to buy your products. Your relationship building will need to be on customer service, loyalty is difficult if people can get the same product cheaper elsewhere, I am sure you do it with your own wholesalers.  Social media marketing can offer you many great advantages from building data to retargeting, raising awareness and drive transaction through campaigns. This Social Selling, however, is possibly not the best use of your budget.

Okay, I think Social Selling might still be for me, how can I make it work for me? 💪

Social Selling works really well for B2B businesses of all sizes, you can really enhance your existing sales efforts, be warned though for most businesses it is an extension of the existing process and you need to think about how this fits in with your existing sales and marketing strategy.  Too often businesses try and implement in isolation and wonder why the impact is minimal.

Before all else, establish who you are targeting the platform they use and the product/service you want to drive sales.  

Who in the organisation is key to making this process a success? the natural fit you may think is the sales person but in reality, it may not be the right choice.  A large part of establishing the type of relationship required in social selling is to create credibility if you are British and working in B2B having a salesperson connect with you and suddenly send you some groundbreaking content full of insight will do little more than raising the “ante sales flag that is built into us all”

It’s vitally important that the content comes from the right source, it needs to be credible and you may need to drive it from the company page or from staff involved directly with the project. Credible insight from credible sources, but do not leave the sales team out, they are crucial to closing the deal and help them to do the job by supporting with follow up content that is suitable for them to share.

Customers want insight, and that insight needs to give them the feeling of an advantage it can be for the business or for their own career, these are the two triggers that make content successful.   

Build a content strategy that does not just add value, it needs to give your target customers market advantage.

Get meaningful insight by surveying your existing customers on issues that affect your industry, if you don’t have anyone in-house to convert this into quality content, then now is the time to outsource, find a freelance writer who specialises in your sector, this will give you unique content that no one else has and cannot be easily ripped off and replicated, in other words, it will not just become noise.

This is the type of content that your sales prospects can use, and will support decision making. You can also write step by step guides that educate, make life easy for your prospects be remembered for helping them, keep it in context.

Digital marketing tools are the masters of this, giving away content about creating content, why so they can sell you the content management solution.  Keep it relevant to your offering.

Social media is the channel you use, relationships are human and you cannot automate a relationship.

What next

😀 Now you have got some engagement with the right audience you need to begin to build your relationship.  If you have a sales team these guys will be key to now building the relationship, and yes they may need to pick up the phone, social selling does not mean the death of the cold call, it’s about maximising the routes to market and getting to the qualified leads.

Larger organisations with some budget could pull together an event to announce the results of the survey results, make it exclusive, use social media to drive the buzz around the event. Bring in an industry expert to give views and opinions that those invited simply cannot get anywhere else.

You may want to create an exclusive report off the back of the survey and capture data asking people to download the report.

👉 The important thing is to follow up, and where qualified leads have expressed interest then close the sale. Sales is a process and Social Selling should be incorporated into the existing sales plan, make sure it complements and works in harmony with your existing sales and marketing structure.