Social Selling is one of the most important trending topics in digital marketing media right now. 10 years ago, social media was just starting to become a mainstream feature in people’s daily lives. Fast forward to 2022 and nearly half of the world’s population is active on social media. It didn’t just grow; it became the main source of content consumption for most of the world. For anyone trying to sell their products or services, this means a necessary shift in how they use social media to engage with their possible buyers.
Understanding trends and trying to stay ahead of the curve before the next big thing comes along can make all the difference when it comes to online marketing. Keeping a steady finger on the pulse of social media can help you discover breakthrough competitive opportunities before the rest of your competitors catch the drift.
At CXGlobals, we are always trying to do our part to be up-to-date on marketing trends and strategies that can benefit our clients, which is why we’ve prepared this comprehensive guide to Social Selling that can help you have a better understanding of this trending practice and how it can benefit your business.
What is Social Selling?
According to LinkedIn (the most important channel for Social Selling), social selling is “about leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately achieve your sales goals“. In essence, social selling is the process of researching, connecting, and interacting with potential customers through your social media networks (this refers mainly to Twitter and Linkedin; for our purposes here, we will be discussing social selling mostly on LinkedIn). Social selling is a form of lead nurturing, where salespeople build credibility with potential customers by actively engaging with them on social media, liking, commenting, and sharing user-generated content, and providing a healthy flow of original content that they are likely to consume.
It’s important to note that Social selling is not a quick-win initiative. Salespeople need to invest time, effort, and patience into social selling, but it will ultimately reap highly beneficial results that will help both your sales and brand recognition.
Getting Started: Ground rules for Social selling
Before actively starting the practice of social selling, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.
1) Optimize social media profiles
Make sure every social media profile you will be using is updated and optimized. This includes your company’s corporate profile as well as the individual profiles for each salesperson. LinkedIn recommends the following:
a. A recent, high-resolution picture
b. Use your job-title description as a small value prop that reaches out to your ideal customer (ie: Digital Marketing manager specialized in helping B2B Technology companies).
c. A 3×3 summary (3 paragraphs with 3 sentences each) where you reiterate your value proposition, provide social proof on how you achieve results, and a call to action that explains why and how a buyer should contact you.
d. Visual content that can interest your potential buyers.
e. Use the experience section to talk about HOW you helped clients improve their business, rather than list how many times you’ve done it.
f. Join LinkedIn groups that your potential buyers are also in.
2) Build a robust content marketing strategy
While not mandatory, a well-designed and properly scheduled content marketing strategy will be the best support you can give your social selling efforts. Providing a consistent flow of valuable content that your potential customers will be interested in will give your brand credibility as it actively participates in social selling and networking activities on LinkedIn and other channels. Regularly publishing original content can help establish your company as a thought leader in the areas that are of most relevance and interest to your potential buyers. We have an in-depth guide on improving content development that can help you further on this subject.
3) Subscribe to blogs, though leaders, and keep a steady pulse on the news
There’s only one way to know what you should be talking about: by paying attention to your environment. A major part of successful social selling is being well-informed about trending topics and well-versed in discussing matters of interest to your buyer community. Make a habit of reading news, following blogs, and researching trending topics as soon as they pop up on your radar.
4) Social Listening Alerts
With Google Alerts or LinkedIn Sales Navigator you can set up notifications that will alert you whenever a prospect or customer triggers an event. Each event indicates an opportunity to engage, warm a lead, or even present a sales opening. Social listening alerts will help you quickly track whenever a prospect mentions a problem they have that you may be able to address and get noticed.
5) Mind the tone
Social selling is a lot about leading with the human aspect of your brand. Trying to hawk attention by commenting with sales pitches every chance you get is a quick way to earn a bad reputation.
- Avoid sending messages to prospects unless they have already expressed explicit interest in your company.
- When sending messages, ensure they are customized and personable; avoid a generic, robotic tone.
- Liking, favoriting, sharing, and commenting on posts are considered less-invasive interactions over direct messaging. Start warming up leads this way before reaching out directly.
Social Selling 101: How to engage prospects
For social selling to be successful, we need to make sure we are engaging with our prospects, and that they are in turn engaging with our content. The day-to-day execution of your social selling campaign revolves around four main activities:
1) Sharing/Posting Content
There’s OC, or, Original Content, and there’s OPC, which is Other People’s Content. Regularly creating and posting OC will give your company credibility as a thought leader that offers more than what you’re selling. That credibility can build up a reputation as an authority on subjects that your prospective buyers are interested in. That authority leads to public trust, which ultimately helps potential buyers naturally come to you rather than you having to seek them out.
On the other hand, OPC helps you seem like a friendly neighbor. Instead of hogging the attention to cement your place in the market, you are cooperating with the community by sharing their content and showing interest in their business. Sharing OPC, especially when it belongs to prospective customers, is a quick way to get noticed by buyers who may not be aware of your brand. And for those who are aware of your brand, it’s an easy way to keep warming them up. Sharing OPC from sources your prospects follow is also an excellent way to show you share common interests.
2) Liking posts
This one’s relatively simple: like plenty, like often. Like your prospect’s posts, like posts re-sharing your content, and like content your prospects also like. It’s the easiest social selling habit to make.
Commenting is a two-sided weapon. Depending on how and what you comment, you can either warm up a lead, or you can come off as invasive, annoying, or unwanted. It comes down to a few do’s and don’ts:
- Comment positive feedback on OPC that you genuinely found interesting.
- Share additional helpful thoughts on a subject that someone else posted.
- Thank people in the comments when they share your OC.
- Continue a conversation when someone comments on your comment if there’s an opportunity to.
- Don’t spam.
- Don’t offer your products/services on comments unless someone is asking about them.
- Avoid commenting with generic sales pitches.
- Don’t directly message prospects unless the relationship is warm enough to do so.
Sending a request to link with a prospect on LinkedIn can be tricky; getting it right comes down to timing and messaging. Try not to send a link request unless there’s been some interaction between both parties. If you haven’t met someone in person, then there should be some frequency of online interaction in the form of likes, comments, and shares before reaching out. The nature of these interactions also matters; make sure this individual has shown some positive interest in your content and/or brand before requesting to link. In this scenario, it helps to make a reference to the post or content where prior interaction took place.
If you have personally met with someone, sending a request should be mostly ok, but be mindful of sending the right message in the invitation.
In general, a LinkedIn invitation should look something like this:
“Hi Andrew, we recently interacted on Jane Garcia’s post about change management, where we exchanged some interesting ideas. We share 20 strong connections, including David Patel, with whom we’ve worked on some projects. I would love to connect!”
How to Measure Success
If you’re serious about starting a social selling strategy, you’ll want to accurately track and measure your results to understand how to improve. The effects of social selling aren’t linear, however, so correlating content and social media tactics with closed deals isn’t so simple. LinkedIn’s tool, the Social Selling Index (SSI), is the best source for measuring your social selling effectiveness. This tool requires a subscription to LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator Premium, which you will already need to execute a social selling strategy on LinkedIn anyway. SSI gives you insights into your online brand presence, effectiveness reaching and engaging with the right people, with an overall score from 0 to 100.
Some CRMs are also equipped with tools that can help you measure the effects of social selling, but we recommend the SSI as being the most accurate one currently available.
What to expect
Social selling is still a fairly new dynamic that is still developing, which is why it’s important to try to get in on the action as early as possible. LinkedIn reports that:
- Over 76% if buyers feel ready to have a social media conversation
- Over 62% of B2B buyers respond to salesperson that connect with relevant insights and opportunities.
- With a high SSI score, you can achieve up to 45% more sales opportunities
We’re sure you have more questions about this topic. Feel free to schedule a call with us to discuss how a social selling strategy can benefit your company.