To make sales in any sector, you need to find some potential buyers. Tracking down prospects individually is hard work, so many businesses turn to social media to reach huge numbers of qualified leads in seconds. This is the art of social selling.
You may have come across this term in conversations online. But what does social selling actually involve, and how does it work?
If you bring the questions, we can deliver the answers. In this complete guide, we’re going to explain what social selling is all about and dive into the real-world strategies used by top salespeople.
In more specific terms, social selling is about using social platforms to connect and build relationships with people who may become your customers. This could be replying to tweets, sharing content in a group, or making an approach via DM.
Social selling can work well for both B2C and B2B sales teams, who can connect either with consumers or decision makers. While it might seem more indirect than cold emailing and cold calling, this strategy often produces better results in the long run.
The stats back this up. Some of the numbers around social selling are truly jaw-dropping:
- Companies in multiple industries generate 50% or more of their revenue through social selling (Source: LinkedIn)
- 84% of C-suite executives use social media to make purchasing decisions (Source: Sales for Life)
- 78% of sales reps who use social media outperform their peers (Source: Sales for Life)
In other words, if you’re not using social media in your sales cycle, you’re probably leaving money on the table.
It’s relatively easy for even small teams to get started with social selling. The question is, how do you implement a strategy that will maximize the return on your time investment? Here’s our six-step blueprint for success:
Before you can start selling to anyone, your team first needs to decide on your preferred social networks.
In the world of B2B, LinkedIn is far ahead of the competition. The site is set up for fostering business relationships, and pretty much every executive has a profile. The same can’t be said for Twitter and Facebook, for example.
For B2C selling, you have a wider range of options. However, as we generally advise that you connect with prospects through groups — more on that soon — we would recommend using a platform with that functionality.
When you make this decision, it’s important to think about your ideal buyer persona. Each network has a predominant demographic, making it more or less likely you will find customers on each of the platforms.
For example, almost 40% of Gen Z Tiktok users say that videos on the platform influence their buying decisions. Meanwhile, 42% of Twitter users are college educated. YouTube and reddit have more male users, while Instagram and Pinterest have more female users.
By matching the characteristics of your ideal customer profile to your chosen social platform, you increase your chances of reaching qualified leads.
As the name implies, social media is all about connecting with other people. If you want to make sales on these platforms, you first need to build a network.
Why? Well, there are a few reasons. First, anyone who follows you will see your content. That includes potential customers, who may see posts about your latest offers, along with any pearls of wisdom you might share. Second, some of those people will interact with your content, and maybe even share it among their own connections. This means instant referrals.
Outside of this circle, you will only be able to engage directly with other users if they (a) have minimal privacy settings, or (b) you pay for InMail.
So, making new connections on LinkedIn and other platforms should be your priority. Most top social sellers have 500 connections or more. However, it’s not worth sending connection requests indiscriminately. This isn’t a simple numbers game; it pays to be targeted with your approach.
Start by uploading your existing contacts to see who is already on your chosen platform. You should then start seeing recommendations for other users who have a similar profile.
On social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, you can also use the search function to track down users with specific keywords in their profile. If most of your customers work in the SaaS industry, include that in your search.
It’s also worth looking for people who hold specific roles. After all, trying to sell HR software to the head of marketing is going to be a tough gig. So, include those keywords in your searches, too.
If you want more of your targets to accept your friend requests, consider sending an introductory note, explaining who you are and why you want to connect. LinkedIn has this feature built into the connection system.
Of course, many users will only respond to your connection request if they already know you. So, how do you go about building relationships with potential clients?
On platforms like Facebook, reddit, and LinkedIn, one very effective tactic is to join interest groups and pages. By becoming an active member of these communities, you can build a reputation as an authority on a particular subject, and as someone who adds value.
If you comment on posts in these groups, you also have the opportunity to strike up conversations with prospects. One friendly exchange is sometimes all it takes to launch a new business relationship.
If you really want to make an impression, be sure to post useful content within these groups. This form of content marketing can be very effective at drawing the attention of hot leads. You can even suggest that they message you with questions, to start some conversations.
As your brand becomes well known, people may start talking about you on social media. These comments could be glowing praise or barbed criticism — either way, it’s good to know what is being said.
To ensure you never miss such conversations, it’s a good idea to set up social listening alerts.
Available through a variety of apps, this feature automatically sends you a notification whenever specific words, phrases, or hashtags are mentioned in a public post by any user.
You can then jump in with an appropriate follow-up — whether that is thanks for kind words, providing additional information, or responding to complaints.
The team at Wendy’s are well known for this on Twitter. Scrolling through the replies, it might seem like meaningless banter half the time. But just by engaging with customers, the brand has become more personal and memorable for new and returning customers.
Two key ingredients in any effective social selling strategy are publishing content and engaging with other users.
You could say this is more a marketing thing than part of your sales process. But the truth is that the lines are a little blurred in social channels.
Publishing relevant content that addresses the pain points of your ideal customers is a great way to start earning the trust of sales prospects. It makes your brand a thought leader, rather than just another provider.
A well-created piece of content can also start conversations, and it can even include a call to action.
Just make sure you’re not publishing thinly-disguised sales pitches — people will see through the smoke and mirrors very quickly, and you will lose credibility.
Once you have built a network, joined some groups, and established a professional brand, the last step is to deliver a pitch.
B2C social selling is often quite direct. Brands will simply post offers via their social channels, and in groups as rules allow.
In contrast, B2B social selling techniques usually involve a more personal approach. More specifically, you’re likely to see better results if you start conversations through direct messaging.
The key here is to pick the right person to contact, and to deliver the right pitch.
On social media, you can dispense with most of the formalities. Your pitch should be concise and snappy. Open with something memorable — ideally a conversation starter, such as a question or an anecdote. Templates are useful, but be sure to adapt your message to every recipient.
Be sure to include a call to action, as well. It could be as simple as, “If you’re interested, just reply to this message.” Alternatively, you could drop a link to your landing page or suggest scheduling a call.
If you can get your sales professionals to follow the social selling steps mentioned above, you should start seeing a steady stream of leads filling your CRM.
But if you want to turn that stream into a torrent, be sure to implement these proven social selling tips:
If you’re working hard on engaging with your target audience, there’s a fair chance that some potential customers will check out your profile. Some prospects might even find you via search. Either way, this is a prime opportunity to capture new leads.
To maximize your sales opportunities here, you need to optimize your own social profile or company page:
- Include a pitch and a CTA in your description
- Add a link to a landing page
- Use keywords that your target audience might be searching for
- Upload visuals that include information
Many teams that adopt social sales techniques tend to spread themselves too thinly. Even big brands, which may have profiles on multiple social networks, rarely seem to conquer every market.
There are a few reasons for this. Messaging that works on one platform may not resonate with a different audience. The same goes for media; a product that is best sold with a lengthy pitch is unlikely to find favor on Twitter.
Besides, it’s generally better to spend more time on fewer networks.
Start with one platform, and build a strong presence there. If you want to expand further, then consider adding another platform.
The worst thing you can do is try to sell everywhere.
Whichever platforms you choose to prioritize, it’s important to look at metrics.
Every social network has built-in stats that reveal the performance of your content, as well as key information about your followers or connections.
By watching your numbers over time, you can shape your efforts to match your audience — from the time they are online, to the type of content that is most likely to start conversations.
LinkedIn has a feature that is designed specifically for this purpose: the Social Selling Index (SSI).
This metric takes account of your performance on the platform in four different areas, and provides a single score. At a glance, you can see whether you’re moving in the right direction, or you have work to do.
Another great social selling tool on LinkedIn is the Sales Navigator.
This premium feature helps salespeople to track down B2B buyers, with very detailed search functions. It also allows you to save prospects, and get updates on their activity.
Social selling isn’t only about engaging with prospects on social media. You can just as easily use these platforms to back up your sales efforts via other channels.
In particular, LinkedIn acts like a huge professional database, brimming with people who could become your customers. It’s the perfect place to do some background research.
You can gather some useful information just by scanning individual profiles and company pages. But you can learn a lot more by utilizing a specialized research tool such as Datanyze.
When you visit a profile, our Chrome extension automatically picks out key information for your chosen contact — including their role, and the size of the company they work for.
In addition, you get accurate contact details including direct phone numbers and email addresses. This means you can start conversations even if your prospect doesn’t use social media that often.
As we have discovered, social selling techniques can deliver great results. By following the steps outlined above, you should be able to unlock the full potential of this strategy.
If you would like to improve your workflow, Datanyze can help. Sign up today for a free 90-day trial to discover how easy prospect research can be!