Let’s spill the tea: if your company has a social media page, even if it’s just you liking celebrity tweets on the shared business account, you’re already halfway to social selling. More than half the world’s population uses social media platforms on a daily basis. Social Selling 101 is designed to help you take advantage of this, telling you everything you need to know about social selling. Starting with what social selling is, to why you want to go through the pain of wrapping your head around it, through to the ways in which you can use it to your advantage.

What is social selling?

Social selling is the art of developing meaningful relationships with prospects to generate sales.

It’s based on the fact that customers are more likely to purchase from the seller they have an established relationship with. It makes a lot of sense if you reside in your customers’ heads rent-free, you’ll be the first name to pop when they need the products you sell.

Today, most social selling takes place online. Social media platforms give users the opportunity to socially sell the inbound way. If you’re wondering what is social selling the inbound way, it means concentrating your social media efforts on studying the behaviour of customers, observing them as they research products and services, and becoming a true guide for them to lead them toward the making of a purchasing decision.

In a way, it’s like social media marketing (SMM). The difference is that it’s short-lived in nature. On the other hand, social selling focuses on nurturing leads and making them think about you. Unlike SMM, social selling does not urge you to ‘BUY OUR PRODUCTS RIGHT NOW! DO IT BECAUSE THE KARDASHIANS DID’. Instead, it helps you build a connection with your prospects so they are more likely to remember about you when they go on a shopping spree.

Why sell socially?

For what it is, social selling has a lot of benefits, both direct and indirect. Here are just a few of them:

  • It boosts sales. Duh. Over 10% of sellers engaged in social selling managed to close a minimum of 5 deals thanks to them being active on social media (source: OptinMonster).
  • It makes hitting sales quotas easier. Social sellers are 51% more likely to reach their sales quota (source: OptinMonster).
  • It gives a competitive advantage. 78% of salespeople who practice social selling are making higher sales than their peers who do not (source: OptinMonster).
  • It strengthens your bond with clients. 31% of B2B sellers claim that social selling made it possible for them to build stronger bonds with their clients (source: OptinMonster).
  • It is much more effective than cold-calling. 33% of respondents revealed they are more willing to use social media than phone to contact brands (source: OptinMonster).
  • It gives you better control over your brand’s reputation. Not only can you show how much you care about your customers’ experience by responding promptly to any request or complaints they make online, but you can also use SEO to push down the negative stuff.
  • It’s not too costly and works well for all companies, regardless of their size or nature.

The only thing with social selling is that you need to be quick. That’s because everybody is already doing it. Your customers are already practicing social buying; your competitors are already selling socially.

Need any more convincing? Get some inspiration from these companies who have successfully implemented social selling.

  • IBM is, by far, one of the most prominent and frequently used case studies to justify social selling. In 2012, after investing in social selling training for its team, IBM saw a whopping 400% increase in sales.
  • German software enterprise SAP has achieved a 32% increase in revenue by practicing social selling with the staff being 10% more likely to reach their sales quota.
  • The life insurance company Guardian Life used social selling to nearly double back in the day. One of the company’s advisers got 35 referrals from a long-time client simply by looking around their LinkedIn connections.

How to sell socially?

Know your audience

The first, most important step on your path to successful social selling is to identify your audience. Just like with marketing in general, if you want your campaign to drive sales, you need to make sure it’s well-informed. Understand who you are working with, what they need, and what they want. Research your target audience and build a profile of who you’re going to sell to!

The best way to find potential prospects is by researching people interacting with products similar to the ones you offer. It’s particularly useful to find people who have purchased products from competitors, but did not have the best experience, giving you a chance to offer them an alternative and get yourself a loyal customer.

Decide on the platforms to use and adjust your profile

It’s essential to know your audience well enough to predict where they spend most of their time shopping. Depending on the type of business you are, you may give preference to either LinkedIn, best suited for B2B vendors, or Facebook, which works great for B2C businesses.

Profile tips and tricks

It’s important you come across as a credible user, not some random person who pressures people into buying things.

  • Make sure to use a hi-res professional-looking image as your profile picture. Would you rather consider advice from a company with a deep-fried meme as their profile picture, or a company with a nicely presented clean logo? (No shade, we love a good deep-fried meme)
  • Provide value to your target audience straightaway. You need to grab attention from the first glance. An excellent way of doing so would be to tell who you are and what makes you awesome right in the headline of your LinkedIn account or Twitter bio.
  • Make sure your profile is optimised for buyers rather than employers. You need to put emphasis on what a buyer would get if they decide to work with you. Outline all the offers you can make and how they are different from the ones provided by your competitors.
  • Update your profile regularly. It’s essential you are consistent in your posting patterns. Sometimes less is less, especially when it comes to posts. Don’t be that guy who posts once a year and expects it to work wonders. Spoiler alert, it won’t.
  • Know your platforms. Take time to make sure you know how everything works on your chosen platform. It’s in your best interest to keep your profile professional, so double check your privacy settings.

Just a friendly reminder, Twitter shows everyone the content you like, which my old gym teacher found out the hard way. You don't want to know what happened next!

Network tips and tricks

Once your profile is in tip-top shape, it’s time to start expanding your network. The more people know about you, the better; this statement alone is Social Selling 101. Here are some tips for doing that fast.

  • Interact with other businesses. Many platforms show your activity to your followers. Getting better exposure and showing off your expertise? Done!
  • Make sure you regularly engage with followers. Constant notifications act as a continuous reminder about your business.
  • Don’t hesitate to interact with people in LinkedIn Groups. If you’re visible to your peers, you’re visible to your prospects. Eventually, they will become visible to you, too!

Tips and tricks on reaching out

Once you have a great profile and a solid network of connections, you can start reaching out to them. Here is how to do that effectively:

  • Use relevant hashtags to reach out to a broader audience.
  • Monitor relevant conversations and join them. Even though it is great to spark all the exciting discussions, sometimes just joining them is enough! Make sure you are aware of current trends and use them to your advantage.
  • Don’t be a social selling creep. No need to be pesky when it comes to social selling. Instead, ensure you’re friendly, professional and don’t come across as a spammer. Keep your interactions to a socially acceptable level! This means don’t send messages randomly, but rather try to start a conversation naturally. If you’re not sure whether you are creepy with your messaging, begin with the less invasive interactions, e.g. liking and commenting.
  • Custom-made is always better. You need to customise your messages so people you reach out to feel valued and respected. Show them you care about whether they’d be interested in working with you or not.

Provide value

Social selling is all about being subtle in your desire to sell. You’re looking to secure a spot in your prospects’ minds so that they would go back to you when a need arises. All you need to do is provide value; help people.

“Psst, you know when NetHunt answers all those questions on Quora, we're actually just socially selling!”

It’s as simple as that: you help people, they help you. You just need to show that your business is worthy of their attention.

How to know whether your social selling is effective

To have a better sense of direction and be more efficient when you sell socially, you need to be able to measure your results. The most accurate way of doing this is to measure your efficiency with the help of the social selling index (SSI). Although there is still no formula to calculate the correlation between your social media activity and the number of deals closed, you can receive some metrics and check your social selling aptitude using the LinkedIn SSI tool. Besides, you can also export your data and delegate analysis to a CRM system.

The Bottom Line

If you read to this point without running to your social media platforms to start selling socially immediately, I must have failed to explain how effective social selling is. Let me try one last time: lots of sales with minimum effort, great brand image, and thousands of prospects! Sold? Sold!

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