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social selling strategy
June 30, 2022

8 Social Selling Tips for Sales Reps to Build Presence and Attract B2B Buyers

social selling strategy

This article originally appeared on Crunchbase.

Think of the last product you wanted to buy. You may have learned about it while casually browsing social media or seeing it in a viral post. Then you probably continued searching social media to see what other users were saying about the product, finding tutorials for how the product worked, etc. All those actions culminated in your final decision-making process. This scenario highlights the role social media plays in the purchase process today. Social media plays a similar role with buyers during the B2B sales cycle.

In 2020, Gartner reported that about 46% of B2B buyers use social media for early-stage sales cycle tasks, such as learning about the different solutions available for solving their unique problem or need; 40% use it for middle-stage tasks, such as comparing different solutions; and 35% use it for late-stage tasks, such as identifying need-to-know information regarding potential solutions before finally making a purchase. These percentages are expected to grow as millennial and Gen Z consumers come into buying power, with 60% estimated to prefer making purchases on social platforms over traditional digital commerce platforms by 2026.

Modern B2B buyers rely on social media research throughout the sales process in order to make an informed decision. With that in mind, it’s no longer optional for sellers to have a social presence. They need one or they risk missing out on reaching key audiences.

Integrating Social Selling into a Sales Strategy

With social media being a reference and research point for many prospective customers, sales reps need strategies to ensure their profile stays top of mind. That’s where social selling comes in.

Social selling—the process of using social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, to create relationships, define a reputation, gain visibility among a target market, deliver value to a target market, and establish credibility—is the approach today’s sales reps need to connect with B2B buyers during the sales cycle. For social selling to be effective, sales reps must build a presence and continually invest in it with a consistent cadence of content and ongoing engagement with users.

One of the best sites to utilize social selling is LinkedIn. According to research from RAIN Group, 82% of buyers look up a seller on LinkedIn before replying to a prospecting effort. It’s evident that sales reps having an attractive profile is a prerequisite for connecting with potential buyers and persuading them to proceed further in the sales cycle.

Building a presence takes time, but there’s an art to it that ensures sellers deliver value to your audience and stand out to B2B buyers.

8 Social Selling Best Practices

Here are eight best practices to consider when developing a social selling strategy:

1. Choose Followers over Connections

While social media allows users to connect with people they know and acquaintances, those aren’t the people to target in a social selling strategy. Instead, invest time in attracting followers (i.e., prospects). Followers see content and intentionally follow a creator based on it. They have a vested interest in what’s being offered and shared, so continuing to grow and nurture that relationship is vital.

Finding the right followers requires going where they are. Reps can scout hashtags or groups to locate their target audience and begin crafting content that appeals to their interests.

2. Show the Human Behind the Profile

Authenticity is heavily valued nowadays. People don’t want curated, branded statements meant to hit all the right notes. They want flaws, vulnerabilities, and transparency. They want to know there’s a human on the other side of the screen. Encouraging sales team members to share various branded and nonbranded content can help showcase the person underneath it all, endearing followers to their profile.

3. Share Content with Context

There’s a misconception that sharing content is all it takes to develop a presence on social media. Anyone can share content. It’s what’s added to the conversation that can make a seller stand out from the crowd. When sharing content, sellers should add an opinion or expound on why it caught their attention. Over time, followers will look forward to hearing the perspective they bring to the table.

4. Remember, It’s Not All About You

What sales reps have to say is important, but it’s important to amplify other voices, as well. Those include industry influencers, colleagues, and company executives. Solely having self-promotional posts can be perceived as too self-serving and potentially off-putting to followers. Centering other people allows a diversity of thought on a seller’s profile, attracting followers and establishing a reciprocal relationship with the people featured. In other words, they’ll be inclined to do the same for the seller on their profile. One tip is to follow the 1-in-10 rule: Having one self-promotional post is OK if the other nine aren’t.

5. Comment to Build Engagement

A simple way to build engagement is to comment on posts. Have reps comment on their followers’ posts and respond to comments they receive on theirs. Doing this regularly feeds the connection and makes followers likely to leave comments. The more comments a post receives, the more visibility it’ll get, which could result in it going viral—furthering a rep’s social reach and engagement. Reps’ colleagues can also help improve visibility by commenting/sharing their co-workers’ posts.

6. Use Past Experiences to Power Content

There’s never a dull moment in sales, especially with various prospect interactions throughout the day. Have sellers take advantage of this by using their experiences to fuel content. For instance, if a particular objection frustrated a seller, ask them to post about it and share insights on what they learned and what they could have done better. What they experienced can turn into a teachable moment for followers, and it may end up encouraging others to share their similar experiences.

7. Keep a Content Library Handy

A drawback to a social selling strategy is consistently ensuring there’s content in the pipeline to share. A way to prepare in advance is by gathering ideas that stand out throughout the day. Maybe a rep talked to a supervisor who helped improve the way they sell, or a co-worker helped them through a frustrating morning of cold calls. Have them write down what was said and create a post based on that. Over time, they’ll have a library of content ideas ready to develop and post.

8. Don’t Let Excuses Deter Reps from Getting Started

Building a social media presence is a daunting task filled with trial and error to see what attracts an audience. It’s easy for reps to make excuses not to post, such as feeling like they’re not an expert, being unsure of what to post, or worrying about lack of engagement. Remind them that building a following takes time; they won’t gain 10,000 followers overnight. But relay that even the people who currently have 10,000 followers started with zero, which means they can achieve the same success. Someone out there is interested in what they have to say.

Social media is a powerful tool for reaching B2B buyers. Effective social selling can position sales reps as insightful resources for B2B buyers, who might otherwise ignore their outreach attempts. By following the best practices outlined above, sellers can have a social presence that resonates with prospects and eventually converts them into customers.

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