What Is Social Selling?

How many connections do you have on LinkedIn? A lot of salespeople think because they have a social media account that they know how to do social selling. But social selling is a lot more than sharing an occasional post.  

The fact of the matter is social selling takes strategy and finesse. It calls for identifying your ideal customers, determining your goal, developing a program, creating content, and executing. “Spray and pray” is not a viable option.

Most of all, it’s about being—like the phrase says—social. Leave your hard pitches behind and use social media to cultivate relationships with potential customers, create rapport, and establish yourself as an industry expert and authority.

It takes effort, but it’s well worth the time and energy. When you do social selling consistently, you can generate quality leads and referrals, book more meetings, and close more deals—all while building your personal brand.

Richard Smith, VP of Sales at Allego, has seen these benefits from social selling via LinkedIn over the past few years:

  • 80% of all meetings he personally generated in the past two years have been directly attributed to social selling or brand building.
  • 50% of all deals he personally closed in the past two years have been directly attributed to social selling and brand building.
  • He generated countless leads and referrals to his sales team.
  • Social selling has helped him get speaking gigs at events, land guest spots on podcasts and webinars, and boost awareness for the company.

Before you and your team can reach the same level as Smith, however, you must understand the fundamentals of social selling. Read on to learn what exactly social selling is, see how to create a social selling program, and get social selling examples.

What Is Social Selling?

Social selling is, as you would think, a sales technique that uses social media platforms to build relationships with potential customers and drive sales. Rather than relying on traditional sales methods, such as cold calling or email outreach, you use social media to engage with potential customers. By sharing relevant and valuable content and providing personalized communication, you build a rapport with prospects over time.

Social selling involves using social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to identify potential customers and connect with them. Sales professionals use these platforms to share content that highlights their industry expertise, engage with potential customers through comments and direct messaging, and build relationships that may lead to future sales opportunities.

Social selling techniques help you establish yourself as trusted experts and thought leaders in their industry. In doing so, they can create a pipeline of qualified leads that can ultimately drive revenue for their business.

6 Steps of a Strong Social Selling Strategy

A successful social selling strategy involves several key components that allow sales reps to build trust and credibility with potential customers, understand buyers’ needs and challenges, and provide value through personalized communication and relevant content.

To create your social selling strategy, follow these six steps:

  1. Define your target audience: Understand who your ideal customers are, what their pain points and challenges are, and where they spend their time on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
  2. Create a social media presence: Develop a professional and consistent presence on social media platforms that aligns with your brand and target audience. This applies to your company’s social media presence, as well as your sellers’. Sales reps should use a headshot as their profile picture, have an image at the top of their profile page (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook), and complete all the components on their profile page. Having a robust profile page helps establish credibility.
  3. Share valuable content: Regularly post relevant and engaging content, such as blog posts, articles, infographics, videos, and industry news, that provides value to your target audience and positions you as an industry expert.
  4. Engage with potential customers: Actively engage with your target audience through comments on their social posts, direct messages, and social media groups to build relationships, provide personalized communication, and understand their needs.
  5. Build relationships: Nurture relationships with potential customers over time through regular communication and demonstrate your value.
  6. Measuring success: Monitor and track key performance indicators (KPIs), such as lead generation, engagement rates, and conversion rates to evaluate the effectiveness of your social selling strategy. Adjust as needed.

What Are the Benefits of Social Selling?

By following the steps in their social selling strategy, sales reps and their businesses will see several positive effects—all of which help drive revenue growth and business success. Benefits of social selling include:

  • Strong relationships with buyers and prospects: Social selling allows sales professionals to engage with potential customers in a more personalized and meaningful way.
  • Credibility and thought leadership: By sharing valuable content and insights on social media platforms, sales reps position themselves as industry experts.
  • Lead generation: Social selling can help sales reps identify and connect with potential customers who may be interested in their products or services, generating new leads and sales opportunities.
  • Improved customer retention: Building strong relationships with customers through social selling can lead to increased loyalty and repeat business.
  • Save money: Compared to sales methods such as cold calling and advertising, social selling can be a cost-effective way to reach potential customers and generate leads.

What Are Examples of Social Selling?

Sales reps and businesses can employ different strategies and tactics as part of their social selling strategy. Their specific approach will depend on the individual sales professional, their target audience, and their industry.

Here are a few examples of social selling in action:

  • LinkedIn outreach: A sales rep might use LinkedIn to identify potential customers in their target audience, connect with them, and send personalized messages to start a conversation.

  • Sharing valuable content: Sales reps can share blog posts, articles, or industry news on social media platforms to establish themselves as thought leaders and provide value to potential customers.

  • Social media advertising: Using social media advertising to target specific demographics or interests can help businesses reach new potential customers who may be interested in their products or services.

  • Social listening: Sales professionals can use social listening tools to monitor social media platforms for mentions of their company or industry and identify potential sales opportunities.

  • Personalized communication: Rather than using generic sales pitches, sales reps can peruse prospective customers’ social media activity to develop personalized messages. Communicating in a personalized and meaningful way helps build stronger relationships and trust over time.

    Example: A prospect posts on LinkedIn that they started a new job as a sales manager. A seller could then send the person a message that says, “I noticed you started a new job as a sales manager at [company name]. Congratulations! That’s a great step forward in your career! But I know the job can be challenging. I just read a fantastic eBook about sales leadership that I think you’d like. …”

  • Creating and participating in online communities: Sales professionals can join and engage with online communities, such as industry groups on LinkedIn, to connect with potential customers and build relationships over shared interests. Stay away from salesy posts and pitches, though, or you risk getting kicked out. Stick with sharing opinions, ideas, and helpful content.

How to Create a Social Selling Program at Your Company

On their own, individual sales reps can benefit from social selling. If it is a company-wide effort, however, the rewards increase exponentially. For that effort to succeed, you need a social selling program.

Follow these six steps to get your social selling program off the ground.

  1. Define your goals and objectives: What do you want to achieve with your social selling program? Are you looking to increase lead generation, improve conversion rates, or build stronger customer relationships?
  2. Develop a strategy: Create a social selling strategy that aligns with your overall business strategy. This strategy should include a plan for identifying and targeting potential customers, determining the social media platforms sellers should use, creating valuable content, engaging with your target audience on social media, and measuring success.
  3. Choose the right social media tools: For your company’s social selling efforts, the marketing team may want to use a social media management tool (Buffer, HootSuite, or Later, for example), social listening tools (Brand24, SproutSocial, Synthesio, for example) or analytics software. Sales reps may also want to use a social media management tool to track and monitor their social activity and engagement.
  4. Train your sales team: Social selling requires a different approach to sales than traditional methods, so it is important to train your sales team on social selling best practices. This training should include how to use social media platforms, how to engage with potential customers in a personalized way, and how to measure success.
  5. Develop content: Creating valuable and engaging content is a key component of social selling. Develop a social media marketing plan that includes blog posts, videos, infographics, and other types of content that are relevant to your target audience. Encourage employees, especially your sales reps, to engage with your posts (like, comment, and/or share).
  6. Implement and measure success: After your social selling program is up and running, it is important to measure success. Monitor key metrics such as lead generation, engagement rates, and conversion rates to determine the effectiveness of your program and adjust as needed.

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