Social Selling - A marathon and not a sprint
Be where your contacts are. That is, in a nutshell, the summary of my Article about Social Selling in B2B from the past year. Social selling, virtual sales, hybrid selling, remote sales ... behind these terms is a mix of today's sales and consulting channels for sales. The Corona pandemic in particular has drastically strengthened the trend towards hybrid sales.
Social selling as a sales channel
Social selling (also called social commerce) is specifically about using a brand's social media channels. The goal is to get in touch with leads, build a relationship with them by actively posting interesting messages and thus interact with the potential clientele. This tactic helps companies achieve their sales goals.
Social selling should therefore be seen as a modern form of relationship building. If you, as part of the sales team, actively engage with potential customers on social media, you can be the first brand they consider, provided they are ready to buy. In addition, you can use social selling to complement, and perhaps even replace, traditional relationship-building and sales methods such as cold calling.
What Social Selling is not
Social selling is not about bombarding strangers with unsolicited messages. That is spam. And that should be avoided, of course. Social selling is also not just about filling your address list with new contacts. Rather, it is important to make the interactions meaningful and to position one's own brand as the solution to a problem. If you succeed in this, you take the first step towards building trust and loyalty.
And where do you find your contacts?
The diversity of social media seems almost infinite. This is shown by the social media prism often mentioned in the relevant professional articles. It is still topical if one wants to visually visualise the quantity and possibilities of the platforms.
Despite the large offer, it is advisable to focus on selected networks. The most important starting point for the choice should always be the following question: Where can I find my target group?
In the B2B sector, the leading business platforms are the international network LinkedIn and in the DACH region also XING. In my opinion, LinkedIn is clearly the trend. Here, a modern orientation scores points with regard to user guidance and the offer of many effective tools for marketing and sales. LinkedIn is also a leader in content marketing. In addition, the international orientation offers a wider reach. You are welcome to visit my profile on LinkedIn or follow the beDirect Company Profile.
Best practices for social selling
Regardless of which platform you use to reach your target audience, use proven best practices for your social selling:
Establish your brand by offering added value.
When interacting with leads and customers via social media networks, you should not be too sales-oriented. If your brand is new to a social media platform, don't jump into social selling right away. Before you rush into the sales pitch, you should rather consolidate your position as a Industry expert.
One way to build your brand on social media for social selling is to post interesting, valuable and shareable content. For example, B2B brands and industry influencers could share content from others that fits their brand.
You can also take the initiative and write and publish interesting content with value for others to establish your brand or personal brand as a thought leader in the industry. For example, you share business-specific content that may be of interest to the company's professional network: In principle, you should show your followers that you are not only after your sales - but also want to give something to others: added value.
Engage in strategic listening and build relationships with the right people.
Effective social selling means being attentive. And that means that you absolutely Social Listening should be doing. Social listening means "monitoring" your social media platforms for mentions and conversations related to your brand. You then analyse these to gain insights and discover opportunities for action.
Use social media lists and search streams to track what people are saying about you, your business, your industry and your competitors. Pay particular attention to pain points and requests for recommendations. Both offer you opportunities to provide the solution to a problem.
Whenever possible, you should also use your existing network. Before reaching out to the leads you have identified, check who they are following and who they are following to find common contacts. If this is the case, ask your common contact for an introduction.
Instead of writing one message and sending it to countless potentials, take the time to personalise your social selling messages. This means that you
- refer to your common professional contacts,
- refer to content that you have both shared or reacted to,
- highlight a common interest or other commonality.
In other words, be authentic. Establish a connection by starting a genuine conversation. Of course, you could use automated tools for liking and commenting, but these do nothing to build a relationship. On the contrary - they can do serious damage to your personal and professional brand. When it comes to selling, nothing can replace interaction with a real human being.
Last but not least, do not expect immediate results. So don't give up immediately if your relationship-building efforts don't produce immediate results. Some contacts may not be ready to accept what you are offering. Stay in touch anyway.
Conclusion: Reach out to new leads. Reach out to contacts you've been in touch with but haven't heard from in a while. Cultivate meaningful relationships by congratulating people on a new professional position or a move to another company, for example. Also interact with the content they share on social media.
Always be ready to offer advice or help, even if it is not directly promoting your product.
My tip: For whatever network - Your social media profile should be professionally prepared. Take the time for it!