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Businesses thrive on relationships built on mutual understanding and trust. This is why you should approach prospects with the intent to spark a connection and establish common ground early on. But doing this can prove difficult when the channels of interaction are cold phone calls and emails or unsolicited office calls. 

There is a more tactful way to initiate and nurture relationships with prospects. It’s called social selling.

What’s Social Selling?

Social selling is using social media to connect with and engage prospects with the aim of converting them into customers in the long run. The idea is to get on the platforms your prospects are on and win their trust by interacting with them and offering value.

But why is social selling even a thing? And how’s it different from what salespeople have always done? Think of the regular sales process as being interruptive. You cold-call people who might not want to speak to you and ask for a meeting they might or might not be interested in. Sometimes, these people merely tolerate this intrusion and at other times, they slam their doors in your face. The reason is simple; they feel they don’t know you and you haven’t earned the kind of audience you want.

But social selling adopts a different approach in generating and nurturing leads. It sneaks you into the prospect’s life as someone who cares and matters. It helps you establish a relationship by creating an apt context for business-related discussions. 

With social selling, you can initiate conversations about industry issues and the solutions you provide without spooking your prospects. Why? Because you are offering value upfront and building credibility as a result. Social selling isn’t spamming people with unsolicited messages on social media. It’s engaging, educating and helping them with relevant views, then asking for something in return (later).

Why Should Care About Social Selling?

For one, social selling gets you through the door with little hassles – provided you know what you’re doing, of course. For instance, 90% of decision-makers say they never respond to cold calls. In contrast to this, 76% of buyers are ready to have social media conversations with salespeople and 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who share useful insights and opportunities.

But what if all these interactions end in pointless chit-chat? You might ask. Well, they don’t usually turn out that way. When done right, they produce real results for businesses and there’s a truckload of evidence to prove this. 78% of salespeople practising social selling are outselling their peers who are not. There’s more. According to a social selling study involving more than 45,000 sales reps and 200 companies, every $1 invested in social selling yields a return of $5! 

It’s clear that by building relationships on social media, you are looking at better opportunities at generating quality leads and closing sales. What more could you ask for? Hold that thought. A study by Aberdeen Group shows that social selling leads to improved performance in several vital sales metrics like quota attainment, renewal rate and forecast accuracy. 

Social Selling the Way it should be done

Choose the Right Platform

It’s okay to maintain a decent presence on a few social channels but it pays to focus your energy on the platforms where your target audience hangs out. If your prospects are business decision-makers, according to Forrester Research, you should set up shop on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you deal with consumers, then Facebook and Instagram are the places to be.

Demonstrate Expertise

On social media, no one’s going to trust you for talking up your product or service. The best way to build credibility and engender trust is to offer value to your prospects. Prove your expertise by sharing industry insights and contributing meaningfully to conversations. Look out for industry-specific questions and answer them generously. Don’t forget to also join groups relevant to your industry on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. 

Keep Your Ears to the Ground

On social media, everyone talks. That B2B executive who is withholding details from you over a cold call is pouring his heart out to his gazillion social media followers and connections. He’s talking about problems at work and pining for solutions. The moral of the story? Listen to what your prospects are saying and you just might find the right opening to steer the conversation in the direction of your service or product.

With some tact, you can engage prospects via their posts and probe for details that could serve as the basis of your offering later on. You can also use social listening tools like Google Alerts to stay abreast of discussions and updates related to your field.

Social Selling on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a happy hunting ground for B2B salespeople looking to take up social selling. To maximize the platform, do the following:

  • Polish your profile: Your profile should reflect your expertise. A good rule of thumb is to include the solutions you offer and some results you’ve produced. Feel free to ask for recommendations from your connections – there’s nothing like some good ol’ social proof.
  • Network with peers and prospects on LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry. You can find them using the search feature or by following LinkedIn’s suggestions.
  • Expand your reach: Discover new connections based on your existing relationships by using the advanced search. 

LinkedIn also offers useful social selling tools like its Sales Navigator which can help you find the right prospects. There’s also its Social Selling Index that tells you how well you’re doing on social selling based on four metrics. You can use this value to gauge your social selling methods on LinkedIn and tweak them accordingly.

Sell like a Human

We are hard-wired to crave connections. The fulfilment of this longing dictates who we choose to listen to or be influenced by. This is why you will be better off forging a bond with your prospects before pushing for a deal. So how do you do it? Lead with value. And where’s a great place to start? Social media.


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