Today 90 percent of customers will do a search on Google before buying a product or service. Which means your B2B company needs to be more engaged online, especially if you are selling something. And I don’t mean just having a website about your business or a company LinkedIn page that remains untouched. I am talking about social selling – the process of developing relationships as part of the digital and physical sales process – online. Examples of social selling techniques include sharing relevant content, interacting directly with potential buyers and customers, personal branding, and social listening.
Social selling has many benefits and advantages that are ancillary to the close of the sale. However, there are a few main goals of social selling you should know first:
- It elevates awareness
- It enhances ongoing marketing and PR initiatives
- It creates and nurtures leads, business contacts and customers through social selling via the sales force
- It can drive traffic for events
- It showcases corporate culture
- It communicates subject matter expertise and establishes thought leadership
In fact, more than eight in 10 sales professionals cite social selling tools as “important” or “very important” for closing deals. LinkedIn’s latest research in May 2016, on social selling, found that 90 percent of top sales professionals are using social selling tools, compared with 71 percent of overall sales. They use social selling tools, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, to reach prospects, and close business. In fact, sales professionals see relationship-building tools as having the highest impact on revenue. That said, social selling does more than just meet monthly sales quotas, it also:
- Reinforces and strengthens real-world relationships
- Offers easy way to stay in touch―instant connections
- Provides channel to leverage network for warmer referrals and introductions
- Showcases career and company accomplishments
- Serves as a way to gather input/start discussions/get answers
- Helps keep your perspectives and insight top-of-mind
- Opens the door for conversations that can accelerate the lead generation and nurturing process
That means if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you need to be social selling. These and many other insights are from the recent LinkedIn study, The State of Sales in 2016 (PDF, no opt-in, 10 pp.).
According to the LinkedIn study, salespeople who excel at social selling create more opportunities and are 51 percent more likely to hit quota. Top sales professionals rely on social networking to create lasting business relationships both online and offline, and ultimately, to close more deals. However, it isn’t enough that you simply have a LinkedIn page, you need to make sure your LinkedIn page is impressive.
Make sure your LinkedIn page is fleshed out with your best credentials possible, with special attention to your summary paragraph. Talk about yourself in a way that resonates with prospects and customers, and motivate people to connect with you because they see potential value from the interaction. Using your company’s content as well as industry articles and other online content, share content that relays that you know how to solve their problems with your products or services. You have to be engaged on the channels and publish on those pages, or you will never be noticed by the very prospects you want to close.
Being the Expert
Peers, influencers and thought leaders are the most influential force on C-level executives and buyers. The longer you have been an expert in your industry, the more competitive you are online. It all matters, but it means nothing if you are not placing this information online and continually demonstrating that expertise, knowledge, etc., to your customers, prospects, followers and peers.
That means if you are an executive of a company that doesn’t have a LinkedIn page, and you are not posting your appearances at conferences from speeches given on the company website, or your latest blog with fresh seeds of knowledge on your LinkedIn page, then no one will know you are a credentialed expert that a customer can trust. You also lose out on the chance to garner higher SEO value in the search engine.
Your Pipeline is your Lifeline
Your social selling pipeline now makes your social network a sales lifeline. The more you network on social platforms, the stronger your relationship with prospects can be – resulting in increased trust and brand recognition, and the more your pipeline is filled with prospects. Successful sales professionals take problems shared by prospects and then provide solutions via their social networks to engage and create a relationship that has a positive emphasis. Industry leaders attract prospects for any of their sales staff by simply being part of the branding of the company, and being connected to their team.
In fact, social selling has a huge impact on the speed of sales, simply due to the fact that prospects have access to online reviews, social feedback, tweets, blog posts, articles shared from authoritative publications, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. And just as the speed of sales has increased, so has the impact on the feedback loop. If people don’t like the product, they don’t hesitate to voice it out on social media or write emails. However, this kind of communication doesn’t have to be seen as negative because social selling means you can communicate with the unhappy immediately. You can turn that engagement into opportunity.
No one wants to be sold to; they want engaging conversations.
Need help getting your executive team more engaged in social selling? If so, talk to us about how we can help take your company’s social selling skills up a notch.