Social Selling 101: Mastering the Art of Social Selling

In a contest between Fido and Facebook there is a clear winner, and it isn’t the family pet. Americans are now spending more time on Facebook than they do with their own pets. With all of this time being spent on social media, companies need to develop a strategy for how they can sell on the platforms. This isn’t something you want to miss out on, 78 percent of salespeople are using social media outsell their peers.

Social selling is about establishing credibility, strengthening your bond with potential buyers, and winning new clients. But companies can’t rely on just one social media channel. Consumers are seeking out information, from reading product reviews to looking at your current clients, before making a purchase decision. In fact, research is an integral part of the buying cycle. The average consumer views more than one piece of content prior to making a purchase, and almost 90 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. With an effective social selling strategy, you can establish your professional brand, demonstrate expertise, and build relationships.  

Establish Your Professional Brand

The first step to establishing your brand is to create a strong profile within your social networks. Make sure to include a clear picture (preferably with your brand’s logo) and full bio. Add in any relevant links and include pertinent keywords. List your skills as a simple, efficient way to show your prospects how you can help them.  Consider linking your social profiles together, for example, LinkedIn and Twitter, to maximize your exposure. 81 percent of buyers are more likely to engage with a strong, professional brand and 92 percent of B2B buyers engage with sales professionals if they are known industry thought leaders.

Once you have created or updated your profile, you can work on building and expanding your social network. Follow pertinent accounts on Twitter and look to join relevant industry groups on LinkedIn. Leverage warm introductions to expand your network. Add all of your social profiles to your email signature so it is front and center when communicating with your clients. Begin to share high-quality information that is helpful and contextually appropriate for followers.

Demonstrate Expertise

Share conversation worthy updates to grow relationships. Leverage content your marketing teams create for you, from blogs to infographics, white papers to case studies, and share it on your networks. Nearly 64 percent of B2B buyers report that they appreciate hearing from a salesperson who provides knowledge or insight about their business. Additionally, follow and reshape content from key industry players, these can include colleagues, clients, and prospects.

Listen to your prospects’ and clients’ worries and struggles and cater your content to help them succeed. Stay in the know with timely content and use relevant information when reaching out. Rise above the competition by delivering solid content and providing actionable takeaways. Always customize messages using the information you have learned about the person you are contacting. When sharing information be sure to leverage tools like bit.ly to shorten your links and track engagement.

Build Relationships

You can’t sit on the sidelines. You have to join the conversation to fully embrace social selling. One of the best ways to strengthen your network is by connecting and establishing trust with decision makers. People want to work and partner with those they know and can depend on. 73 percent of B2B buyers prefer sales professionals who have been referred by someone they know and 87 percent of B2B buyers said they would have a favorable impression of a salesperson who was introduced to them through someone in their professional network.

When using LinkedIn it is best to engage with people you know or have met. Blind invitations to connect are often moved directly into the trash. It is easier to be bolder with introductions on a platform like Twitter, where there is a greater ability to connect with peers without establishing a formal connection first. The key though is to grow your network. A larger network gives you greater leverage in finding new prospects and new clients.

Connect internally so your colleagues will be able to provide warm introductions and then focus on building relationships with decision makers. Buying decisions now typically include 4-5 decision makers. Once you have made a connection develop the relationship. Reach out periodically at appropriate times and adding value by providing relevant information and solutions to your prospect or client’s business problems. Remember this is a two-way conversation and you want to talk with your fans instead of to your fans. Build relationships first, and allow sales to follow.

Invest your time and effort into leveraging social and it will help you outsell your peers. Focus on establishing your professional brand, demonstrating expertise, and building relationships to master social selling 101.

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