As modern buyers have greater access to information, reviews, and solutions to their business challenges, much of the sales process has shifted to digital platforms. These tools allow B2B buyers to perform more research and move further along the buyer’s journey before engaging with a salesperson. Thus, sales organizations need to implement strategies that leverage digital channels to find, engage and connect with target buyers.
One of the best opportunities is through social media platforms. LinkedIn® alone has more than 660 million professionals, providing a platform for sellers to share relevant content, develop their thought leadership, and build relationships with prospects to create more sales conversations, fill your organization’s pipeline, and improve win rates.
An effective social selling strategy clearly defines your target audience, the metrics that will define success, and templates for optimized social profiles and outreach to prospects. Continue reading to learn how social selling works, why your organization needs a social selling strategy and the other essential components of one.Today’s #buyers are more independent and search for solutions online. Has your #sales team adapted? Teach sellers how to leverage #digital platforms to find, engage and connect with your #prospects. @KurtShaver Click To Tweet
How Social Selling Works
Social selling is a technique to find your ideal buyers and develop long-term relationships built on trust. To achieve this, sellers provide value to potential customers with the goal of converting the online connection into an offline sales conversation.
Social selling is not selling on social media. Techniques such as sending automated messages to all your connections are not a strategy. Instead, social selling combines outbound prospecting and inbound marketing techniques.
Social sellers use LinkedIn® and LinkedIn® Sales Navigator to search for prospects based on title, or for organizations based on their size and location. For instance, sellers can leverage LinkedIn Boolean search strings to narrow their results, such as “VP or Director” and “Marketing” which will only show results for VPs and Directors in Marketing. Then, sellers can use additional filters to narrow the results even further, so they have a targeted list of prospects.
Social sellers also use inbound marketing techniques, which requires a different mindset and behavior than many reps are accustomed to. For instance, sellers should regularly share content that addresses the business challenges of prospects to develop their personal brand. They should also engage on the posts of their connections to continually expand their network.
These types of social selling activities increase the profile views sellers experience, similar to the way inbound marketing techniques increase the number of website visits. This increase in profile views is why optimizing your sales teams’ LinkedIn profiles is such an important piece of the social selling puzzle.
Techniques for Effective Social Selling
Social selling is the strategy of enabling sellers to find, engage and connect with your ideal prospects through social media channels. However, for social selling to have the desired impact on pipeline and conversions, it cannot be a random activity. Effective social sellers do not log on to LinkedIn® or other social platforms only when it is convenient and simply share a piece of content they find interesting or Like a post or two.
Instead, effective social sellers are consistent in their approach to sharing both company content, such as blogs, whitepapers, podcasts, and case studies, and third party content from reputable sources. Every post has a purpose and addresses a business challenge or pain point prospects feel at various stages of the customer journey.
Additionally, successful social sellers engage with a specific purpose. By leveraging the search functions mentioned earlier, they can find potential customers and engage with insights on their posts or comments. This is how sales reps convert random acts of social selling into purposeful digital selling activities.
Then, when sellers do connect with prospects, they need to follow the PVC Sales Methodology TM, which includes sending a personalized connection request, providing value (such as a piece of content) and include soft CTAs that move prospects closer to a purchasing decision.
While there may be some reps on your team who perform some of these activities, without a clearly defined social selling strategy, there is no consistency or ability to scale the processes across the team. That is why, in order to meet the changing behaviors of the modern buyer, it is essential for organizations to create, implement, and monitor a social selling strategy.A #SocialSelling strategy empowers your #sales team to perform #social activities with a purpose and a desired end result. @KurtShaver #DigitalSales #Business #SellingWithLinkedIn Click To Tweet
5 Reasons Why Your Company Needs a Social Selling Strategy
The modern buyer is digitally-connected, socially-engaged, mobile-attached, and video-hungry. They search for solutions to their business challenges through digital platforms and seek to connect with sellers who develop relationships by providing value.
When sales organizations provide sellers with a clear social selling strategy, reps are able to leverage digital and social platforms to build those relationships. Below are the five reasons you should implement a social selling strategy:
1. Increase productivity and seller performance.
The strategy guides your team when performing social selling activities to ensure sales reps have the mindset to make every engagement productive. This maximizes modern sales effectiveness and seller performance.
2. Leverage social prospecting.
Your ideal buyers are using social media platforms. However, without a defined social selling strategy, reps may not connect with your ideal buyer persona, use consistent messaging, or have the tools to scale their social selling activities. Consequently, time and effort are wasted. On the other hand, when sellers have been properly trained on how to use social media to prospect AND have the right messaging, they can scale their activities to connect with more target buyers and engage them throughout the sales funnel.
3. Measure ROI.
With a clearly defined strategy in place, you will be able to better track the ROI of different social selling tools and the impact social selling has on pipeline, win rates, and quota attainment. This simplifies progress reports to the C-Suite to ensure you have executive buy-in on this sales strategy.
4. Learning and development.
To become effective social sellers, reps must adopt a new mindset and change their behavior. These can only be achieved through social selling training that teaches key concepts and allows learners the opportunity to apply the lessons. The mistake many organizations make is trying to train sellers before the other elements of a social selling strategy are in place, such as creating buyer personas, playbooks, and buyer-centric profiles.A clearly defined #SocialSelling strategy helps increase productivity and seller performance. With a strategy in place, your sellers obtain a mindset to make every #social action productive. @KurtShaver #SalesTip #Leadership Click To Tweet
5. Effective sales coaching.
A social selling strategy doesn’t stop after the training. To achieve continued success, you must provide sellers with on-going social selling coaching to reinforce the behaviors taught during training and to provide insights into the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ behind different actions.
For instance, by tracking which tools were used at each stage of the buyer’s journey, you can identify which are most valuable to the highest performing reps. If they are leveraging LinkedIn® Sales Navigator more during prospecting than sellers who aren’t attaining quota, you can coach the under-performing reps on how to use Sales Navigator.
This enables you to reinforce social selling best practices and course-correct the behaviors of reps throughout the year to ensure they have the tools and skills to attain their number. And, these coaching techniques allow you to implement consistent processes and actions throughout the sales process through the entire team.Effective #sales coaching guides your sellers on the best #ModernSelling practices, which can improve your #SocialSelling strategy by focusing on the right areas. @KurtShaver #SalesLeadership #SalesCoaching Click To Tweet
6 Components of a Successful Social Selling Strategy
Social selling is an integral part of a digital selling program. In fact, developing a social selling strategy requires many of the same components. However, social selling is limited to social media platforms whereas digital selling encompasses other digital channels, such as video, text, email, and instant messaging.
When creating your social selling strategy, be sure to include the following six components.
#1: Define Goals and Success Metrics
Increased social selling activities should lead to an increase in:
- Sales conversations.
- Converting conversations to opportunity.
- Win rates.
These key metrics define the success of your strategy to help secure continued executive buy-in and ensure that sellers understand how social selling success is measured.
#2: Create Ideal Buyer Persona
As mentioned throughout this article, social selling improves sellers’ ability to prospect. But, without clearly defined buyer personas, sellers may not be searching for the correct target audience.
Therefore, creating buyer personas is an essential component to implement your strategy. Then, sellers can search for prospects using Boolean search strings as discussed earlier. For instance, if you are a business insurance company, your target buyers are C-level executives. Reps can narrow their search using the search strings such as “CFO or VP” and “Finance.” This is just one of the ways commercial insurance brokers can use LinkedIn® to build their book of business.
#3: Identify Social Media Platforms to Leverage
Part of creating the ideal buyer persona is determining which social media platforms your target buyers use most often. The best networking channel for B2B companies is LinkedIn®, as most professionals and decision-makers use the platform to build professional networks and find solutions to their business challenges.
However, your target market may use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social channels more often. Consequently, your reps should also consider using them to engage and connect with your prospects. This means that you must provide reps with training on how to optimize their profiles, develop a cadence, and leverage that network for referrals so they can maximize their time on the platform.
#4: Optimize Social Media Profiles with Buyer-Centric Messaging
Your sellers’ social media profiles are their digital representation to potential customers. Their profiles are the equivalent of their elevator pitch at a conference or networking event. The plus side is that they have more space to share who they help and how they’ve helped clients in the past. They also have an opportunity to share content that addresses the pain points of their target buyers.
The downside is that many reps are not taking advantage of this real estate. Too often, we see entire sales teams with LinkedIn® profiles that look more like resumes. They include terms such as “Quota Crusher” or phrases like “achieved President’s Club 12 consecutive quarters.” This is me-centric messaging that does not provide the foundation for a long-term relationship with buyers.
Part of any successful social selling strategy is optimizing the social profiles of your sellers with buyer-centric messaging that builds trust and increases the likelihood that prospects will want to engage in a sales conversation. Additionally, when optimized properly by applying LinkedIn SEO, sellers are more likely to appear in searches as prospects seek solutions to their business challenges.The first step to creating a successful #SocialSelling strategy is to define company goals and #success metrics. This helps streamline social activities to produce a desired end result. More tips from @KurtShaver. #Leadership Click To Tweet
#5: Develop a Social Cadence
Effective social sellers are consistent. They regularly share relevant content, engage on the posts of others, and connect with clients and prospects to expand their networks.
Thus, you should develop a social cadence that keeps sellers consistent in their social selling activities. Through a defined sales cadence, your reps won’t share content randomly or whenever they have time. Instead, those random acts of social selling will drive a consistent digital selling approach.
#6: Leverage Network for Referral Introductions
According to HubSpot, 84% of B2B decision-makers begin their buying process with a referral. Social selling is perfect for developing relationships with existing clients or partners so they can provide referral introductions.
However, like many of the other aspects of a social selling strategy, if sellers aren’t provided with specific messaging or techniques, they may not ask for referrals. In fact, in our State of Digital Selling with LinkedIn® Report, 55% of the 862 reps surveyed responded that they had not asked for an introduction or referral in the past three months or they didn’t know if they had.
Consequently, part of the sales strategy should be to provide sellers with templates on the messaging they can use to ask for a referral. This helps scale the process so they can ask for more introductions. Additionally, part of a comprehensive training should include how to ask for referrals. For instance, we teach sellers to find three to five people who share a connection with a prospect and ask for an introduction. Then, the seller can choose the person who has the closest relationship to move forward with the introduction.
A second option is through a social surrounding strategy, where reps build relationships with the prospect’s colleagues and direct reports on LinkedIn®. Then, reps can ask for a referral introduction from one or more of those connections, which will have more impact because it comes from someone the prospect trusts.When you measure the ROI of your #SocialSelling strategy, you can pinpoint areas that need improvement. It also reveals your company’s #leadership the impact of social selling in your pipeline. @KurtShaver #Prospecting Click To Tweet
Build a Social Selling Strategy
A clearly defined social selling strategy enables reps to leverage digital platforms to find, engage, and connect with prospects to start more sales conversations and build relationships. As part of your strategy, supply sellers with the value messaging they need, playbooks with scripts, and proven techniques they should use to create consistency throughout your team in how sellers use social channels.
Is your team effectively leveraging digital channels to create more sales conversations? Get your own Digital Sales Assessment report to discover the current state of your sales team’s digital selling skills.