Why do we need a social selling?
Prospective buyers identify problems, discover needs, and create a list of prospective solutions online, long before you get the call. They breeze through this based on online search—instead of—leveraging the expertise and insights of sales professionals, gained over a lifelong career. And so, as sales professionals, we find ourselves having to bid on price, or worse, are not invited to bid at all. If this sounds familiar, you should consider a social selling campaign.
How does social selling work?
I don’t find myself buying a lot from friends or peers, however, for most purchases, I do consult with friends or peers. And that is the key to social selling. Social selling engages your best asset, your sales team, to spread the word around using their sales expertise in combination with their network.
A meaningful network
Sales professionals across industries will tell you that there is a lot more business value in their network over a purchased “lead list.” Every day social media is proving they are right.
Social selling leverages your sales force’s network by sharing meaningful content, on a social media network like LinkedIn, to bring your company’s solution to the full attention of prospective clients, early on in the process, when a client is defining requirements and exploring solutions.
No need to know everyone
For social selling to work, it is not required for the sales force to have a personal connection with every prospective client. Social networking is designed to take place in the second degree of your network. As long as sales professionals have between 200 and 500 relevant connections, success can be achieved.
What does social selling entail?
A recent blog post by Mark Schaeffer, titled The fundamentals of a social selling campaign, identifies the elements of success during this stage:
- Meaningful content
- Engaged relationship
- Authenticity and sincerity in your willingness to help a client
It is important to recognize that should be seen from a client’s perspective, a client who has a problem that needs to get resolved. What content is meaningful to him/her? What does he/she considers to be helpful?
Social selling is not marketing
Today most organizations rely on marketing to manage social media. Marketing properly uses the company’s social media network and places meaningful content at watering holes frequented by prospective buyers, such as blog sites and LinkedIn groups. The results of these campaigns lead to increased awareness, measured by impressions and engagement. But they do not generate sales. The critical missing piece is the sales force providing their authentic insights, and extending their personal network:
- Marketing: Social Media Campaign = Awareness
- Sales: Social Selling Campaign = Deal Flow
The social selling campaign
The most effective way of social selling is to partner with marketing and rally your sales team around a compelling event like a trade show, or a new product/service release. This creates a focused effort, or a social selling campaign.
Your first social selling campaign
Unlike most corporate initiatives, a social selling campaign does not rely on a centralized technology of sorts; it can be implemented today by any sales leader who is ready to unleash the power of the sales force. Here is how you start:
- Together with marketing, pick a compelling event,
- Develop meaningful content that matches your client’s journey,
- Introduce your sales force to social selling with a training session,
- Let your sales force publish the content on LinkedIn and Twitter.
If you want to learn more, or better yet get started today, click here.