Social Selling: What Does it Actually Mean?
August 25, 2021
Social selling is a sales approach that incorporates building relationships with customers into the sales process. Essentially, the goal is to make potential customers become aware of you, like your brand, and trust you through social media sales and marketing activities. The ultimate goal is to have clients call you when they require your goods or services.
Building a trustworthy social media presence and strong relationships and connections with the right people are important aspects of social selling. If this part goes well, you can be sure of getting visible and respected by the people who call the shots at the companies. You will be well-placed to notice when they have a need that your firm can fill, and you’ll be in a better position to reach out and offer to help.
When working with B2B relationship sales and extended sales cycles, the potential of social selling is at its peak. The obvious social media choice here is LinkedIn, given it is the market’s best business-oriented site, but social selling may potentially be done on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well. Since social selling is essentially about building business relationships with existing and potential new clients, it may also occur offline during actual client interactions.
The social selling methodology, like many other trends, began in the United States, where it was a natural extension of the acclaimed “Sales 2.0” mindset, which is essentially the difficulties of returning to the first stages of the sales process or building influence with customers before a need arises.
The Basic Principles of Social Selling
A fundamental aspect of social selling is engaging potential clients without using the direct approach common with cold-canvasing tactics. An instance of cold canvassing is making unsolicited calls to individuals who have no prior knowledge of the salesperson because the first interaction between the seller and the potential buyer is “cold.”
Social selling also allows salespeople to build personal brands by sharing their talents and certifications on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. This step involves producing and sharing relevant material with their LinkedIn networks, such as blog posts, articles, videos, and podcasts, showcasing their expertise and enhancing their reputation.
Also, social selling entails “social listening,” which entails checking LinkedIn and other social media platforms for signals and information from your network. The goal is to develop relationships by listening, learning, and providing assistance or even find sales opportunities from their networks.
People often confuse social selling with social marketing—a common mistake. These are two distinct ideas. In contrast to social marketing, which targets marketing professionals involved in mass communication, social selling focuses more on salespeople who deal with personalized relationship selling.
Another mistake people make is thinking that social selling is usually associated with LinkedIn. That is not true. Social selling is both a technique and a mindset, and LinkedIn serving is only a tool for implementing the action plan. As a result, the social selling approach may be used to other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as long as the sites’ unique traits and quirks are maintained and followed. Nevertheless, LinkedIn is the most popular site for B2B relationship selling.
The Traditional Sales Model vs. Social Selling
Before delving into detail about what social selling entails, let’s take a look at how firms have traditionally handled sales. This sales model has been there for many years and often, sales include marketing, segmentation, lead qualifying, phone canvassing, and client meetings.
The reality is that many businesses still use the traditional sales model. A business advertises its products and services via printed catalogs, trade journals, newspapers, magazines, and exhibits and trade shows. They qualify leads using criteria like industry, location, staff strength, revenue, and whether they are a public or private firm. The salesperson will then call to schedule a meeting in an attempt to persuade them to do business with them.
This sales strategy has many dimensions, depending on the industry segment, but essentially, this method has been the norm for several years. The advent of the internet and Google, in particular, has altered customer’s purchasing habits. The salesman used to be in charge of the process under the conventional paradigm, but that no longer applies. Customers can now complete the entire sales process online without having to speak with a salesperson over the phone or meet physically.
Customers do not exactly like been marketed to, but it is hard to escape it nowadays, considering the sheer volume and frequency of sales communications. Many businesses gather e-mail addresses to connect with potential consumers and obtain data about their behavior, preferences, inclinations, and interests, among other things. Finally, businesses are increasingly leveraging this data for retargeting, considering consumers use the same information when visiting the company’s website, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram accounts.
Social Selling is the New Sales Model
Customers nowadays utilize search engines like Google as well as social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to discover answers to their problems, and they frequently seek suggestions from people on their network. The reality is that decision-makers nowadays the ability to specify their needs and acquire information through digital means. As a result, the salesperson is typically omitted from the majority of the sales process and only comes into play during price negotiation.
According to studies conducted by the American research firm, Forrester Research, the average consumer can now complete 60 to 90 percent of the entire purchase process before any contact with a salesperson. When it comes to selecting a solution and a provider, the contemporary decision-maker goes through the decision-making process independently.
As a result, the roles have been flipped, and the consumer now contacts the salesperson when they are ready to proceed with the purchase. Furthermore, as it becomes more feasible to add more goods to the online shopping basket, we are edging towards the point where a client can complete the full purchasing process without necessarily reaching out to a salesperson.
Social selling and the new sales model enter the picture at this point. These concepts prioritize the client and their problems, giving them ideas on how to solve their problems or discover new possibilities that will help them develop or expand their business. It’s also about building loyalty and actively engaging in social media conversations with customers.
The Philosophy of Social Selling
Accepting and taking into account why your network is on LinkedIn is critical when working with social selling. People are not using LinkedIn to be hounded by salespeople. Therefore, it’s critical that you respect the reasons why people use LinkedIn and that you take advantage of those reasons. This means you may give knowledge and inspiration to individuals on LinkedIn without bringing your products or direct marketing into the mix.
You can look at LinkedIn like an actual physical group. The truth is that you will probably make no headway with direct selling at the network group’s first meeting. It’s way too pushy and mistimed since people are gathering to network, know more about other members’ careers, and assist in resolving any challenges, which is how LinkedIn works.
Therefore, social selling deals with “unselling” and maintaining professionalism with your network.
Before You Begin, Define Your Approach
When it comes to incorporating social selling into day-to-day sales and marketing activities, one of the most common mistakes individuals make is posting online material without giving it any thought or context. Sadly, this implies that whatever message you wish to send will be lost in the sea of LinkedIn postings, and you will not stand out, which is contrary to your goal.
Therefore, before you begin, set your social selling strategy and tactics. You won’t have a clear vision to pursue without a strategy, and the chances of making mistakes are even higher and probably faster, too, considering that you believe you need visibility on LinkedIn and publish as often as possible.
The point is to create time to write down your strategy, which should include your strategic goals for your LinkedIn presence and everything you need to accomplish to support your strategy. You need to determine your purpose, the businesses to prioritize, when to inform the market of a certain product or service, the objectives of your social selling communications, the kind of people (decision-makers, influencers, and users) do you want to target and the platform and type of content to use.
Every three to six months, assess your social selling strategy and techniques to ensure that you focus on your strategic goals and put tangible measures in place to achieve them. In practice, social selling is about five basic points: being visible, being likable, creating trust, establishing relationships, and making sales. It all boils down to being able to motivate people to pick your products and services over others. You can do so by assisting them in resolving any problems or concerns they may be experiencing using internet resources such as posts, pictures, articles, DIY guides, reports and analysis, whitepapers, podcasts and videos.
Your social selling activities must remain customer-centric to grab a customer’s attention effectively. This is possible by learning about a customer’s genuine problems. When you know their circumstances and challenges, you can establish a link between them and your products and services without directly selling your products.
Keep in mind that your clients are considerably more concerned with their own issues than with your items. Therefore, focus on their difficulties and have an honest conversation about how to address them. This allows you to show actual value to the customer.