Right now, there’s never been a better time to be in sales. In this era of social media, buyers are constantly connected online. They’re learning more about your company, your offerings and, of course, your competitors. As a result, they’re more knowledgeable than the traditional sales approach allows for. Meaning that social media has changed the buying and selling processes. The fact is, if you’re not mastering social selling as a part of your sales strategy, you’re missing out. Social Selling provides you with a unique opportunity to influence buyers. So if you’re ready to increase sales -keep reading to discover 10 essential social selling strategies every salesperson needs to know and use.
In this ultimate guide to Social Selling, you will learn:
- The definition of social selling
- The benefits of social selling
- Popular social selling channels
- 10 essential social media selling strategies to prospect, position and present as the ideal solution.
- Social Selling FAQs
What Is Social Selling?
Social Selling is a sales method that practices incorporating social networks into every stage of the sales process, from prospecting to positioning yourself as an expert, connecting on social media and nurturing prospects through the sales funnel until you’re ready to present a solution. However, social selling doesn’t replace sales fundamentals but seeks to evolve them. Ultimately, social media selling provides sales professionals with the opportunity to engage with future customers directly without even picking up the phone: no more buying lists, cold calls or poorly qualified prospects.
Adopting social media in selling increases the scope of your influence by making it possible for you to cast a wider net. You can reach an unlimited number of prospects from all over the world and present them with reasons for choosing to approach your company.Tom Abbott – Social Selling – 10 Essential Strategies to Prospect, Position and Present on Social Media.
To summarise, social selling is the process of using social media platforms and tools to:
- Create valuable relationships that generate leads
- Establish your authority and market reputation
- Gain visibility among your ideal customers
- Deliver helpful content to your target market
- Establish credibility and trustworthiness
Benefits of Social Selling
While social selling has helped create improved and effective sales processes, bringing in more sales as a result – there’s a lot more to be happy about when it comes to the benefits. Let’s explore some of the benefits of this sales method below:
- Improved customer retention: Social selling improves trust with previous customers by naturally being less intrusive than calling in and following up to promote and update them on products. All salespeople need to do now is be available for any questions they might have.
- Shortens the sales cycle: While social selling reduces the sales cycle overall, it mainly helps reduce salespeople’s time prospecting. Statistics show that about 39% of B2B professionals said social tools reduce their time researching prospective accounts.
- Uncovers opportunities: Connect with major decision-makers by answering questions and offering recommendations in online groups.
- Helps sales reps build long-term relationships: 31% of B2B professionals report that social selling tools allowed them to establish deeper relationships with clients.
- Easily manage your online reputation: Create and maintain your online digital presence and create a consistent message about your offerings and expertise
Does Social Selling work?
Yes! If you can implement a social selling strategy that focuses on building online relationships with prospects and customers by engaging with them in a meaningful way. Social selling techniques include engaging with prospect’s content, sharing helpful information to common problems, and providing valuable industry insights.
For example, look at the Performance Benefits of Social Selling by comparing Social Selling Users with All Others. These numbers are from a whitepaper published by Hootsuite sourced by Aberdeen Group and prove how effective social selling is as a sales approach and strategy:
- Total team attainment of sales quota 64% versus 49%
- Customer renewal rate 55% versus 48%
- Sales forecast accuracy of 54% versus 42%
- Per cent of sales reps achieving quota 46% versus 38%
4 Popular Social Selling Channels
Each social network has its own personality and preferred mode of communication. Your potential clients are likely to flock to the platforms that are best suited to their tastes and interests. It’s crucial to identify your prospective audience’s preferred platforms and the most effective language to use on each one. Otherwise, you may invest a lot of time and effort into launching a social media initiative on a particular platform, only to discover that your target customer isn’t active on this platform. When it comes to B2B sales, LinkedIn is king. For B2C sales, you’ll probably have more success on Instagram and Facebook.
Also read: How To Use Clubhouse To Grow Your Business
Before we delve into the 10 essential social selling strategies, let’s take a few moments to familiarise ourselves with the best social selling platforms:
LinkedIn is a professional social media platform dedicated to recruitment and content-sharing used primarily for business networking. People use this platform when searching for jobs, suppliers, and other business solutions. Overall, LinkedIn users like to publish and share articles, write and post status updates, and connect with business professionals who add value to their networks.
What is the Social Selling Index?
The LinkedIn Social Selling Index is a tool used via LinkedIn Sales Navigator as a “measure of a salesperson’s social selling skills and execution.” The tool consists of four pillars:
- “Establish your professional brand”
- “Find the right people”
- “Engage with insights”
- “Build relationships”
LinkedIn reports that social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than peers with lower SSI. If you’re curious at all about what is your social selling index, simply log into your sales navigator account. Click on your profile picture, scroll down, and you’ll see the ‘Social Selling Index.’ From there, you’ll have a full breakdown of your analytics with actionable tips to make the most of your LinkedIn profile as a social selling tool.
Facebook is one of the most effective platforms on which to conduct B2C (business-to-customer) marketing, and that’s why 97% of B2C marketers use Facebook. Most of the people who use Facebook connect with friends and family and share exciting stories, articles, and photos. They are socially and emotionally motivated, and they’re there to seek entertainment. Love Facebook? Check out our review of the Occulus Quest 2 in our latest article: Is VR Training in the Workplace The Future Of Upskilling Sales Teams?
Twitter is a content-sharing platform designed for instant news and tips in posts composed of 280 or fewer characters. As well as following friends and contacts, Twitter users like to follow thought leaders, celebrities, and media brands. They’re seeking entertainment and information. The tweet may be a message within itself, or it may contain a link to an article or blog post. When linking to external content, it’s a good idea to use bit.ly, as you’ll be able to track the engagement with your post.
Instagram is a visual-led social media platform on which users post personal photos of various things, including informal images of food, scenery, and selfies. The audience is young and enjoys engaging with a personal or brand story through primarily visual language. Moreover, it’s common to see half a dozen hashtags included in a photo’s caption, as hashtags are used to tell part of the story and help other users search for and locate images according to their interests.
10 Social Media Selling Strategies: How to sell using social media
Over the years, we’ve noticed some best practices for social selling in our work with business owners and sales professionals throughout Asia-Pacific. 64% of sales teams who use social selling reach sales quotas (and 15% more contract renewals) versus 49% who do not adopt it. That’s why by incorporating these 10 essential social media strategies, you too can experience the benefits. Get your social selling started by continuing to read below:
How to prospect on social media
If you’re not evolving your selling, prospects will be contacting your competitors instead. Is your sales organisation adapting its selling process to keep up with the evolution of sales? Challenge yourself by trying something in this article and share your results with us on social media. For now, let’s start by answering this question, Where are your target customers congregating on social media?
1. Find your audience online
There are so many social media platforms out there—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram—it’s enough to make your head spin. Rather than spreading yourself thin by trying to be everywhere at once, it would be more effective to take a targeted approach. First, find out which platforms are frequented by most of your customers and establish a strong presence on these particular platforms.
When I’m speaking with business owners and sales professionals, many of them struggle with figuring out which platforms to be on. You’re probably wondering, “what’s the most effective social media platform to use in selling?” Here’s a quick solution. Send a quick email to your top-10 customers asking what’s the best social media platform to connect with them. Then send them a connection invitation on their preferred platform and start spending time where they (and prospective customers) are congregating.
Tip: Discover 3 ways to reach ideal target customers
Success in social selling requires discovering the top three ways of consistently reaching many of your ideal target customers.
Why three ways? Well, to avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket with just one way and to avoid spreading yourself too thin in time and money in more than three ways. Therefore, sticking to your top three ways of consistently reaching a large number of your ideal target customer is manageable and will keep you focused.
Why the word “consistently”? Because anything other than being consistent doesn’t work. If you think that you can hit the jackpot with the occasional promoted post, you need to think again. Spending hundreds of dollars on that type of strategy will almost guarantee you a negative return on your investment. And there’s nothing less effective than joining a discussion group, posting or answering one question and not following up on that discussion or building the relationship with other members. Your audience needs to see you as consistent and credible before trusting your message.
Why the words “large number”? Because you’ll need to reach lots of prospects in order to achieve your income goals and make the best use of your time. Consider using LinkedIn to find the groups your customers belong and if there are more than 10,000 members, become a top contributor (start by commenting in discussions) of those groups as a way of reaching customers in large numbers. Group participants also get 4x the number of profile views.
2. Have valuable conversations with prospects
Many people use social media solely as a broadcasting tool because they’ve forgotten the fundamentals of sales. Social media is such a noisy place, so stop trying to compete to see who can shout the loudest! Instead, try listening to your ideal customer base.
Start by following nine of your top prospects or clients. Pay attention to what they’re sharing regarding questions, challenges, and successes. Always ensure you interact with their posts or tweets so they know you’re an active participant in the conversation.
For example, perhaps one of your clients just got promoted or moved to another company. Another client has launched a new product, or maybe two of your clients have ventured into new markets.
This information is beneficial and can add tremendous value to how you engage with them in the future. Therefore sending a reply or direct message to a client to congratulate them on their latest news is a way of letting them know that you’re listening to them. Subsequently, by showing them that you’re paying attention to their progress, you’re strengthening your relationship and credibility with them, which may lead to future business.
Also read: How To Talk To Prospects & Have Effective Sales Conversations
3. Generate qualified sales leads
While many companies are struggling to generate qualified leads, more and more are starting to understand how to achieve this through social media selling. One way is to encourage buyers to share their contact information and start a relationship with sales reps. Similarly, capturing e-mail addresses from prospects helps to fill your sales funnel. Therefore you can do this through an opt-in page by offering and delivering value in exchange for their contact details. Another great tool to sell on social media is LinkedIn. Using LinkedIn, you can do a detailed search to find your prospects and message them by connecting with them or paying for ‘InMail’ messages. However, always remember to consider these key areas when qualifying a prospect:
- • Do they have a need for your product?
• What’s their level of decision making authority?
- Have they got the budget to afford the solution?
Also read: 9 Tips For Developing An Effective Follow-Up Sales Cadence
4. Get past gatekeepers
It’s never been easier to get past the gatekeepers than it is now in the era of social media. Sometimes, a quick Google or social media search can tell you which member of a company is the decision-maker. This allows you to bypass the receptionists and assistants—the gatekeepers. How do you achieve that? Before you approach a company or spend any time developing the relationship, the first step is always to qualify the prospect.
Position yourself as an expert
To position yourself as the ideal solution provider, you’ve got to stand apart from the competition by proving your expertise. The way to achieve this is to establish yourself as an authority, thought leader, and expert in your industry. Read on to discover more:
5. Demonstrate your expertise
In order to position yourself as the ideal solution provider, you’ve got to stand apart from the competition by proving your expertise. The way to achieve this is to establish yourself as an authority, as a thought leader, and as an expert in your industry. Engage your audience by posting updates that are interesting and relevant. Share with them all the knowledge you have. If you show great value and you share great content, people will see that you’re well informed. When they’re ready to make a buying decision, they’ll want to talk to you.
6. Differentiate from competitors
Once you’ve demonstrated your expertise, you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Now, this means setting yourself apart from the competition by communicating your own unique message. What makes you different? What are the essential elements that make you different? Customers have so many choices available to them, but this actually complicates the buying process and lengthens the sales cycle. Therefore, by differentiating from your competitors, you’re making it easier for customers to come to a decision, which shortens the buying cycle.
7. Assess prospects’ needs
If you’re asking all the right questions on social media, you’ll get great answers. Even better, your followers will see that you’re asking those questions. When they come up against an obstacle, they’ll reach out to you for a solution because you’ve shown them that you’re interested in learning about your customer base, and you’re in touch with their needs. Best of all, you’re already in conversation with them.
8. Share solutions through online presentations.
When it comes to selling using social media, you could sell through pre-recorded videos, sales pages, live webinars or virtual face-to-face meetings using video conferencing software. With the vast selection of tools available, you need to find what works for your product or service and your customers.
No matter what tool you use, plan your benefits in advance and know how to overcome common objections.
9. Ask for the sale
Ultimately, this guide is not about acquiring more friends and followers; it’s about how to use social media to sell because asking for the sale is its focal point. It’s time to convert your conversations with prospects to closed deals. When you’re trying to close, you have to ask outright for sale. It’s not enough to tell people that you’re doing this or that. You have to say, ‘Join me’ or ‘Click here to be a part of it.’ You have to send out e-mails and post plenty of updates on social media. Ask for the sale using a combination of social media platforms and e-mail. As much as I believe in the power of social selling, I believe in taking these conversations away from social media. Connect with the prospect on social media, then engage on a deeper level with them elsewhere.
Tip: Gain incremental commitments online, then take the conversation offline.
What you’re looking to do is to gain a small commitment – something that they can agree to do now that’s relatively easy. The idea is, by getting your customers to commit to small things and to follow through on those small things, you’re one step closer to closing those big deals.
10. Get spin-off business
Once you’ve closed the sale and delivered the product, many people think it’s all over. Therefore, they move to the next project, and they never look back. This is a fatal error. The end of the project is the beginning of the relationship. At this point, it’s time to adjust your goal and to focus on sustainable selling.
Use introductions and recommendations to get more business. Demonstrate how you can support your customers in solving their problems. Then establish a partnering relationship.
Tom doesn’t just teach Social Selling – he wrote the book on it.
This guide on how to sell on social media was created using excerpts from my book Social Selling – 10 Essential Strategies to Prospect, Position and Present on Social Media.
Tom wrote this book because, as a fellow sales professional and business owner, it’s exactly the book he needed when starting out with social media about 10 years ago. He wrote this book for you!
Also read: 15 Best Social Selling Books | Prepare To Join The Evolution of Sales
5 Common Social Selling Myths Debunked
Here are the top-5 social selling myths that might be keeping you from closing the deals and earning the commissions that top business owners and sales professionals are doing using social selling. Let’s bust them!
Prefer to watch rather than read? Discover 5 social media selling myths debunked below:
1. You don’t need an online presence to sell.
Truth – 89% of purchases (75% for B2B) start with an online search!
2. A website is good enough.
Truth – How much traffic is coming to your website? 82% of the world’s population is reached by social networking sites!
3. Social media is for marketing not sales.
Truth – 64% of sales teams who use social selling reach sales quotas (and 15% more contract renewals) versus 49% who do not adopt it!
4. Discussion groups are a waste of time.
Truth – 40% of customers are using LinkedIn Groups to vet their decisions. You should be part of those discussions!
5. Cold calling is the most effective.
Truth – The average sales rep needs to make 8 cold calls to get through to the right contact. 63% of B2B decision-makers engage with vendors (likely your competition) on social media!
FAQs about Social Selling
If you have any questions, drop me a message on LinkedIn. I’ll be happy to answer them for you.
Tired of watching competitors overtake you online?
A common misconception about social selling is that you need to have a huge following to be successful. Instead, you only need to effectively engage with your ideal prospects online – which is why social selling mastery focuses on using social media to find your target customer and ask qualifying questions to refine your prospect list.
Join now and gain the skills needed to demonstrate your expertise, generate leads and accelerate your sales cycle.