Do you find that you are dedicating a lot of time to mundane, manual tasks when it comes to social selling? Do you wish that you had some tools that could help you to spend more time focusing on the big-picture and less time wading into data entry?
Social selling is a long-term strategy that requires some commitment before results show and you’ll be able to realize ROI. On the plus side, once you have the system running, it’s the gift that keeps on giving! There are many daily social selling tasks that on their own don’t produce massive results. But in combination, they help you grow your reputation, establish relationships with your ideal customers, and establish your brand as an authority within your industry.
To get to that point, there are many different tasks that you have to complete on a regular basis to grow your following and establish a high level of awareness with your target audience. While it is possible to conduct all of these tasks by hand, this can be a time-consuming prospect. Instead, you should leverage tools that let you automate some of these tasks and free you up to engage in higher level actions that push your growth forward.
In this article, we’ll outline some of the best social selling automation tools that are available today. These tools will not only help you to jump-start your social selling strategies and make you successful in less time, but they will help you to identify more opportunities in general. It’s impossible to monitor everything happening on social media as it relates to your industry. Using tools can help you to keep a closer eye on the discussions that are happening among your customers and influencers within your industry.
If you are looking to bolster your social selling strategies and create more opportunities, automating certain aspects of your social selling strategies is a must. With that said, let’s dive right in and explore some of these amazing helpers!
#1 Prospecting: LinkedIn Sales Navigator
One of the most important tasks of any social seller to identify new prospects and engage with them on their favorite platforms. For B2B companies, that usually means (or at least involves) LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world's largest professional social network with nearly 600 million users. That’s a lot of opportunity. But it can be tough to sift through. While LinkedIn’s standard search features are solid, LinkedIn Sales Navigator puts them on steroids and adds more options, ensuring that you are able to identify the perfect targets for your business.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator helps you to target the right people and companies and better understand their desires and needs. Then, using the InMail credits that they provide (among other features), the subscription helps you engage with those prospects. Sales Navigator provides lead recommendations to help you quickly discover the decisionmakers at your target accounts. It integrates directly with your CRM and transfers all prospect data, so you have it on hand in a single click.
For B2B social sellers, there are few tools that are more powerful than Sales Navigator. It’s a staple of any serious social selling strategy. By arming yourself (or your team) with a subscription to LinkedIn’s premium plan, you put your business in a position to reach more prospects, engage with them more effectively, and ultimately close more deals.
#2 LinkedIn Automation: Orca
Orca is amazing and makes for the perfect complementary investment to LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The tool is built for social selling automation, handling some of the most important social selling tasks so you can focus on revenue-boosting actions. An investment in Orca is an investment into your own time.
Orca is designed to help you scale social outreach on LinkedIn in a genuine way while scaling your operations. Their system is designed to help you create conversations with your prospects prior to engaging with them for business. You can automate and sequence a number of different tasks through the platform:
This is extremely powerful. These are the most important LinkedIn tasks for social selling and being able to free up your time lets you focus on quality engagement with your prospects and driving personal conversations. Orca’s simple drag-and-drop interface makes it a great choice for teams, who will require minimal training to use the platform. If you want to make LinkedIn a key component of your social selling strategy, Orca is one of the best tools you can pick.
#3 Content Sharing: rFactr
Providing your following with a consistent stream of high-value content is a critical component of social selling. However, constantly working to identify great content that will appeal to your ideal customers can be difficult. Content curation isn’t as easy as it looks at face value. rFactr’s product, SocialPort, combines a number of useful features that you can use to drive your social selling strategies on the most popular platforms.
First, their CRM features. This software offers deep integration with the biggest CRM platforms. Through their system, you can add leads to your CRM, attribute revenue, track social sales activities, and sync your tasks with the people that you connect with. Then, the software helps you to identify content that will be a good fit for your audience through their customer recommendations. Last, you can schedule syndication of that content on all of your social media platforms.
rFactr’s more advanced plan, SocialPort Enterprise, also includes features like prospect tracking, competitor tracking, and training modules for your teams. SocialPort is an excellent tool for social sellers and a complement to sales teams that utilize social selling strategies.
#4 Social Post Scheduling: Buffer
In social selling it’s extremely important that you are always sharing new information with your audience. You want a constant stream of insights, useful content, interesting thoughts, and general engagement coming from your account. However, nobody will be able to log into their accounts each day, identify things that you would like to share (that will actually be effective with your audience), and keep up with the fast-moving world of social media. Some automation is required to help keep your accounts active.
Buffer is the simplest solution out there today. Their software allows you to schedule your content and track the effectiveness of everything that you share across all of the popular social networks. Additionally, their system makes content recommendations based on RSS feeds and other content that you have shared, giving you a built-in resource for content curation.
Buffer lets you schedule your post for an exact date and time, then Buffer will automatically publish and track the post for you. All of your posting can be handled in one place, with manualupdates sprinkled in. Just because you use automation tools, doesn’t mean that your content stream should look robotic!
#5 Relationship Intelligence: Nudge.ai
Nudge.ai is a platform that helps social sellers build relationships with their target audience. Sales has always been about building trust, and Nudge uses that premise as the foundation for its product. The software offers some basic categories, each incredibly important to social selling:
Nudge.ai simplifies the social selling process by ensuring that you have all of your conversations and contacts across multiple platforms, accessible from one place. They pull all of your contact information from your email, phone, meetings, sales, and CRM into one database so that you can keep a bird’s eye view of your social selling operations. Then, their system reminds you to follow-up with your prospects with smart reminders.
#6 Social CRM: Nimble
Nimble is one part data repository and one part CRM for social sellers. Their system enables you to access up-to-date social media profile information, business data, and verified contact data that helps you to get into contact with the prospects that you discover.
When you install the Nimble CRM, any time that you visit a social media profile, their system populates a sidebar with all of their relevant information including their other social media accounts, email, details that are publicly available about that person, and other pertinent information that you can use to engage with them.
Nimble also offers advanced social selling features like pipeline management, sales forecasting, analytics, and intelligent email tracking. Their system integrates directly with Office 365 and G Suite, ensuring that all of your communications with prospects are tracked and taken into account when sending follow-ups or designing strategies.
#7 Social Listening: Meltwater
A big component of social selling is being able to identify trends as they develop and jump into conversations as they begin to unfold. This helps you get in front of your audience and position yourself at the forefront of your industry’s most popular conversations and topics. If you wait too long to jump in, the conversation can pass you by and it can become difficult to gain traction in these conversations, resulting in missed opportunities.
Meltwater aims to solve this problem. Their platform leverages local content partnerships and uses AI to sift through billions of documents in real-time. They cut through the noise and provide you with actionable recommendations for identifying trends, jumping into conversations early in their time trending and it ensures that you position yourself appropriately within the conversation.
Meltwater can also help you monitor your brand across all social and digital channels from one convenient dashboard. Keep an eye on what your ideal audience is talking about across the world. News scanning isn’t just limited to social media either — Meltwater monitors conversations on niche forums and discussion boards around the web so that you never miss an opportunity to engage.
#8 Twitter Analytics: FollowerWonk
Twitter is a great platform for distributing content and getting in front of your ideal audience, but its minimalist profile can make it difficult to learn more about your audience. Obviously not ideal, since you want toengage with them. Followerwonk helps you dig deeper into your following and better understand your audience with their in-depth Twitter analytics. This tool can help you to find, analyze, and optimize your social selling strategies for growth.
Followerwonk stands out from the competition with their actionable visualizations that compare your social following to that of other influencers within your niche. Then, the software generates detailed analytics and reports that can easily be shared within your company with the click of a button.
If you want to leverage Twitter in your social selling strategy but are having a difficult time understanding your following and measuring your impact, Followerwonk is the perfect choice of tool.
#9 Email Identification: Hunter
Expanding the number of channels that you engage with prospects through is critical in social selling. You want to take that short Twitter conversation and turn it into a warm relationship that spans social networks and email and blossoms into a valuable relationship asset over time.
However, sometimes, it’s just about impossible to identify a prospect’s email on your own. Sure, you could ask them for it. Or use some Google magic to find where it is listed online, but that is time-consuming and tedious.
Instead, use Hunter! This tool scrapes the web and identifies email addresses of your prospects. Using a Google Chrome extension, you can quickly identify the email of prospects and extend your relationship to a new channel. If Hunter can’t find their email, it analyzes other email addresses on the domain to give you a good shot at guessing what their email might be based on the format used with other email addresses.
#10 Custom Codeless Automation: Zapier
Zapier is a platform that is designed to extend the functionality of your apps by connecting them to other apps. By doing this, it lets you create and automate workflows between different softwares, which is extremely valuable for social sellers. You can create workflows with nearly any popular app and tie actions to actions in another app.
For instance — let’s say you want to store every incoming email to your sales team in a Google Sheet. Zapier could be used to automatically detect incoming emails and enter data on a specific Google Sheet for you, eliminating manual data entry for that task.
That’s just one example. Zapier offers connections between more than 1,000 apps at this time, making it easy for you to identify and automate workflows that take up hours of your time each and every week.
Social Selling Automation Makes You More Effective
Smart social selling automation frees up your time to focus on more important tasks, puts you in a position to identify new opportunities, and helps you to build more relationships with prospects more quickly than you would by hand. The tools mentioned in this article are some of the best tools available today for the different tasks that we have outlined in the article and some combination of these tools would be an excellent investment for any social seller.
What tools do you use to automate social selling? Tell us about some of your favorites in the comments section!
Just heard that we are recognized as a top Inbound Marketing Company on DesignRush. They are going to do a press release on ‘Top 25 DesignRush’s Inbound Marketing Companies’ in March and will feature SocialSellinator in the article. This is great validation of our market strategy as well as of our client services that help drive leads and optimize social media marketing for small and midsize businesses.
Social selling doesn’t come easy. It’s a grind. It’s a long-term strategy that requires a daily commitment before the results start to become clear and most companies don’t have the patience to see things through until they get to that point. To be clear: if you want to see social selling success, you have to expect to work consistently on engagement for 3-4 months. Not that you won’t see any change before then. But social selling is all about building relationships and that simply doesn’t happen overnight. If you want random clicks to your website, go and buy Google ads. But if you want prospects calling you, build these relationships first. So, be patient and give it time.
That’s what makes developing a reliable social selling strategy so difficult for many companies — the commitment required to fulfill your goals means a shift in mindset for most companies and sales professionals. It’s the proverbial slow-burn of sales strategies. In many ways the practice goes against a lot of the boiler-room type atmospheres that became so popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, leading to a generation of sales professionals that need to shift the way they look at the selling process to find success in social selling.
Social selling relies on developing genuine relationships to generate sales. 81% of consumers would prefer to engage with sellers that have a strong brand on social media. Well, genuine relationships don’t happen overnight. You plant a seed. Then you water that seed for weeks or months, and eventually, it grows into a mature plant that blooms. If you try to pick the flowers before they bloom, you’ll have nothing to show for it.
To get to that point, you’ll need to make a lot of small advancements within each individual relationship. Some will develop faster than others. But all relationships will require that you engage with prospects over time to develop a bond. Those small advancements on a daily basis eventually add up into a network that helps you to produce a reliable stream of sales for your company and can continually be used to your advantage for years to come.
That is where the disconnect lies for many companies that are on the fence about social selling. It’s less of a sales tactic and more of an investment in your future. For sales professionals, the relationships that they develop through social selling will last them throughout their careers, regardless of where they work. For the companies that employ the strategy, social selling helps to build awareness and creates a reliable referral network that could produce sales for years to come.
In this article, we’ll cover all of the small steps that social sellers should take every day to grow their network, develop genuine relationships with prospects, and foster a reliable lead generation network. In total, these tasks should take you 30 minutes - 1 hour to complete, depending on whether you complete every task or the number of actions you take each day. Some of these tasks can be pushed to every other day or several times per week and don’t always need to be daily activities.
#1) Find Prospects
Richardson’s yearly sales study has continually found that prospecting is one of the biggest challenges that most sales teams face. Keeping your relationship pipeline loaded with new prospects is critical. In social selling, the relationships that you develop will all be in different stages at any given time.
A few might be ready to buy at any given time. Others are getting closer but need further nurturing before they are at that point. Others will be in the very beginning stages of the relationship and still developing trust for you as a person and a brand. Occasionally, relationships will wallow and drop off as prospects lose interest or you learn that perhaps you weren’t such a good fit for each other.
You should be continually working to reach out to people and begin that process to keep your pipeline filled. Even if you just identify one new person per day, that gives you a consistent stream of new people to talk to. Finding prospects can be done through search or simply by reaching out to them.
#2) Send Personalized Connection Requests
When you find prospects that seem to be a good fit, the next step is to send them a personalized connection request. Remember — these people receive blank or automated connection requests all the time. 82% of buyers say they take meetings with people that reach out to them. Your goal is to stand out. That is why personalization is so important. They have to know that you were checking out their profile and found a real reason to connect. It’s the simplest and most immediate way to stand out from the competition.
#3) Start New Conversations
Once you connect with people, make sure you stay on top of starting conversations with them. It’s fine to start slow and take your time. But you need to make sure that you are at least starting a dialogue with everyone that you connect with, even if the conversation doesn’t seem to go anywhere at first. At the beginning of a relationship, your goal is simply to get on their radar. For many, simply asking them a question about their business will help you to stand out from the crowd and get them interested.
Social selling is all about turning cold leads into warm leads through relationship building and warm conversations. Studies have shown that cold leads close at a rate of about 1.7%, far below leads that have a bit of familiarity with your business. Putting in the time to take new leads from cold or warm is an art, but one that will pay off over time.
#4) Build Connections by Engaging in Public Conversations
Sending personalized connection requests isn’t the only way to get on people's radars. You should take time every day to engage in a public conversation on your feed, even if its a single comment that you leave about a given topic. This will help to get you in front of people that might be interested in your product or service and build awareness among your targeted audience. Try to target conversations that are started by influencers to expand your reach and get your brand in front of new people.
#5) Share High-Quality, Relevant Content
The trust that you develop with your prospects comes not only from the conversations that you have with them, but also from the expertise that you display in your public social media activities. Sharing high-quality, relevant content that speaks to their biggest questions and concerns helps to position you as a reliable source of information on the subjects that you are supposed to know about. Sharing high-quality content can be automated in your own social media posts, but you should also seek out opportunities to drop content links into conversations on the social networks that you participate in.
#6) Share Posts by Prospects
People notice when you help them extend the reach of their own social media posts. It’s a great way to signal to a person that you agree with what they are saying and find what they have shared valuable. Keep an eye out for opportunities to share posts by your prospects to help improve awareness and lay some bricks toward building of your relationship. Simple engagements can go a long way in the eyes of your prospects.
#7) Monitor Important Prospects
Some prospects are simply more worthwhile than others. If you know the 20/80 rule — which contends that 20% of your customers will drive 80% of your revenue — you know that every prospect is not made equally. Prospects that have a higher revenue ceiling warrant more attention from you. For those prospects, you should set aside a moment or two every day to monitor their social media presence and identify opportunities for engagement with them. You could join a conversation they are having, share content that is relevant to something they shared, or just “like” something that they have posted.
If you fail to monitor your most important prospects, you’ll miss important opportunities to engage with them. Those are opportunities that may never come around again. Limit your list of “important” prospects, but use it as a guide for how you spend your time on social media.
#8) Nurture Warm Prospects
While you don’t have to connect or send something to each prospect every single day, it is important to monitor the prospects that you are currently nurturing and identify opportunities to share new materials or respond to conversations.
Nurturing is a crucial aspect of social selling, particularly when we are talking about hot prospects, who will need consistent attention from you to comfortably make their way through your sales pipeline. Hot prospects in social selling can be defined as anyone that you see as a potential fit for your product or service that is showing consistent interest in what you have to say.
To nurture them, you can send them high-quality content that is relevant to the conversations that you have had with them or simply open a new dialogue about a tangentially related subject. Take the time to personalize each message. The goal is to have genuine conversations during the nurturing process, not to walk the prospect through some sales script. Nurturing should continue long after the sale as well, but only 29% of brands nurture existing customers beyond their initial purchase.
According to a study from HubSpot, improving nurturing practices is one of the biggest priorities for companies.
#9) Schedule Future Updates
While a lot of your social selling activity should be conducted by hand, there are some areas of your social presence that you can automate safely, and future posts are one of those areas. Ensuring that you are sharing content consistently is an important part of social selling. To aid you in that effort, you should automate the sharing of high-value content, insightful posts, and event-specific types of information.
Of course, you shouldn’t automate every post that you make. Doing some off-the-cuff posts allows you to react and respond to current events and keep your account looking fresh and engaged. People can tell when a social media account is completely automated, and that’s an impression that we want to avoid.
#10) Participate in Private Groups
Some of the most interesting interactions that you will ever have as a social seller will take place outside of your public feed. By joining private groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and even other platforms like Slack, you can cut down on a lot of the noise and network with people that are actively looking to connect, just like you. Identifying a handful of private groups to pay attention to and monitoring those groups for discussion opportunities can be a simple way to get started.
#11) Build Your Own Group
As a social seller, your goal is to position yourself as an expert within your field. While you can do that by sharing publicly on social networks, creating your own private group allows you to have more control over the interactions that you have with prospects. Building your own Facebook group positions you as the leader in the subject that you have chosen. Your members will come to you for advice and guidance while contributing to conversations within the group.
One important thing to understand is that building your own Facebook group takes a lot of time and dedication. Appropriately moderating a group will take more than 30 minutes of your day alone, once your group becomes active. It also takes a long time to convince people to sign up and participate. Make sure that you have the time to dedicate to that task.
#12) Find Opportunities to Engage with Influencers
Influencers will have a reach on their platform that far exceeds your own. Keeping an eye on influencers that have an audience that closely aligns with your own and monitoring their activity for opportunities to engage can be a great way to get in front of your target audience. Of course, ideally, you’d like to have an influencer mention you or engage with you directly.
49% of people on social media have purchased something based on influencer recommendations. While that’s a nice goal, it’s important to remember that they are busy people with a lot of people vying for their attention. Any conversion that can you take part in on their posts is better than not engaging at all.
#13) Work on a New Blog Post
Having a consistent stream of content that you’ve published that you can share with your prospects is extremely helpful in social selling. 53% of marketers say that blogging is their top content priority. But putting together a valuable blog post that provides true insight on a subject within your industry requires hours to put together.
Spreading out the time that you dedicate on writing to several different days can be an effective way to make the task seem less cumbersome and improve the likelihood that you finish. On slow social media days, dedicating 20-30 minutes to writing can be a great way to ensure that you make solid progress on that next piece of content to share with your following. Remember — 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Content is critical for those initial nurturing stages.
#14) Check Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags are the most effective way to sift through public discussions on any social network. By clicking on, or searching for a hashtag in the search bar, you can identify new prospects, take part in relevant discussions, and put your expertise on display for a highly targeted audience. Overlooking the importance of identifying these micro-communities and using them to your advantage is a huge mistake that many make when they first start with social selling. Those that are discussing and asking questions about the subject that you are an expert in, giving you the perfect platform for adding value and putting your experience on display.
#15) Take a Quick Look at Metrics
I try to discourage our clients from keeping an eagle eye on their metrics every single day. Keep perspective and keep the big picture in mind. Even when the numbers are pointing down for a short time, you can still be on the right track overall. It is definitely undesirable to get stuck following them every day. It can be discouraging to take a look at your numbers and not see them moving in the direction that you’d like swiftly enough. Maybe you’re experimenting with the style of content you want to use. Maybe it’s just a week full of holidays. Social media statistics are not easy to predict and can be influenced by many factors. Still, it is important to take a quick look and see that you are making progress. Don’t get too caught up in monitoring them, but make sure that you do take a look every so often.
Break Down Social Selling Tasks for Success
At its core, social selling is about completing a series of tasks like the ones laid out in this article. In the end, they all come together to help you get your product in front of your ideal customers and build fruitful relationships that help you to sell the product.
Too often, we get caught up in the overall sales that our social selling efforts have generated. Early on in the process, you’ll be hard-pressed to recognize the impact that the strategy has had on your business. By connecting your social selling goals to specific tasks, you ensure that you consistently take action on a daily basis. Using the tasks outlined in this article can help you to define those tasks and create a daily schedule for your social selling strategies.
Are there are other social selling tasks you do on a daily basis? Comment below and tell us what tasks are paying off for your business.
Social selling may be the future of digital sales, but in our time working with clients that practice social selling, we have found that a concerning percentage of them don’t have the proper systems in place to measure and gauge their success. In fact, only 15% of marketers know how to prove their social selling ROI in a quantitative way.
At the most basic level, social selling success can and should be measured in its ability to generate leads for your business. And yes — leads generated is an important metric for measuring your social selling success. But the strategy runs much deeper than simply generating leads and starting sales conversations. Social selling is about building relationships — both with your ideal prospects and with other figures in your industry — in an attempt to leverage those relationships to generate sales and grow awareness of your offering.
Appropriate tracking, measuring, and optimization is crucial for generating a positive ROI from your social selling strategies. Most businesses know the importance of data in modern sales teams. But social selling is a much broader strategy than most sales teams are used to.
Success isn’t as straightforward as it is with other strategies. Leads and sales generated from social channels might be a good metric for getting an overall understanding of your efforts, but that is a lagging indicator, not a current one. Social sellers often have dozens of warm conversations in the pipeline and peripherally-aware prospects that haven’t started discussions in earnest. Those relationships have value — even if they haven’t come to fruition yet. But how do you measure the impact of those soon-to-be prospects?
Often, measuring social selling effectiveness requires that you are able to connect several different systems together including your CRM, marketing automation platforms, social analytics, content engagement metrics, and by-hand tracking of important conversations and relationships. Without all of those together, you’ll never be able to gain a top-down view of your true social selling effectiveness or identify areas for improvement.
Now, we’ll dive into some of the specific metrics that your teams should be tracking. These metrics will provide you with a good baseline for measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of individual social sellers within your organization and your team as a whole.
Measurement #1: LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index
You really can’t discuss social selling metrics without talking about LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI). The SSI is a metric that measures your overall social presence on LinkedIn and provides insight into where you stand within your industry and within your network. The best thing: you can see your score for free without having to pay for a LinkedIn premium account. The SSI attempts to measure how effective you are at establishing your brand on the platform and engaging with prospects. The score is updated daily with graphs showing you how your SSI score has changed over time.
While the exact formula that the company uses to create your SSI score isn’t publicly available, the company does provide insight into the different elements that they use to determine your score. These include:
While LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index is not the end-all-be-all of social selling metrics, it does provide an excellent starting point for measuring your effectiveness on the platform. With LinkedIn being the primary social network for B2B sellers, it makes sense that you would want to keep a close eye on your ability to facilitate opportunities on there.
The SSI is one of the most popular social selling metrics due to LinkedIn’s popularity as a social selling platform and because of the metric’s ability to encourage engagement and help social sellers to establish goals. LinkedIn states that social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than their peers with a lower SSI. So, checking your SSI is definitely worthwhile every couple of weeks. No need to obsess over the score and check it daily.
Measurement #2: Social Network Growth
Social selling often focuses on quality over quantity. Success is less about growing your network as large as you possibly can and more about creating warm conversations that lead to valuable relationships with prospects. Social selling is all about influencing the right prospects, and not so much about influencing as many people as possible.
Still, social network growth is an important indicator of social selling success. The more people that enter your network, the more chances of success that you have. More social activity means that your sales reps have a greater reach, which increases the chances of their content being seen by a larger number of people. Content distribution is important for generating awareness for both your personal brand as a social seller and for the success of your company.
Despite the fact that social selling has a narrower focus than other sales strategies, it is still a numbers game. The more people that social sellers are reaching out to and developing relationships with, the higher the chances are that a sale will be made.
The average LinkedIn user has an average of 930 connections. On its face, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. But it does provide a number to use as a guideline as you measure your own social reach on the platform.
So in summation — the size of your social network does matter. It does play a big role in the overall effectiveness of your social selling strategy. But it shouldn’t be seen as a defining factor. It’s really much more about a balance of quality and quantity. Sales reps that focus solely on growing their network without keeping the quality of that network high and in-line with your targeted personas will be disappointed with their results.
Measurement #3: Warm Conversations (Leads) Generated
Social selling is a strategy that emphasizes building of relationships. Your ability to engage in valuable and meaningful conversations with those that fall within your targeted customer personas is a great indicator of your overall success with the strategy.
If we envision social selling as a traditional sales pipeline (it is almost always much more complicated than that but let’s do so for the sake of brevity), the number of warm conversations that you are currently engaged in could be closely compared to prospects that are currently in the sales pipeline. Some will pan out. Others won’t for a variety of reasons. But each is an opportunity for you to get your product in front of someone that you believe is a potentially qualified prospect.
Relationships are an essential element for generating an ROI from social selling. Warm, genuine conversations are the backbone for nurturing those relationships. Generating those conversations pays off not only throughout the sales process but through the entire customer lifecycle. 31% of B2B professionals believe that social selling cultivates stronger customer relationships.
Measurement #4: Content Engagement Rate
Valuable content is a cornerstone of any effective social selling campaign. A social sellers’ ability to connect with prospects and deliver valuable content that helps them to better understand their product, industry, and brand plays a key role in their ability to win their trust and confidence. Sharing relevant information with their audience helps social sellers to activate their social networks and establish themselves as thought leaders in their space.
Delivering high-value content isn’t some trick for winning the trust of prospects — it’s what customers prefer. 81% of consumers would prefer to engage with sellers that have a strong brand on social media. The built-in social proof that comes with sharing highly valuable content that generates public conversations helps social sellers to grow awareness and build a strong reputation within their industry.
Monitoring the engagement rates of the content that you share, both on social networks and on your website itself gives you insight into whether you are providing the right information to your audience. On social networks the engagement metrics that you should be keeping an eye on include likes, comments, and shares. On your website, keep a close eye on the bounce rate and time on page of the content that you share.
Content with high engagement rates is typically content that is valued by your audience. Further, content engagement metrics speak to how engaged your following is on the whole. Less engaged followings may mean that you need to take a harder look at the content that you are sharing with them.
Measurement #5: Prospect Referrals
Often undervalued, one of the key benefits of social selling is its ability to generate referrals for your business. As you establish a reputation as a thought leader in your industry and engage in warm conversations with others in your industry (even those that may not be interested in your product when the conversation takes place), you position yourself to be a safe recommendation. Everyone loves to share something of value with their network. You want to position yourself as that “thing” of value for them to share.
According to a report from Demand Generation, a warm referral increases the odds of closing the sale by up to 4 times. Additionally, 70% of B2B companies report that referrals convert better and close faster than any other type of lead. It’s the preference of most B2B buyers, of which 84% start their buying process off with a referral, even if the company they are referred to is not the company they eventually end up going with.
Relationships are at the core of everything that we do with social selling. The conversations that you engage in aren’t just meant to connect you with your ideal prospects — but also with people that are in a position to recommend your business to your ideal prospects as well.
Measurement #6: Activity Metrics for Leads
There are a number of metrics that can safely fall under the “lead activity” umbrella. For many prospects, the process of getting to know your company and becoming aware of the value that you can offer them is ongoing, with flurries of activity that can be a strong indicator of their interest in your solution.
There are many steps that a prospect may take along the way to ultimately converting into a sale. Ensuring that you are measuring the different activities that a prospect can take is important for optimizing your approach and pushing prospects toward steps that correlate with sales.
Some of the different lead activity metrics that you should be monitoring include:
Keep a close eye on the different actions that your leads take on their way to becoming customers. There will be differences in the process for every business and identifying metrics that can be measured throughout gives you more data to work with in order to optimize your strategies.
Data Delivers Growth
While getting your hands dirty and actually engaging in social selling will allow you to identify improvements that can be made over time, no social seller or team should be flying by the seat of their pants. Collecting, measuring, and analyzing data helps social sellers to identify what is working, what is not, and create hypotheses for how they can improve their approach. While tracking many different metrics can be complex and time-consuming, having that data on hand can help to reveal weaknesses in your strategy. Even if you don’t use it right away, you may at a later date!
What metrics are you tracking to measure your social selling strategies? Share in the comments!
So — you’ve probably been reading up on social selling, digital selling or whatever you want to call it. You know that it can completely reshape your business for the better. You’ve seen the case studies and reports from social sellers that show how much of an impact the strategy has managed to have on their business and want the same for yourself.
But how do you actually get started with social selling? If you don’t have any experience in social selling, it can seem daunting. There are so many considerations that come with running an effective social selling strategy that learning everything from the ground up can seem impossible. But — the truth is that while, yes, social selling is a skill that takes a long-term commitment to sharpen, most people have no problem improving rapidly and learning how to become an adept social seller in a few short months when they are willing to commit themselves to improvement.
A lot of success in social selling is about shifting your mindset and applying some common sense to your interactions with prospects. You have to move away from the traditional pitching mindset that has been ingrained in many salespeople and instead focus on building genuine relationships based on content and providing helpful information.
Success in social selling often comes down to your initial planning and your ability to stick to those plans. As they say — how you start is how you finish. In this article, we’ll detail some of the initial steps, tips, and best practices that you should follow in your early days of social selling to set yourself up for success down the line.
Tip #1: Establish a Social Brand that Reflects Your Business
How you present yourself on social media matters. A lot. Even when you aren’t social selling, ensuring that you are putting a positive message and professional personal and company brand out there into the world is critical for shaping how prospects and customers feel about your company.
Start with an audit of your current social media accounts. This audit should include not only your own personal and professional accounts, but any company or salesperson’s social media accounts that will be joining you in social selling as well. You have to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward. Think about the image you want your prospects and clients to see on every social media channel.
In this audit, you should evaluate and look for a few key things across your social media accounts:
The trick is to find that balance of professional and personally relatable content. You don’t want to post anything that could reflect poorly on your personal and company brand in any way. But you also don’t want to seem like a robot either. Prospects like to know that there are real people behind the curtain.
Tip #2: Focus on Listening on Social Media
Great social sellers know how to listen. They know how to listen and react in conversations with prospects and they know how to listen to social media in general. Often, the biggest hurdle for new social sellers to get over is knowing how to make those initial connections with prospects on social media that will one day lead to new opportunities.
The best advice that we can give in this area comes down to one simple word: listen. Keep an eye on conversations about and within your industry. When the opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to jump into ongoing conversations. Later, you can follow up and add the people that you chat with. Keep in mind that 90% of all B2B buying decisions are influenced by peer recommendations.
A few tips to keep mind:
Social listening becomes much easier when you have followed or added enough relevant people to your account. Having the ability to listen and judge situations before diving straight into talking about your company or product will play a key role in your social selling success.
Tip #3: Think Outside the Typical Social Network Box
Every social seller should be active on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram. Those are the biggest social networks in the world, so there’s a good chance that a large number of prospects for your business are on those networks and would love to hear from you. That said, networks are different and not equally appropriate for each business. For example, B2B brands are likely to be better suited to LinkedIn and/or Twitter, while consumer brands are more likely to find buyers on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
However, thebig networks also have the most competition. There are social sellers all over the world that are monitoring those social networks every second of the day. That isn’t to say that the competition is too stiff to drive results through Facebook or LinkedIn — just that it can be a bit more crowded.
We recommend that social sellers think outside of the box and look at establishing a presence on other, smaller social networks as well. There are a few in particular that make excellent choices for social sellers to establish a presence on:
Too often, YouTube is viewed as simply a video sharing and watching platform and not as the gigantic social network that it actually is. In fact, YouTube is actually both the 2nd largest social network and 2nd largest search engine in the world.
YouTube has more than 1.9 billion users that login every month. While most of those users are simply logging in to watch videos, start paying more attention to the comments section. There, you’ll find discussions happening about subjects that are related to your business or product that would be perfect for you to jump into. You can establish connections with the video uploader themselves, or with the people that are taking part in those discussions. But to leverage YouTube effectively, you’ll have to regularly create and share content here. So, ask yourself if you’ll be able to keep up and provide a number of videos every month. If not, that’s a problem.
Quora is a question and answer platform that is perfect for social selling. The platform allows users to ask questions concerning any topic. Then, experts on the topic can respond to the question with an answer. Other users “upvote” the best answers, which then appear at the top of the list. If you are able to have your answer voted as the best answer to a question, that can mean a lot of exposure from other users and search engine traffic for related questions.
Take a look at this example. Here are some of the questions that pop up when you search for “social selling” on Quora:
For example companies like Social Sellinator, Quora is a great resource and these discussions are very helpful for us to participate in. Try running some searches that are related to your industry and product and see what kind of discussions are taking place. Share some thoughts and insights and you’ll be surprised about the feedback and effect it has for your SEO,
All around the web, there are online communities where people are discussing your industry and products. These communities could be on forums, in product communities, Facebook groups, LinkedIn Groups, or under hashtags on the larger social networks. Some of those communities will be invite-only, others will allow you to join for free. Identifying active communities where your targets are hanging out can give you a huge leg up on your competition. Over time, if you are able to establish your brand within these communities by delivering value, you’ll develop real relationships that will result in sales. Just keep in mind that communities are primarily not marketing vehicles. They are meant for discussions between people that have shared interests. If you start blasting out commercial messages here, don’t be surprised to get kicked out quickly.
Tip #4: Connect Valuable Content to Pain Points
Effective social selling relies on your ability to be a valuable source of information for prospects and interested parties. Most social selling engagements that result in a sale start with a conversation. Maybe a prospect has a question that they need answered, a pain point that they need a solution for, or just a desire to learn more about something related to your industry or product.
The best social sellers are not only able to jump into conversations and engage with prospects that have questions but are able to supplement their discussion with content that dives deeper into the subject at hand.
For this reason, it’s a good idea for social sellers to have the content that they will share pre-planned, based on questions and pain points that are common among their audience and customers. Being able to dive into a conversation to discuss a pain point helps you to put your expertise on display — but providing them with a detailed resource on that topic (that was written by you or published by your company, ideally) makes you and your brand valuable resources to prospects.
Tip #5: Create a Routine and Calendar for Consistency
There are few things more important to your success in social selling than consistency. Even if in the beginning you are doing everything wrong, consistency helps you to gain the experience that you need to recognize your mistakes and improve your social selling skills.
There are a few steps that you can take to ensure that you have a social selling routine that helps you to maintain consistency:
Success in social selling is almost impossible without consistency. It takes time to build your value in the eyes of your prospects and establish yourself as a valuable resource among your following. Without daily interaction, you’ll have a hard time staying top-of-mind among your most valuable prospects that you do make connections with.
Tip #6: Become a Reliable Networker and Talent Connector
In social selling, you are only as effective as your value to the people that you develop relationships with. While you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field, you should also look for other ways to become a valuable resource for the people and brands that you engage with.
Don’t just focus only on connecting with your ideal prospects, although they should receive a bulk of your attention. Also, focus on developing relationships with people that could potentially send business your way in the future. A great way to develop new relationships is to share the fruits of your networking with new connections that you make. Simple acts such as connecting them with a service or product that they need (even when it is not your own) can go a long way toward helping you to develop trust and be seen by them as a valuable resource.
Tip #7: Share Your Successes Proudly
We all know that social proof is big. Social sellers have the ability to get their biggest successes in front of prospects as the successes take place. When you’ve been able to help someone reach their goals or achieve success using your solutions, don’t be afraid to share it. Letting prospects see when you have been able to help others gives your offering credibility.
Getting Started is the Hard Part
Your first weeks of social selling are the hardest ones. You’ll have little to no experience. Your social presence will be the smallest that it will ever ben. You won’t have the connections or relationships to help you expand your reach on platforms. But over time and with consistency, your presence will steadily grow, putting you in a position to develop more relationships and close more deals.
The biggest mistake we see people make is that they stall because they’re too worried about being perfect. Consider that the half-life of a Tweet is around 15 minutes. Similar times apply to postings on other social networks. Get yourself out there and start posting. Sure, don’t write something blatantly stupid, disrespectful or insulting.
In short, don’t write anything that you’d be ashamed if your mother saw it. But does every post have to win a Pulitzer? Absolutely not. Will every single post be 100% on point and brilliant? Likely not. But consistently regular and good content with the occasional highlights is still better than long times of nothing and a great post once a year. Imperfect action over imperfect inaction.
Having trouble getting started with social selling? Share your troubles in our comments below and we’ll see if we can give you some advice to get you over the hump!