There has always been a gap between sales and marketing, but more and more companies realize that closing this gap is mandatory for business success.
Marketing and sales are truly one word and aligning them strategically can completely transform a business, as both teams can seamlessly work together toward a common goal. They can focus on what matters, and together generate qualified leads and conversions that will help their company grow.
To get the most out of your sales and marketing, you need to become familiar with the sales and marketing funnel, because that’s the path that your customers travel through when they become aware of your brand.
Once you get the hang of it, you can dive into the synchronization of digital marketing and social selling as the most important activities for leveraging the sales and marketing funnel.
Understanding the Sales & Marketing Funnel
The sales and marketing funnel represents stages through which your prospects and leads go through to become your customers. It is made up of the following six stages:
Digital Marketing and Its Main Goals
Digital marketing is the process of promoting products or services using various digital media, both online and offline.
Therefore, digital marketing includes Internet marketing (SEM, SEO, PPC, and website, email marketing, online banner ads, social media, and mobile markets), and offline digital channels (radio, TV, digital billboards, and SMS).
Digital marketers have the goal of reaching their target audience via various digital channels and promoting their products and services to convert their leads into customers effectively.
They showcase the real value of everything they offer through the content they create and deliver, showing at the same time all the benefits that people will experience if they engage in their brand.
With proper strategies in place, and the right digital channels (those that their target customers are using), digital marketers guide their leads through the sales and marketing funnel, ultimately converting them, and increasing sales and ROI.
Those two increases are their ultimate goals, as they help them grow and attract an even larger number of customers.
Social Selling and Its Main Goals
Social selling is the process of using social media to interact with your prospects, leads, and customers directly. You communicate with them regularly to build trust and form strong relationships that will result in more conversions, customer loyalty, and growth.
If you haven’t yet, you should set up a social selling strategy right now, because it can help you reach a wider audience on a global scale. It will help you generate many more qualified leads and conversions, and forge strong connections with your prospects and customers, ultimately increasing your sales and ROI.
Social sellers ultimately want the same as digital marketers, but they’re focused only on social media. They are, after all, one of the types of digital marketers.
They want to connect with as many qualified leads as possible on social media and build meaningful relationships with them. They actively communicate with social followers daily, building trust with them, and guiding them toward the end of the sales and marketing funnel.
Social sellers do so by reaching their followers on an emotional level, responding to their comments and messages, always communicating honestly, and showing that they genuinely care about their followers.
Showing that they care about meeting consumer needs more than about making sales is what makes people trust them, and significantly increases engagement.
The Differences Between the Digital Marketing and Social Selling Approach
Digital marketing and social selling are quite similar, as both are focused on promoting a business and attracting qualified leads.
The main difference between them is that social selling is aimed at social media promotion only, while digital marketing extends to all the other activities for promoting a business both on online and offline channels, including social selling.
Therefore, social selling is a part of digital marketing.
Where Social Selling and Digital Marketing Converge
Social sellers and digital marketers meet at the process of content creation and the way they promote their content. Content is what compels people to engage in a brand and make a purchase. It’s the key to achieving the goals of all digital marketing and social selling activities.
Raising brand awareness, as well as generating and converting leads, is all about building trust. Sharing high-quality, unique, useful, compelling content that is relevant to your target audience’s pain points is precisely what helps you build that trust.
It helps you humanize your brand, and give it a personality that your target audience will want to get to know better. It’s what helps you stand out in the vast sea of competition, and inspire brand loyalty and advocacy.
To achieve all this, you need to synchronize your social selling and digital marketing teams. When they join forces, they can identify and address customer pain points, generate qualified leads, convert them, and nurture and retain customers.
The most crucial assets to leverage to achieve the goals of both teams include:
How Digital Marketing and Social Selling Teams Utilize Content
Every successful digital marketing and social selling team should consider the three primary stages of the buyer’s journey to create quality content. Here’s what each stage requires and how both teams utilize content.
1. Awareness Stage
At this stage, your potential customers are becoming aware of a particular problem or need. They start searching for solutions to their pain points, which is where you come in.
Your digital marketing team can attract those potential customers with interesting and useful blog posts, educational content, infographics, eBooks, research studies, and anything else that will provide them with relevant answers.
Your social selling team can further guide them through the sales and marketing funnel with social media posts, social discussions, and CTAs.
2. Consideration Stage
At this stage, your potential customers know exactly what they need, but they want to weigh all their available options before committing to a particular brand. They start comparing brands and prices so that they can make the right choice.
This is where your case studies, comparison blog posts, explainer videos, and expert guides come into play, which is what your digital marketers are responsible for. It’s your social selling team’s job to regularly share them on social media, along with webinars, interesting facts, and useful FAQ pages.
3. Decision Stage
Here, your prospects make their final purchase decision, so providing them with brand-specific content that highlights your value proposition is critical. You can leverage product demos, product comparisons, product review videos, testimonials, case studies, etc.
Your digital marketers should create those assets with the target audience’s needs in mind, while your social sellers should share them on social media, along with compelling CTAs to effectively convert your leads.
Sales Enablement Tools & Software
Sales enablement tools help nurture leads, increase their engagement, and boost sales and revenue. They’re also perfect for aligning your marketing and sales teams.
The best sales enablement tools you should utilize are:
As you can see, synchronizing the digital marketers and social sellers on your team leads to better results. It raises brand awareness, increases traffic, attracts the right kind of audience, increases interest and engagement, converts qualified leads into customers, and boosts sales and ROI.
Once your digital marketing and social selling teams join forces, you’re on the right path to growing your business.
Social buying is not only a hot topic. It’s also the future of commerce.
More than 74% of shoppers rely on social media when making purchasing decisions.
This is in big part due to the democratic nature of social networks and unbiased reviews from users and social influencers. Equally important is the all-in-one concept behind popular sites like Facebook and Instagram, which eliminates all customer effort from an average buyer’s journey.
There’s one keyword that perfectly describes a modern-day consumer:
Being enabled to buy whatever they want and whenever they want it with only a few clicks, without having to switch tabs and leave their favorite social network, is convenient. Receiving pre-purchase and post-purchase guidance from social media reps and chatbots - also convenient.
Having a platform for sharing their opinions on brands? You guessed it. Convenient.
So much so, in fact, that 96% of social media users won’t trouble themselves with hitting the “follow” button before discussing a brand online. Twitter users like to act all nonchalant too, with roughly 30% of all tweets that mention a brand being shared without the brand’s handle (@).
But how can you know what’s being said about you then?
The answer is social listening.
Here’s how it differs from social monitoring, why it should be an integral part of your social media analysis, which tools you need to use, what constitutes a social listening strategy, as well as how to make it work in terms of marketing, social selling, and general business growth.
What Is Social Listening?
Social listening is not social monitoring.
The two overlapping concepts are easier explained in comparison to one another, concerning the fact that social listening includes social monitoring. However, they are not the same.
Social monitoring is about collecting data on social media.
Social listening is about using that data in a strategic way.
While monitoring allows you to keep an eye on the online mood, or social media sentiment, listening allows you to take part in the dialogue and control the narrative. Or to use the information you have in any other way that helps you improve your brand image and drive more sales.
While monitoring provides you with raw insight, listening takes a step forward into actionable data analysis. By helping you understand how people feel about your brand, niche, and industry (or how people feel in general), listening allows you to keep your selling efforts on track.
There’s plenty you can do with social listening.
Using this insight, finding patterns and trends in consumer behavior is easier than ever before. The same goes for revealing new sales opportunities, whether it comes to improving brand visibility, super-laser targeting, smart lead acquisition, building trust, or quick conversions.
Social Listening Vs Analytics
Without combining social monitoring and social listening and fitting them together into a broader picture, you won’t be able to execute a successful social media campaign. You’ll miss more targets than you’ll hit. And at that rate, you’ll have no way of competing with other brands.
Social selling is extremely effective, but also very hard.
That said, having a data-driven strategy is vital.
There is a number of social analytics you should start measuring:
A good social listening strategy can help you cover all five.
The end goal?
To gain a better view of the current market conditions, define and understand your target audience, segments, and ideal buyer personas (their needs, pain points, preferred solutions, buying patterns, and social media behavior), and collect feedback that can be used for improvement.
What Kind of Businesses Used It in the Past?
Social listening was originally popularized by communications’ departments as a crisis management technique. Marketing departments quickly noticed the immense potential of social media mentions and started sharing their insight with customer service/support representatives.
Today, the practice is used by businesses big and small.
And not only them.
Skype recently reintroduced its “Away” status feature and made the news public on Twitter. Using social listening, the company was able to test how their audience is feeling about the new roll-out before spending a dime on it. A similar example comes from the cloud giant, Slack.
A beloved ice cream company Halo Top is using social listening to engage with customers on Twitter as well. But the creamery is not doing it for testing. It simply chitchats with its fans like in this witty exchange, thus boosting its brand visibility and encouraging shares and sales.
3. Charities, Fundraisers, and Similar Organizations
Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), a non-profit organization committed to elevating the issue of early childhood education and child survival, famously used social listening to learn what people are thinking about Trump becoming the president and inform their campaigns.
A recent report by GovLoop and Hootsuite analyzed the way government bodies are using social media, and why. The results showcased that 22% of respondents rely on social listening for informing their strategies, improving citizen engagement, and providing real-time support.
Long-Term Vs Short-Term Strategy Development
Every modern-day brand can benefit from social listening.
But whether or not you’ll actually invest in social listening tools depends on the social media strategy you have in mind. What is it that you want to achieve, in relation to your social selling efforts? Do you need to collect recent data, analyze trends, and create short-term opportunities?
Or do you need a long-term solution for long-term returns?
If your strategy relies on cumulative data and continual learning about your target audience, then you’ll need to plan for the long-term. Social listening is here a better option. For one-off strategy boosts and short-term solutions, stick to metrics provided by social monitoring.
3 Essential Tools
Helpful social media tools allow you to encompass your entire social media presence from one place. They track mentions using keywords, phrases, and events and send you alerts and data in real time. Your social listening toolkit should equip you for the following analytics:
Here’s a list of 3 tools we’ve tried and loved:
The foundation of every social listening suite is a tool that provides social monitoring, analytics, and competitor espionage. Mention does that exceptionally well. In addition, it offers demographics and data on the accounts that mention you. Analysis-wise, that’s pretty deep.
Similar tools: Hootsuite and Sprout Social
2. If This Then That
If This Then That (IFTTT) extends your social listening efforts beyond social media. It allows you to track blogs for unapproved mentions of your brand, thus increasing your opportunities for inbound linking and SEO. With IFTTT, the ultimate goal is increased brand visibility.
Similar tools: Boardreader and HowSociable
Keyhole is great for tracking niche-specific keywords and hashtags. Say somebody wants to know this year’s hottest summer destination. As a traveling agency, you’ll use Keyhole to monitor all these keywords and provide links to your offers to potential leads and customers.
Similar tools: Hashtracking and HashTagsForLikes
4 Steps to Success
Are you ready to start listening?
The following 4-step strategy is only a framework. You’ll need to expand on it based on your specific sales goals, but it’s a start nevertheless. Consider it a cheat sheet for success.
1. Identify Your Goals
We’ve said that there’s a lot you can do with social listening, but that doesn’t mean that you should do it all. As with every other strategy, you need to set SMART goals, which mostly means specific. Do you need to track your brand, spy on your competitors, or find influencers?
Maybe you need to improve your customer service?
Figure it out.
2. Build Your Toolkit
Using our recommendations from before or based on your own research, start building your listening toolkit. Cover as many social sites as possible, including forums and blogs, and add analytical features that retrieve insight on as many different social media metrics as possible.
3. Determine Keywords
Depending on your end goal, your social listening tool should be scanning social networks for specific keywords and phrases:
4. Track, Analyse, Repeat
Social listening is worthless without a powerful analysis.
Use it to feel the online mood.
We’ve already discussed key metrics that you need to add to your social media strategy. You’ll need to know the audience’s general sentiment no matter the goal, but chances are you’ll also need to measure social influence, volume fluctuations, brand reach, and share of voice.
What Data Do You Need (and How to Use It)
Options are virtually limitless with social listening.
And so are the possibilities for improvement.
The following encompasses all types of data that can drive your social selling forward. A thorough brand would collect them all, though that would take some time and money. If you’re considering social listening as a growth technique, better focus on one or two at the time:
1. Brand Intelligence
2. Competitive Intelligence
3. Industry Intelligence
How to Use Collected Data
There’s no point to social listening if you don’t act on what you’ve heard.
Clever use cases for data collected with social listening tools are as numerous as they are innovative - everywhere you look, brands are using this technique to improve social interactions with customers. The ultimate goal is growth through sales. These are the best ways to achieve that:
In addition to staying responsive to messages 24/7, you need to be able to address your customers’ questions, concerns, and frustrations when they are posted live without your brand’s handle. 60% of them expect you to respond to their queries within an hour, so keep listening.
And if positive, customer feedback should be reshared.
74% of consumers have greater trust in a company if they read positive reviews.
Social listening may be the most effective way of preventing this. The faster you notice a bad review, the faster you can turn it into a positive customer experience. Approach the frustrated customer with a sincere apology, a better solution to their pain point, and a promise that you’ll improve.
What Are the Business Benefits?
There’s so much you can learn from just listening.
Intelligence is, therefore, the first benefit of social listening. In an oversaturated market (and that’s the situation for most marketers in today’s economy), information is the most valuable asset and the most powerful differentiating point. Without data, you don’t stand a chance.
The more you know about modern-day consumer behavior and your niche audience, the better. You’ll find it easier to predict their expectations, meet their needs, and keep them satisfied. And if they, by any chance, get disappointed, you’ll find it easier to address that too.
Earlier, we’ve talked about convenience.
90% of social media users are using social media as a way to communicate with their favorite brands, simply because it is convenient. By engaging in social listening, you’re eliminating every last bit of customer effort. Customers no longer have to address you directly to be heard.
All this amounts to improved brand visibility and trust. Relying on these social signals to guide their purchasing decisions, social media users are one click away from turning into leads, and from there, into customers. A timely response or reshare can be a powerful conversion trick.
“Social selling is hard.”
This statement is definitely true in some ways, but is also wrong in others. Yes, social selling is hard. At first. It requires a dedication to stick around, find out what works for you, and re-craft strategies that fit within those parameters.
In the end, social selling success is just as likely to come down to your determination as it is any particular strategy or tactic that you employ. The more determined you are and the longer you stay consistent with your efforts, the more opportunities you have to learn.
Consistency is perhaps the most important attribute that any prospective social seller can possess. Social selling is a daily commitment. You need to follow up with prospects, constantly engage with new people, and ensure that you are spreading your content far and wide across the social platforms where you want to be present. Without consistency, you’ll not get results. It’s that simple.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the most important social selling principles that prospective social sellers should apply to their efforts every single day. By internalizing these guidelines and ensuring that you take them into account as you build out your strategy, you’ll set yourself up for success in the long run.
Principle #1: A Genuine Approach Wins
B2B users know when they are being marketed to. It’s true. Our exposure to advertisements and marketing has made us skeptical of the messages we receive every day. That isn’t to say that traditional marketing isn’t effective anymore. It is. It’s just that those techniques are not as likely to produce results when applied to social media engagements.
Similarly, our customers know when they are being marketed to. They don’t like to have their inbox spammed with cold pitches and nonsensical marketing messages that don’t fully apply to them. Even when they do need the product, they’d rather conduct research on their own or engage in a more deliberate conversation with someone they trust.
For these reasons, social selling relies on genuine relationships and conversations with prospects. You aren’t just selling to them. You are getting to know your connections - and hopefully they’ll turn into clients at some point. But while that’s maybe the ultimate goal, it’s not what should determine how you operate.You’re getting to know what they need. When they’ll need it. How they live and think. What they care about. Anything and everything relevant. We want to build genuine relationships before we ever make a pitch to a prospective client.
Principle #2: Valuable Content is the Cornerstone of Success
If the goal is building genuine relationships, the quickest way to do that is to actually be valuable to the people that you are speaking with. While you can always provide valuable insights during your discussions, social selling is built on the principle of delivering continuous value through content.
When we mean delivering value through content, we are talking about sharing content across your entire social selling operation. When a point comes up in conversation and you have a relevant piece of branded content published on your blog, share it with the client. When you share content on your timeline, make sure it is valuable. The same for when you are taking part in discussions on another post or in a group discussion on your chosen social platform — relevancy and genuine value trumps all.
Any good social seller must have a consistent pipeline of high-value content that they can use to attract new customers, build relationships, and boost their ability to establish that initial level of trust with their prospects. Valuable content is the cornerstone of an effective social selling campaign.
Principle #3: Generosity Establishes Connections
Social selling is about more than following a simple checklist of tasks that you need to do on a daily basis (although having a checklist is helpful, too). It’s more broadly about your ability to establish relationships with people. Yes, they may need your services. But they can might also be in a position to help you expand your presence, make referrals, or grow your audience. They can be influencers. Competitors. Other social sellers. Casting a wide net puts you in position for more opportunities.
To establish that wide net, you need to focus on a strategy of generosity. Just like you can’t withdraw from your bank account without making deposits, be willing to give advice for free. Explain to them why your product might be a good fit for their situation. . But don’t hesitate to recommend other products or services that might be a better fit for their needs. By focusing on being generous and transparently helpful, you build connections that ensure that when a prospect or someone they know needs a product like the one you offer, you will be the person they think of first.
Principle #4: Lower Volume, Higher Quality
This speaks to every aspect of social selling. No one likes to be bombarded with messages, likes, or comments. When you are too eager to engage, you create an aura of desperation that your prospects will be able to detect. It won’t help your standing.
Focus on lower volume and higher quality in everything that you do within your social selling strategy. This can refer to:
Anything and everything you do within social selling should be done with an eye toward quality. Being able to consistently deliver quality interactions to prospects is a big part of the trust building process. By delivering that reliable quality in the actions you take, you slowly but surely build trust for yourself, your product, and your company.
Principle #5: Questions Build Relationships
At the heart of every great conversation is a great question, idea, or insight. Learning more about our prospects is at the heart of every social selling campaign. We can’t learn what conversations they may respond to, the pains that bother them, or whether or not they are a good fit for our product until we learn more about them.
Asking questions out of the gate can get you responses. Asking the right questions is what keeps the conversation going and gets your prospect engaged. There are all sorts of questions that you can ask a prospect to kick things off.
You can ask about their company. You could ask them about their work history. Or their time in college. Or about any specific services or specializations that they have. Every company is different. Every prospect is different. Focus on learning as much as you can about each prospect without peppering them with too many questions. Let questions flow naturally from your conversation to build trust and foster engagement.
Principle #6: Use Smart Automation
Automation plays an important role in any type of today’s marketing and social selling is no different. Some companies automate their entire social media presence. Every tweet, Facebook post, and shared article is pre-planned and scheduled. While it would be nice if social sellers could enjoy that level of automation as well, we have to be more thoughtful in the way that we employ social selling automation.
Because social selling leans so heavily on genuine one-on-one conversations, it is impossible to automate the entire process. You’ll always have to jump in and manually engage with your prospects. However, being able to identify what tasks can be automated and finding smart ways to integrate them into your existing strategies can give you a leg up on the competition.
Some of the different social selling tasks that you can safelyautomate include:
However, you want all subsequent interactions to seem genuine. So even if you automate the posting of a piece of content that you wrote to your LinkedIn account, you have to make sure to be willing to jump in and engage with prospects that comment, like, or share your content.
Principle #7: Groups Broaden Your Platform
Participation in Facebook or LinkedIn groups may be the most direct way to grow your platform. Instead of vying for attention from anyone and everyone, your participation in groups allows you to cater your interactions and messages to a small set of individuals. If you find a group that is full of highly relevant prospectsfor your product, spending additional time within that community is likely to be a more worthwhile use of your time than targeting random people you come across on social networks.
Finding micro-communities makes it easier to develop awareness and a reputation within the markets that matter for your offerings. While not all Facebook and LinkedIn groups are well-moderated enough to really make an impact on your business, those that are can be of tremendous value.They can allow you to meet a wide range of qualified prospects, establish your position within the market, and make yourself a trusted source of information.
Find groups on the platform of your choice that are a home to your target audience and are well-moderated. Start to participate in those groups. Learn the rules. Know how to interact within the group. Don’t be self-promotional at all in the beginning. You want to establish a reliable presence and reputation and the worst thing that you can do is come across as overly self-promotional as you’re building out the relationship..
Principle #8: Make the Ask When It Makes Sense
The biggest mistake a social seller can make is making the pitch for their product or service too early in the process. It can be hard to stop yourself from making that mistake, especially when a prospect seems to be a unique fit for what you have to offer.
It’s so critical to your ongoing success in social selling that you are able to develop patience within conversations. Almost no one is ready to buy your product on Day 1. Many aren’t on Day 5. Most aren’t on Day 15. But a good number of your prospects could be ready on Day 30. Be patient. Learn how to spot the right time to make the pitch during your social selling process. But only by making mistakes and going through the process, again and again, will you learn to when that time is.
Social selling takes time. That’s the point that we want to drive home here. You can’t expect it to pay off right away. Expect 3-6 months of ongoing engagement before you see tangible results. Of course, you will see some results before then, but it simply takes time for prospects to get to know you and trust that you are a reliable source of information. They have to be educated and nurtured over time. It’s a very deliberate approach to establishing relationships. For those that have experience in more traditional forms of marketing and advertising, it can take some time to get used to it.
Principles to Guide You
The principles that we have outlined in this article can help you to guide your social selling strategies. These principles apply to social selling on any platform. By following them, you embrace social selling in its truest form and position yourself to establish beneficial, long-lasting relationships with prospects across your market.
Have some other ideas for important social selling principles? Share them in the comments below!
So, you know what social selling is and have decided that you want to use it to grow your business. Smart decision. But simply knowing what social selling is and recognizing its benefits isn’t enough to truly begin using this strategy to your advantage.
Social selling can be complicated. It requires a long-term approach and genuine communication skills that you use to develop real-world relationships with prospects. Luckily those skills can be learned. By dedicating yourself to the discipline and improving your skills over time, anyone can become an adept social seller.
But before you can really begin to gain experience in social selling, you’ll have to start from the ground up. To start social selling, you need to create a strategy that helps to keep you laser-focused,defines your social selling goals, and positions you or your team to grow genuine relationships with prospects that will work to your benefit for months and years ahead.
To put together that winning social selling strategy, you need to understand what is necessary for an effective strategy, while being able to break your strategy down into individual tasks for scheduling purposes. As you set out to get started with social selling, use the following tips to help you set up an effective strategy that positions you for success.
Tip #1) There are Two-Parts to Social Selling
Social selling is really multiple strategies wrapped up into one. Effective social selling is a combination of outbound prospecting and inbound marketing. For outbound prospecting, you identify who your prospects are and then make initial contact with them. Then, you use inbound marketing techniques to continue the relationship building process and build trust.
Prospecting involves gathering intelligence and learning as much as possible about each prospect. Being great at prospecting sets the stage for success. Without being able to identify candidates that will be a good fit for your product or services, you hamstring your whole process. If you couldlearn only one thing, it should be effective prospecting. All success flows from there.
Inbound marketing is a broader strategy, but certainly plays an integral role in social selling. An inbound marketing system is meant to attract prospects to you or your company sharing useful resources and educating them. Through this education and engaging in regular interactions with your target audience, you will ultimately make prospects come to you, instead of contacting them cold and offering your services.
Tip #2) Define Your Social Selling GoalsEffective social selling requires continuous improvement over time. To become a better social seller you have to track your experiences and learn from your mistakes. Constantly work to optimize your social selling process and identify areas for improvement.
For the purposes of improvement, it is critical that your executives, team leaders, and managers have clearly defined team goals. Know what success looks like to your company. Every strategy must be tied to key performance indicators (KPIs) that you use to gauge success and determine what is working and what isn’t. Once you have your KPIs chosen, you can then attach those KPIs to very specific goals.
For instance, key performance indicators for a social selling strategy might include things like:
Deciding what is most important to your overall social selling strategy is important. Choose a metric that closely aligns with your organizational goals. Directly connect your business goal and that metric.
For instance, you might set a goal that each salesperson on your team should book at least 8 phone meetings per week. While closing deals is valuable, it is often too far down the social selling process to provide any real insights into the small optimizations you can make over time. It’s better to choose a metric that highlights your ability to identify and nurture prospects so that you can implement optimization to your processes and strategies over time.
Tip #3) Invest in Education
Education is important. Sure, you can try to go into social selling completely green, hoping to eventually make progress as you go. You might even find some success. But with a little bit of planning and education, you can position yourself to start building meaningful relationships and closing deals right out of the gate.
This is especially important for teams with multiple salespeople. Sending an entire team of rookies out there into the wild isn’t going to do you much good. The education they receive from experience is invaluable, but you can shorten the path to success by investing in basic training for your teams.
Not only will it make them more effective, but they will go into their initial conversations, knowing what they’re doing. Allowing your team to collaborate to find the best way to approach potential clients, nurture, and grow relationships creates an atmosphere where everyone benefits from the entire team’s experience.
Your initial investments in education for yourself or your team will pay dividends throughout the life of your business. While there are many social selling courses available online, it can bemost effective to bring in a consultant who works hands-on with your team, gets them up to speed and positions them for social selling success.
Tip #4) Determine Which Platform is Right for You
You can’t launch an effective strategy without identifying a platform to focus on. For B2B social sellers, that likely means that you are going to focus on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. There are upsides and downsides to each. Generally, we recommend that our clients start on LinkedIn. There’s just too much potential in the B2B arena for this platform not to be your top choice.Over time, we always recommend that social sellers grow to focus on more than one platform, but we have found that LinkedIn is a good starting point.
With that said, every situation is different and sometimes our clients prefer to stick with the platform that they are most comfortable with. Either way, once you decide on a platform you begin to plan your posts, strategies, and build out your social media calendar. Because every platform has different requirements for engagement, nothing can really be planned until you have your platform chosen.
Tip #5) Create Instructions for Prospecting
Prospecting is the ever-present elephant in the room when it comes to social selling. Great social sellers are constantly making connections with new prospects to feed their pipeline. Depending on your chosen platform, you may have very different ways of finding your ideal clients.
For instance, if you worked primarily on Facebook, you would probably use Facebook Groups or third-party tools to find profiles of people that meet your ideal client avatar. However, on LinkedIn you would search by title, ZIP code, size of company, tenure or other criteria to narrow down your potential matches.
Whatever your platform of choice, to successfully prospect, you need a clearly defined buyer persona and a process. This ensures that the process is repeatable and can be optimized over time for better results and faster prospecting. Break down the process step-by-step so you have a resource that you can return to or use to train others.
Tip #6) Create a Framework for Engagement
With a platform chosen, you build out your engagement strategy. Your engagement framework (or flow) outlines the steps you will take when making contact with a new prospect. Now, there is always some room for interpretation here. Just because you have a framework doesn’t mean that you can’t deviate from it. Sometimes conversations will naturally lead in another direction, and that’s alright.
Sample process engaging with prospects on LinkedIn:
Giving yourself a simple roadmap like this can make interacting with prospects much easier. While conversations will veer their own way and you will often have to deviate from your framework, you can always re-enter the framework at the next logical step and continue to move the conversation toward working together.
With a well-designed process for finding and engaging you can move on to the nuts and bolts of your strategy — creating and planning the content that you will share both on your news feed and with prospects individually.
Tip #7) Create a Social Media Calendar
Social selling is built around the concept of continually delivering value to prospects until they have trust in you. To do this, you’ll need to have a well-defined plan and a list of resources ready to share both on your own feeds and with your prospects.
First, create a list of content resources that you believe your prospects would find useful. Focus on sharing pieces that you have written or have been published on your brand website. You do, after all, want to position yourself as the expert. You should also include some third-party sources as you don’t want to come off as overly self-promotional. Focus on making sure that every resource on your list is laser-targeted to a specific buyer persona and covers a topic they will find useful.
Once you have a fleshed out list of genuinely valuable resources to share, start building out your social media calendar. Depending on your chosen platform, you may have different approaches.
Typically, you should aim to share at least one resource per day on your feed. That doesn’t mean that it has to be an article. It could be a quote. A genuine thought you had. Anything that would position you as an expert in your field and a solver of problems for your ideal customers and clients.
Tip #8) Automate What You Can
While social selling will always require at least some acts to be handled manually, there are some things that can be safely automated. Doing so will allow you to free up your time and focus on your broader strategies, instead of performing repeatable, mundane tasks.
Prospecting is a good example of something that can be moderated on some platforms. There are many software solutions that can help you to sift through your LinkedIn connections, connect with new people, and find people that match specific criteria on the platform.
Additionally, posting status updates on your accounts can be automated as well. While we do recommend that our clients post by-hand, scheduling content sharing and interesting tidbits to share with your audience can free up your time to focus on the most important aspect of social selling: engaging in conversations.
Tip #9) Test, Iterate, Optimize
We can only make recommendations about what we have found to work when it comes to creating a social selling strategy. But, every audience is different. You’ll have to see what works for yourself. As you begin to roll out your social selling strategies, constantly measure, iterate, and test new ways of engaging with your target audience throughout the process. In doing so, you’ll find specific strategies that connect with your audience and put you in a position to build new relationships.
Experience Means ImprovementExperience will help you improve your social selling strategies and put you in a position for success moving forward. Using the tips in this article, you’ll be able to create a solid foundation for building your social selling strategies, while putting yourself in A position to find out what works well with your particular audience.
What do you find helps you with social selling? Leave a comment below!