In the past, when people wanted to know more about a product or service, they asked family and friends for suggestions. They would even visit or call several businesses to talk to representatives.
Today, much of customers’ pre-purchase activities are happening online. People post on social media to ask their connections for recommendations or to reach out to a company’s team. Some people, for example, use Facebook’s Recommendations feature to receive suggestions from friends.
They check out reviews and ratings, too. In Bright Local’s 2019 survey, 82 percent of respondents said they read the online reviews of local businesses. Among them, 97 percent also read companies’ responses to reviews.
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Social Media: An Essential Sales Tool
Social media functions and features — ratings, reviews, shares, tags, hashtags, and comments — are helping customers find service providers, evaluate products, and stay updated on their favorite brands. Apple, for example, used its Facebook page cover to promote its latest product.
Businesses with an active social media presence are able to generate more leads and sell to customers in multiple platforms. Moreover, reviews and ratings are supplying the social proof they need to build trust and improve their customer pipeline.
What Is Social Selling?
Social selling is the process of leveraging social media to find, understand, and establish trust with your ideal customers so you can hit your business goals. The power of social selling lies in its being “social,” which indicates a pleasant exchange, not a one-sided form of communication. Businesses that spam their followers and potential leads or marketers who are only focused on making a sale are bound to turn off prospects.
Many businesses are already engaging in some level of social selling. If you have a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or accounts on Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, then you have begun establishing a social media presence.
Why Social Selling Is a Must-Have for Your Business
You may have some reservations about social media’s potential impact on your company’s marketing and sales performance. Here are six key reasons why you should incorporate social selling into your strategy.
Your Customers and Prospects Are Engaging in Social Buying
When customers need a solution, they usually don’t approach a salesperson at once. They do their own research instead, browsing the internet for answers and gathering input from their network.
Aside from your website, potential customers also check your social media accounts. They use reviews and posts to assess your company’s reliability or expertise. A strong social media presence is especially helpful for new or small businesses that are still growing their reputation and reach.
Social Selling Gives Your Sales Team an Edge over the Competition
More than 70 percent of sales professionals are already using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social selling tools. Training your sales team to maximize social media gives them a competitive edge over your competitors. It keeps them updated on technologies and strategies for getting more qualified leads, engaging with prospects, and closing more deals.
Social Selling Can Boost Your Sales Team’s Results
In an internal study, LinkedIn found that sales representatives with a high social selling index have 45 percent more sales opportunities. Fifty-one percent are more likely to reach their quota, and 78 percent outsell those who are not utilizing social media.
You Can Get More Leads in Less Time
Social selling tools make it easier for sales teams to find and target people who fit your company’s buyer personas. In a 2016 CSO Insights study, 39 percent of respondents said that social selling tools decreased their contact research time. A third (33 percent) said it increased their leads and improved lead conversion rates by 24 percent.
With even more people engaging with social media these days, those numbers would have only gone up.
You Can Build an Online Reputation
Social media allows your satisfied customers to leave reviews and ratings. These positive feedback can help convince prospects that your company is trustworthy. Additionally, social media allows your team to quickly address questions about your product or respond to complaints before they can hurt your reputation. Southwest Airlines, for example, uses its Facebook page to respond to customers’ problems in the comments section.
You Can Get Higher Sales Revenue
Social selling can increase your profit in several ways. Positive reviews and high customer ratings can help you attract more buyers. In addition, posting promotions on your social media pages, sharing links to your products or online stores, and running well-targeted ads enable you to put your offers in front of more prospects.
At the same time, nurturing your relationship with your leads and customers builds trust. Consumer trust can improve conversion rates and brand loyalty. It may even earn your sales team several referrals or introductions to mutual connections.
How to Include Social Selling in Your Marketing Strategy
Because social selling requires an investment of time, money, and human resources, you want to make sure you’re doing it right so you can hit your business goals and recover your investment. Here’s how to include social selling into your marketing strategy.
Set Goals and Measure Your ROI
Link your social selling goals to your company’s business objectives. Identify how you can maximize social selling to reach or even surpass these objectives. Aside from direct sales, brainstorm ways to use social media to educate your prospects, demonstrate your knowledge in your field, and provide more value.
When measuring your ROI, go beyond social media’s contribution to your profit. Include indicators like having more followers or subscribers, increased engagements, or higher gated content downloads.
Create a Social Selling Strategy
Limiting your posts to promotional content about your products will not help you develop a stronger relationship with your leads. Your prospects need to know how your company can help solve their problems or improve their lives. Start by trying to know more about your ideal clients: their pain points, interests, aspirations, and behavior. Practice social listening and list down their issues, suggestions, and struggles.
Next, improve your social media profiles so prospects can easily find you online. Include links to your website or other social media pages, so customers can follow you on their preferred platforms. Put yourself in your leads’ shoes and ask yourself what other information they may want to see on your page. Make it easy for them to find useful tips or links to your FAQ page, as well as your product pricing, order form, or a link to your online store.
Aside from organically growing your social media accounts, you can boost your following and reach by running paid ads. With social media’s targeting options, you can have the ad shown to people in a specific age group, income, location, occupation, interest, and other criteria.
Top 5 Social Selling Strategies
Now that you know the basics, follow the five tips below to level up your social selling skills.
Practice Social Listening
This is how HubSpot defines social listening:
The monitoring of your brand’s social media channels for any customer feedback and direct mentions of your brand or discussions regarding specific keywords, topics, competitors, or industries, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on those opportunities.”
During your research, find out what your customers are saying about your company. When they leave positive reviews, thank them. If they report issues, apologize and use this as an opportunity to turn an unsatisfied customer into a happy customer. For example, if they are disappointed with the product’s quality, guide them through the return or refund process.
Be sure to monitor queries, too. Find out what questions your prospective customers are asking about your products, competitors, or industry.
Always Provide Value
Social media platforms give your business plenty of opportunities to provide value. For instance, your sales team can jump in conversations to offer actionable insights or personalized solutions. Take Louis Vuitton, for example, whose team uses Twitter as a customer service platform.
You can also publish a helpful blog, infographic, or video that addresses your customers’ pain points. Be sure to use relevant hashtags in your posts to make it easier for your target audience to find your message.
By consistently providing value, your business will eventually be recognized as reliable. Your target audience will follow you and may even start leaving questions on your page, giving you a chance to educate them or overcome their reservations about buying from you.
Share Success Stories
Aside from providing valuable information, you can strengthen trust by sharing your customers’ success stories on social media. Add credibility by including more details about the customer, such as his or her image, full name, position, and company. You can either share an excerpt from the customer’s story or publish it as part of an interview or case study.
Aside from sharing how your customers succeeded with your company’s help, mention some strategies or best practices that your prospects can also replicate. This way, you don’t just talk about a current customer’s wins. You’re also showing your future customers how they can enjoy the same success.
Establish Yourself as an Expert or a Trustworthy Brand
Build credibility using both your expertise and your customers’ reviews. Aside from publishing relevant content on your website, create articles on LinkedIn or write a guest post on leading blogs in your industry, sharing the link on social media. Red Stag Fulfillment, for example, promoted its employee’s guest post on its social media account.
Maximize social platforms’ features to provide social proof. Encourage customers to leave a review on your Facebook page or a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile.
Nurture Your Target Clients
Understand that your prospects may not be ready to buy from you just yet. Keep providing helpful information on social media. Use social tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Twitter lists, and Hootsuite’s social listening feature to monitor discussions and organize your lead-nurturing efforts.
Continue to engage by liking posts, participating in relevant discussions, and crafting insightful content. Encourage people to leave a question or comment on your posts and respond to them. Show them that you’re not just on the platform to sell, but you genuinely want to help. SEO Reseller, for example, provides webinars to customers, helping them reach their revenue goals.
Social selling goes beyond creating social media accounts and promoting your business. It’s about building relationships with your current and future customers. And as with any relationship, you must listen, respond, participate in conversations, and provide value.
Done right, social selling benefits both your customers and your brand. Your clients get to have a positive experience with your company, and your business enjoys higher revenues and continues to attract new and repeat customers.
By Vincent Sevilla