The classic customer journey is evolving. B2B and BSC buyers spend more time online than ever, use social media for researching and scoping and are ready to make informed purchasing decisions even before sellers contact them. They are difficult to convince and become a formidable force against ads. That’s why social selling is gaining momentum.
Why is social selling a buzzword?
Nearly half of digital buyers worldwide stated that reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media impacts their purchases. Similarly, according to a recent report made by Forrester, 74% of B2B buyers do more than half of their research online before making a purchase or contacting a salesperson.
That means that buyers are not waiting for a call to start their customer journey any more. As buyers already start their journey through social media, the sellers’ challenge is to make shoppers find them during their researching process and to close a deal. And this is absolutely in keeping with social selling’s definition.
According to Forbes , the term social selling stands for:
» “A way for sales teams to use social media to connect with prospects, and provide them with value. Consider it similar to lead nurturing, in the sense that your goal is to engage buyers on an on-going, long-term basis”. «
The priorities are clear: prospects’ needs first, selling second. But the question is not if, but how. Is the purposeless, inflationary use of social media the perfect formula? No, it is not!
- Identifying the target group and which social media platforms they use. There are different social media platforms and not all of them are used by any target group. This can depend on age, interests, industry, etc. For this reason, in order to be where the audience is, it is indispensable to identify their social media preferences first.
Fact: Over 76% of buyers feel ready to have a social media conversation. [LinkedIn]
- Building an interesting network of contacts and brand awareness. The main idea is to create a community and gain influence little by little by educating the audience on a daily basis and increasing the share of voice, with the objective of being known for doing a specific activity and having a good knowledge about it, such as music instruments. For instance: A salesperson can begin adding thought leaders > share their content > share own content to build brand > create a powerful network > follow up.
Fact: 82% of all prospects can be reached through social media [InsideView]
- Compelling and convenient content. The content should respond to the main challenges, doubts and troubles of the audience to generate more leads and increase engagement. Similarly, sharing content from reputable sources helps to increase credibility.
Fact: Over 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespersons that connect with relevant insights and opportunities [LinkedIn]
- The more interactions, the more brand awareness. None of all makes sense if there are no interactions with the network. There are multiple ways of interacting, such as making comments to some articles posted by an interesting target, adding the target to a second social network or using a contact in common to perform a warm introduction. Buyers should see sellers as trusted advisors who offer not only a service or product, but add-value experiences.
Fact: 72% of world-class companies find that social media is a highly effective tool to identify new business opportunities [HubSpot]
- Close collaboration between the areas of marketing, sales and IT. As we have already picked up from the latest HubSpot report, it is proved that the alignment of marketing and sales teams increase the effectiveness of marketing strategies (and social media strategies and social selling programs).
Fact: 82 % of those, who said that their marketing strategy is effective, have a very tightly aligned marketing and sales relationship. [HubSpot]
- Following up and keeping being informed. Obtaining good feedback from prospects and listening to them (Why are they frustrated, what are their pain points?) can lead to relevant propositions that are likely to generate revenues.
Fact: 62% of salespeople who do not use social selling routinely miss their quotas. [The Aberdeen Group]
Social selling is a buzzword for a good reason. Big players get excellent results by implementing a serious social selling program. For example, with its inbound social selling program, IBM achieved a sales increase of 400% and Paypal Australia achieves 3000% ROI.
The only secret for succeeding in social selling is to use clear criteria, to communicate directly and provide a personal approach to the prospects, and to keep the relationships alive beyond the purchase.
When social selling programs and social media activities start to reap their benefits, the lead generation will be so massive that it will be difficult to manage it without automating tools. At that point, CRM tools can play a big role to empower the network and increase the ROI.