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Is Social Selling Right for Your Business?

Date published: September 05, 2017
Last updated: September 5, 2017

By now you’ve likely heard about social selling—an emerging technique for driving sales and building powerful relationships with prospects and customers alike.

But unless you’ve actually engaged in social selling already, you may be unclear on exactly what it is, and how it could be implemented to help improve the way that you do business and engage with your clientele. Before you decide to start incorporating social selling into your sales model, read on to learn more about what it is, what it’s not, why it works, and how to do it effectively.

What Social Selling Is—and What It’s Not

You would be forgiven for thinking that social selling is the same thing as social media marketing or social media advertising. After all, the names all seem to suggest an incredibly close link—but the similarities really end with the use of social media to accomplish each. While social media marketing involves using social profiles to publish promotional material and social media advertising involves buying ad space on social channels,social selling is much more interactive—it’s a dialogue between you and those parties who are interested in your products or services.

Why Is It Effective?

Is your business still making cold calls? While cold calling used to be the order of the day, more and more sales teams are abandoning it—and for good reason.Over 90 per cent of cold calls are unsuccessful in achieving their desired goal, which is largely attributed to the fact that people just do not enjoy being called on the phone by a stranger. There’s also very little context for a cold call—hence the “cold” in its name. So if it takes so much of your time and produces such poor results, why not switch over to a better alternative?

Social selling, on the other hand, circumvents this issue by seeking out people who are already interested in buying a product or service. By engaging in “social listening,” sales teams are able to keep an eye open for key indicators of intent to purchase, as well as for people who are interested but are seeking out recommendations, additional information, or expressing pain points in the buying process.

Social selling works because it’s not about throwing a sales pitch at every person you possibly can and hoping it sinks in somewhere—instead, you find people who are already interested in what you have to offer, and you help them along in the process. Instead of a sales pitch, you offer insights, suggestions, answers, and anything else that helps build trust in your brand.

How to Do It Right

First, you need to understand the social habits of your customer base. For example, most successful B2B social selling occurs through LinkedIn since it is geared towards professional networking, while a significant amount of B2C social selling happens on Twitter.

Next, you need to know what you are looking for. Fortunately for you, people frequently use social media to express their interest in a product or service before buying it, often in the hope of receiving advice or recommendations. This is where the aforementioned social listening comes in—your sales team needs to know how to follow trends and keywords that indicate high levels of interest. Some of this process can be automated, but it’s best to keep a human element involved too.

The most important step is to know how to engage with potential prospects. On LinkedIn or Facebook, it helps to get an introduction through a mutual contact, if possible. In any sphere, however, it’s essential to know just how to communicate with leads in a way that isn’t pushy or likely to make them uncomfortable. As stated above, it’s important to build a strong relationship with them that focuses less on closing the deal and more on addressing their unique needs as a buyer. This sort of care and attention to detail is what turns a potential buyer into a customer, and a customer into a returning customer, as it instills in them a sense of trust in you and your brand, and they will associate you with a positive emotional experience, making them more likely to come back to you or recommend you to a friend or family member.

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