Given the hyper-competitive marketplaces businesses operate in, the traditional sales generation techniques are hardly enough for finding prospects and growing revenue. Advertising, for instance, takes on a passive approach to sales. Cold calling and email outreach, however, are more proactive. Yet, they often come across as aggressive and intrusive, especially when they are unsolicited.
Today, thanks to data digitization and the internet, customers can find product details, compare services, read real customer reviews, and make their purchasing decisions on their own at the click of a button. Therefore, businesses must rethink their sales strategy to thrive in a more connected digital environment.
To be effective, selling can no longer be transactional or one-off. You need to get to know your prospects at a deeper level and nurture authentic relationships that last longer. This is exactly what social selling is about.
What Is Social Selling, and How Does It Work?
Social selling uses social media platforms to learn more about customers, understand their needs, and build relationships that eventually translate into sales.
But, make no mistake; this is not the same as direct messaging a random group of customers on Facebook or Twitter. That involves cold outreach and hard selling.
Social selling is about engaging your customers, having meaningful conversations, listening to their opinions and aspirations, and developing connections that go beyond a mere transaction.
How can it help your business? To begin with, social media networks command 60% of the global population and nine out of ten internet users. And they have access to deep insights about the individuals who interact on their platforms—from names, ages, and locations to interests and activities. These are vital details, which enable you to gain an in-depth understanding of your prospects, tailor your communications, and build deeper relationships to achieve improved results.
Moreover, a significant number of social media users already rely on networking sites to find products and services. They get involved in brand conversations, share their experiences, and seek recommendations from other users. And chances are, your competitors are already leveraging social selling to reach these potential leads. So, when you forego this important selling technique, you could lose critical opportunities to your competition.
Besides, all data points to a positive correlation between social selling and sales growth. One study suggests that businesses can increase the likelihood of achieving their revenue targets by as much as 51% using this unique sales strategy.
Best of all, it is not just the large enterprises that stand to gain from social selling. Any type of business can benefit from it, even small organizations and startups.
Best Tips for Social Selling
Selling becomes much more efficient when it involves two-way engagement. This is what social selling focuses on, enabling you to amplify sales in a purposeful manner that benefits all stakeholders.
Here’s how you can utilize it for business success.
1. Identify the best networking platforms for your brand
Establishing a presence on as many social media sites as possible can be tempting. But that will eat into your budgets, resources, and time and gradually diminish the return on your efforts.
Remember, each social media site attracts a different audience and has its own engagement norms. Instagram, for instance, predominantly caters to younger users and encourages a more casual style of conversation. LinkedIn, however, is a platform for professionals and promotes formal engagement through content that covers business insights and professional growth. Facebook, on the other hand, sits in between them and is known for a semi-casual vibe.
To determine which platforms can yield the best results for you, assess your product or service, brand personality, and customer profile first. If you are selling a software product, establishing a presence on LinkedIn is a must. But when you want to promote yoga mats, being present on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest would prove more prudent.
2. Set up detailed profiles
Having a killer profile is crucial to be effective on social media. To create a great first impression:
- Ensure all fields are complete. The more information you provide, the better your customers can get to know you.
- Showcase your expertise.
- Add reviews and testimonials to create credibility.
- Include active language with power words.
- Use professionally written content and proofread it to avoid typos and grammatical errors.
- Add good-quality images.
Check your competitors’ pages and profiles of businesses and professionals from other industries to find inspiration and tips. Also, don’t forget to insert a few keywords for which you would like to be found during search queries. But use them sparingly to prevent an overly orchestrated profile.
3. Build connections
To create familiarity and nurture relationships on networking platforms, you need to engage with your audience.
- Identify potential leads by using your customer personas as search criteria. For instance, try searching by age, location, or interests to uncover relevant profiles. You can also use Leadar to find prospects and connect with them on social media.
- Regularly post relevant, valuable, and shareable content.
- Interact with users who comment, like, or share your posts. Take an active interest in what they have to say and engage with their content. However, don’t overdo it by, for example, liking everything they post.
- Maintain authentic engagement with meaningful comments, advice, and suggestions.
- Join social media communities related to your industry and product, and use them to become part of conversations.
4. Leverage specialized tools
Social media sites offer a variety of tools to find leads, build connections, and engage prospects. For example, you can set up notifications to receive alerts based on your interests. This will allow you to know what your customers are talking about, stay updated on your competitors’ activities, and always be a part of trending conversations.
Some platforms even provide lead prospecting tools to optimize your lead generation efforts. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, for instance, enables you to track customer engagement, reach out to them using InMail, and identify prospects based on search criteria and mutually known connections.
Social selling is not an overnight process. It will take time to generate effective results. So, be consistent and authentic in your efforts, and focus on nurturing long-term relationships instead of short-term sales.
Moreover, make use of data insights. These will be invaluable for you to track what is working and fine-tune your interactions for optimum results.