It has always been a challenge for sellers to get noticed by targeted decision-makers’ and encourage “organic” sales. And with the advent of the digital age, technology is coming In handy to achieve the main objective of selling – drawing a customer to the seller’s product. Social Media by far has become the most powerful way to reach and communicate with your audience. Social selling tools like Linkedin prospector and personalized video messages have become very handy and effective for sales reps
Social Selling has come into prominence and will reign for a very long time.
Did You Know?
The most powerful reasons a buyer prefers a seller are authenticity and relationship. Social Selling is a long term strategy and ideal for B2B where business relationships are set for a long time.
Why is Social Selling Important?
Salespeople who used social selling sold at least 1.5x of their peers who didn’t. And this is only the beginning. Platforms like Linkedin and tools like the Linkedin Prospector have been found to be very effective by B2B professionals in every sector. Social Selling users create 40% plus more opportunities. About 45% of Linkedin readers are in senior positions in the corporate world. And, over 50% of traffic to B2B sites come from Linkedin viewers.These indicators make Social Selling a powerful way to reach customers in the most convenient manner. No business, small, medium or big can ignore this phenomenon.
Social Selling offers several benefits like:
1. Growth Trajectory:
Social Selling is based on the usage of Social Media. Social Media, as we all know, is growing at an exponential rate. More the numbers in Social Media, the larger is the volume of the target audience for Social Selling. Thus, with no special effort, the advertiser gets a wider reach to a quality audience.
2. Viewer Retention:
Often, when people visit a search engine to look for a product, they are shown several sites that offer the desired products. Most B2B sellers have an active social media presence and this surfaces in the search. The viewer is able to read product specifications, articles and reviews. By making the pages informative and useful to the reader, viewership residence duration is increased. Viewers can then send their queries or ask for a quote.
3. Leading to Websites:
Many large companies use Social Media to publish customer stories, articles, user-generated content and product information that helps prospective buyers do their own research. This provides increased opportunities to engage with the viewer and guide them to the most appropriate solution they are looking for.. The biggest advantage is that LinkedIn is the preferred destination for every B2B professional. You can instantly get a pulse on their likes and dislikes, their connections and a lot more.Thereafter, through appropriate responses, relationships are built. With planned, persistent effort, these efforts will get converted into leads.
4. Brand Improvement:
Creating a strong brand is tough. Sustaining it is tougher. Traditional channels are often prohibitively expensive and the dispersed viewer attention they offer makes them more unviable. In Social Selling, companies use Social Media as a platform to showcase the strengths and features of their brands. Through regular feeds which offer rich information that is interesting and educative, companies establish their authenticity and their brands grow stronger without any push effort.
5. Developing Customer Loyalty:
In Social Selling, companies do not take the aggressive pushing posture that puts off people. Instead, they focus more on relationships, and interaction to understand customer needs more clearly, share information based on customer queries and thus develop a strong bond with the customer. If done right, customers will prefer to buy products only from those with whom they have a good relationship. Customer loyalty is thus a big bonus of Social Selling. Customer retention, which is as important and far less expensive than new customer acquisition, is also achieved.
6. Readymade Audience:
Social Selling companies have one big advantage. Their target audience is almost always online. And when online, the chance of them using Social Media is very high. And there you are. Ready with your attractive message, banner, story or feed in some form to draw the viewer to your company.
Top Three Trends in Social Selling
Social Selling is the in-thing in selling today. Its exponential growth over a very short span of time has drawn the undivided attention of sales strategists and technologists alike. While sales strategists are coming up with brilliant new ideas and initiatives, technologists are keeping pace by developing new tools which enable the ideas to be practically implemented.
In Social Selling as a whole, and in B2B in particular, the following top three trends are clear:
1. Direct Messaging
2. Use Social Media to Find Leads
3. Online Credibility
This is the most trending practice at present. LinkedIn Messaging, especially LinkedIn InMail, opens great opportunities for sales reps to personally interact with prospective buyers. In the comfort of privacy, it encourages prospects to seek clarifications and ask questions. The interaction is friendly and informal. Buyers do not feel the pressure of a sales call.
Once smooth communication is established and the preliminary exchange of information is complete, sales reps can take it forward for more detailed interaction through other channels. Email messaging is a proven way to send more product information and offers. In this context, personalized video messages have shown tremendous promise.
Customers dislike long, winding text messages. Most of them neither read nor absorb the full text content. Today, personalized video messaging rules the roost.
Videos, especially sending a personalized video message, have been able to break through barriers of mindset, creating a strong impulse in viewers to click and view. No text can come anywhere close to this to draw a customer’s attention.
Videos have several advantages:
a) Videos communicate far more convincingly than text.
b) Customers get a much clearer picture of what they are buying.
c) A video demo of a machine in operation is as good as a factory visit.
d) You can convey a lot of useful, detailed information in a video much faster.
e) Customers are far more likely to focus and assimilate information from a video.
f) A vast majority of viewers are more likely to stay on to fully watch a video than insipid text.
g) Finally, there is nothing more effective than a personalized video message to break all barriers between the seller and the buyer. Go through the Report to see what Gartner, the global leader in business research, says about the power, relevance, and effectiveness of Video Messaging. Click Here to read the full report.
Use Social Media to Find Leads
This is another hot trend in social selling. Any attempt at a sale begins with identifying a prospect. Thus, lead generation is of paramount importance. And for B2B, no tool has come anywhere close to LinkedIn Prospector. With its depth of data, filtering features, and reach to the right people, LinkedIn has proven to be the most effective channel for lead generation. Through LinkedIn, the sales rep can find a wealth of information about the prospect. Studying the prospect’s profile helps in understanding the person in terms of career history, shared connections, membership in groups, specific interests, and much more. By constantly following the prospect, observing her or his activities, and commenting where appropriate, the bond slowly becomes stronger. A relationship built over time is generally stronger and more enduring. Also, periodic interaction creates credibility and mutual trust.
Some of the ways a connection can be converted into a lead are:
a) Share information of webinars, events and activities that may interest the prospect.
b) Understand the pain points that the prospecting is facing.
c) Offer free trials or a demo for the prospect to understand the solution.
d) When appropriate send time bound special offers.
Building social proof and online credibility is a very important part of social selling. Sellers are making focused efforts to achieve this. While developing a connection, you must ensure that it does not remain just a contact or a fragile acquaintance. The objective must be to build a strong rapport on which mutual trust can be built. Since you represent your brand, the prospect perceives you and your brand as having a single identity. Here are some effective ways of improving relationships:
a) Share reviews and testimonials about your brand.
b) Actively engage in your prospect’s content through comments and direct messages.
c) Genuinely care for the prospect and show it subtly.
d) Be open and transparent.
e) Maintain communication in a planned, periodic manner.
All these call for effort and patience. But, recognize that these are investments to create a mutually fruitful long-term business relationship.
Enhancing Credibility Through Online Communities
Whom would you trust more—the seller or your friendly fellow industrialist? Instinctively, you tend to believe your friend. That’s natural. Extend the term ‘friend to ‘community’. If you find a community that is active and shares a lot of information of common interest, you will be quite happy to be there.
Social media has enabled the formation of such community groups where people with specific interests come together. Through close and active interaction, they gain knowledge on the subject (or a product) to make decisions.Almost every social media platform encourages the formation of such user groups. By sharing information about themselves and encouraging community members to participate in discussions and the exchange of ideas, they create a durable brand bond among members. LinkedIn groups are one of the best examples of active communities. And once in the group, a handy tool like LinkedIn Prospector will do the work for you.
Where is Social Selling Heading?
We have seen the rapid growth of social media. So we can safely bet that social selling is heading skyward in its growth trajectory. It only remains to be seen how ingenious and creative sellers can get ahead of the competition.
Forbes quotes a Gartner report that states that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales communications will occur on digital channels. (Click here to see more.)
Observation of the trends in social selling gives you an idea of what steps you should take to stay ahead in your business.
Social selling is here to stay. And grow. Sales professionals must equip themselves with every available weapon in their arsenal and use what is most appropriate in a given situation. If 80% of B2B is going to use this route, you better get ready to rise to the challenge.