In the two years since I took my first course on social selling, the approach has reached buzzword status as it spreads throughout B2B sales teams. There has been a lot of debate as to what social selling is as well as what it’s not. But one thing is undeniable – it’s useful. Teams that successfully employ social selling convert customers at a higher rate, acquire new customers faster, and are more likely to hit their revenue goals.
While no one LinkedIn comment or Twitter like has closed a deal on its own, social selling has become a way for high-performing sales teams to provide value to prospects long before closing a contract. But as great as social selling may be, sales teams still require traditional communication channels, like email and meetings, to convert prospects into paying customers. Or do they?
Since joining the SalesWise team in April, I have continued to use social selling techniques to better understand prospects and customers. Having the more complete picture of who is involved in an account that SalesWise offers has complimented my social efforts because I have a more informed sense of who to target with my sales outreach.
In this two-part blog, I will share the value of social selling and how the SalesWise platform enables you to capitalize on those benefits. In this post, I will examine what social selling is and where it falls in the broader spectrum of today’s B2B selling environment.
What Social Selling Is and Isn’t
According to HubSpot, “Social selling is when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects.” But it’s more than just using sites like Linkedin as a channel to connect to prospective clients. At its core, social selling is about fostering actual relationships with prospects by paying attention and understanding their interests in order to share useful insights that apply specifically to them.
Social media is a great tool for allowing salespeople to be more aware of a prospect, but sometimes, social selling goes awry by being overly ambitious, and thus off-putting. Social selling isn’t about stalking your prospects online, liking, and commenting on everything they post or blasting them with cold pitches via InMail once they connect with you. Of course, persistence is a necessary trait of a successful salesperson, but it’s important to strike a balance between being persistent and being overwhelming (and creepy for that matter).
Social Selling and Account-Based Everything
Learning what the individuals on buying committees—from influencers to champions, to the one signing the check—value and connecting them with compelling material across different channels aligns with best practices in the world of account-based marketing and selling.
A popular phrase is “socially surround your buyer.” Though this isn’t very different from the notion of strategically targeting a prospect company and the buyers within that account. In today’s world of account-based marketing and selling, social selling has become an indispensable tool for sales organizations who want to improve their game. It bridges the gap of the “cold” sales outreach. Instead, social selling brings personality into the sales process.
Social Selling Still Requires Selling
Social selling is supposed to be a compliment, not a substitute, to today’s sales practices. It shouldn’t be a replacement for using phone calls and emails for prospect outreach, nor should it eliminate face-to-face interactions. Ultimately, successful salespeople use social selling as an addendum to traditional approaches to get business done. Otherwise, sales professionals run the risk of being seen as just another spam-filled LinkedIn notification.
Understanding buyer engagement is just as important if you have nurtured a relationship with prospects at a target account, regardless of if that’s been through social channels or not. Understanding the personas of all the players that join an opportunity only enhances a well-crafted social selling and account-based process. At the end of the day, though, business is conducted via emails, meetings, and calls, like it has been since before the days of social selling.
Enabling Effective Social Selling
This post explored what social selling is and why it is important, but enabling effective social selling can be tricky. In Part 2, we’ll explore how the SalesWise platform makes social selling efforts more powerful by providing rich relationship context about prospective customers.