Why is social selling important, and first of all, what is social selling? It’s no longer the new guy on the block in the world of sales. But on so many podcasts and in so many blog posts I see slightly wayward interpretations of what the term really means.
I want to address that, and realign why social selling is important to begin with.
There is no doubt that social media can be a rich ground for lead generation, business development and for sales in all capacities. But social selling isn’t necessarily selling on social media. But let’s start with the basics before we go any further into this…
What is social selling?
To me, (a person who social sells every day of the year) social selling is the art of building strategic relationships with buyers and being more than the money-taker from them at the end of the buying cycle.
There is a whole world that salespeople have not delved into that can support them in initially winning and then keeping the attention of their buyer. If a salesperson just uses the phone and email to sell, they miss out on vital intelligence and opportunity to strengthen relationships.
Salespeople have a huge problem. Nobody wants to be sold to, and there are lots of salespeople asking for the time of busy buyers.
So the massive difference social selling makes is you can become visible (seen and not ignored) on social, connected on a personal and professional level (think of the levels of rapport being built there compared to the relationships built over email alone, for example).
And if I really care about the buyer and solving their problems, I can introduce them to people I know in my network who may solve their other problems, or even could become customers of theirs.
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If I really care about my buyer and pushing them to succeed, I can share their content and give them the visibility so that they reach further on social and bring more people into contact with their brand.
Thinking even beyond the initial deal being signed, I can become a raving advocate for my client. When they win, I can celebrate it with them on social and wave the flag for them.
In the same way, you congratulate your friends on getting a new job, social selling allows the seller to be the advocate who celebrates and helps then key events happen in their world. Just like we all do for our friends and family.
Why is social selling important?
That all sounds great but does it actually make a difference?
The answer is yes. It’s 6x easier to upsell an existing client than to win a new one. So if you can build on the existing relationships, call it social selling account development if you like, that’s a big positive.
In too many cases a deal is won and the salesperson is never heard of or seen again by the client until 6 months down the line they want to “check in” about the successes had in the first few months so they can upsell.
Social is the contrast to that. After winning a deal, you have the chance to then become an advocate for your client so that you are now checking in after 6 months with no contact.
You are keeping the track warm, helping them promote their message and achieve their goals with your assistance and help on social. It takes much less effort and time than you think as well.
Pressing share on a post by a client and writing a short caption and tagging them doesn’t take long. But what it does do, is shows them you paid attention, took a moment to share their message, gave them some visibility and more importantly you haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth from them now you have won a deal.
We have all heard the saying that people do business with those they like and trust. So if you are a genuine person who takes some time to do a quick social favour for clients when there is something to share on, or you can connect them with a person they need to speak to, you show your trustworthiness.
You must be thought of as a credible person by your client otherwise they wouldn’t have bought from you, so by keeping in contact and being their number 1 fan you are building on that credibility, relationship and trust.
This can result in referrals, upsells or at the very worst, a client who will appreciate you.
On the frontlines, the attention winning piece of social selling is a major advantage. Getting into a conversation in a timely manner, with strong messaging and with value at top of mind you can strike up a conversation with just about anybody.
Find me on Instagram and you’ll see me at football matches, so you can talk to me about football. Find me on Twitter talking about social selling (my niche and the topic I care about), weigh in with your 2 cents on an article I shared or wrote. You can do the same on LinkedIn too.
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People actually want engagement on social media. So I will respond, but I don’t really want emails or phone calls where I know the agenda is working towards a sales conversation.
That is one of the keys too. People want to spend their time on social, so that is where you can reach them. I’m a busy man, so it’s quite hard to call me at a time that suits me.
It’s hard to reach the inbox of a busy C level executive and break through the 1000 other tasks and people that need their attention.
Adverts are printed in newspapers because we know that people look at and buy newspapers, you can get attention and visibility there. The same goes for nearly every TV station, there are advertising breaks paid for by people who want you to see what they have.
So think about how you are doing this as a salesperson. I personally don’t watch the television for more than 2 hours per week, so not many advertisers touch me there.
I do watch a lot of YouTube videos to help me learn and develop, so if there is a place I can be marketed and sold to it is there, where I spend time and pay attention.
I spend hours per week on LinkedIn because I love it, so if you want to speak to me you have a 100% chance of me reading your message if you send it to me there. You’ve got a 1% chance if I get left a voicemail.
“My buyers aren’t social”
The truth is, they are way more than you think. A simple search in LinkedIn Sales Navigator can show you just how many LinkedIn people are in your target market.
I can understand that in very niche industries, there is a finite number of companies and buyers you can connect with. But if we think of the vast majority of B2B sales, you can find a wealth of people who are exactly what you’re looking for.
For a moment let’s consider the industries where buyers are laggard on social.
For example, I have spent time looking at the public sector in Europe and to be honest, it is not easy to find too many people who are socially active and have filled out their profiles fully. As a salesperson with numbers to hit, you’re not always thinking of the long term.
There is pressure and I understand why your natural instinct tells you that if they’re not easy to talk to on social, it’s best to try elsewhere.
The thing is, in years to come these laggard industries will no longer be laggards.
Sure, there are still some minorities but for example since the industrial revolution, how many people are there living in this world today without electricity and power… there are still people who live completely self sufficiently but we are talking about a tiny percentage of the world.
Eventually, change reaches us all. So if not today, then tomorrow or the next day your buyer will become more and more reachable on social if they are not already.
It is best to be practicing social selling now, so you have experienced it with your buyers before they all become social. Just like in football we say it’s important to practice penalty kicks before you are thrown into a penalty shootout in a match.
Practicing while the pressure is slightly off, and you have time on your side is a key advantage you can take if your target markets are laggard right now.
Don’t view social selling as a method to just get some appointments for now. Think of it as a growing channel, a place where you’re able to build your own presence and reputation but also connect with others in order to have a relevant conversation.
In sales, one of the hardest things to do is to get a real conversation started with anyone. So if it is quite simple to do on social, that’s a good thing, right?
Think of this as a long-term play. Put in the time, bit by bit to build on this. The more you practice now, the better you will be in the long run when social selling becomes bigger and bigger in years to come.