When companies were forced to go remote due to COVID-19 restrictions, sales prospecting became more difficult, and turning to social media often was the only way to connect and engage with potential customers. Now? It’s come to the forefront as one the most powerful ways to ignite relationships with B2B buyers and a key pathway to a sale.
The numbers support the rise in social selling: While 90% of decision makers will never answer a cold call, over 60% of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who reach out on social platforms with relevant insights and opportunities.1 In fact, a study conducted by LinkedIn showed that social selling contributes at least half of the revenue for 14 major industries, including computer and network security to health care, and financial services.
Source: Investigating the Truth About Social Selling. LinkedIn Sales Blog
It seems the unique challenges of a digital environment unlocked a golden opportunity for marketing teams to tap into their expertise and partner with sales to make social selling more effective—from messaging and content development to personal branding.
Now that you know how much money is on the table, here are three ways to help your Go-to-Market teams become social-selling pros.
1. Focus on enablement
More than 75% of sales reps report not receiving any social media training. With that, the most-cited reason they aren’t using social media as a prospecting tool is “not understanding how to use the platforms.”
Sales reps are busy cold-calling, running demos and presentations, managing contract negotiations and, in many cases, nurturing relationships with existing customers. The best way to ensure adoption is with training sessions to demonstrate the value of social selling and provide resources that will make the process easier and more comfortable.
Focus on the following areas.
- Personal branding: Cover all the basics, from professional headshots, brand-aligned graphics and profiles, to industry-specific insights that your reps can leverage to position themselves as thought leaders. Social selling is not about going for the hard-sell with prospects, but focusing on valuable interactions and content. You can encourage them to take advantage of your company’s proprietary research or suggest specialized publications.
- Digital voice: As with any other marketing strategy, when implementing social selling, meet your customers where they are. For example, decision-makers from a cybersecurity firm might be active on LinkedIn or Twitter, while small business owners might be found on Instagram or Facebook. Each channel might require a different tone, so it’s important that your reps utilize a digital voice that represents your brand’s mission and values that resonates with that audience.
- Proficiency with platforms: As noted, lack of understanding on how to use social media is one of the biggest obstacles for sales people to embrace social selling. You can bridge this gap by making sure they know what tools are available and how they can effectively manage them. Consider creating “how to” videos or documents that walk them through social media basics. One of the preferred tools in the B2B space is LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This platform allows you to get notifications and insights about companies, such as new funding rounds or key stakeholders’ role changes. One of the most powerful things about an industry-focused network is that you can reach out to your prospects’ shared contacts and ask for introductions. For a deeper dive into social selling on LinkedIn, check out this HubSpot Guide. Reps will find similar functionality on Twitter, where you can follow industry influencers and hashtags, and set up alerts when a target account or prospect shares content that is relevant to your product or service.
- Nurturing leads: Social selling is not meant to be an immediate closing technique. Sales teams should view it as a lead-nurturing strategy that will require persistence and consistency. In enablement sessions, set the right expectations and emphasize that social selling is a prospecting technique that will help you generate Top-of-Funnel activity. Social selling is about building relationships. Sales reps should follow their prospects on social media and participate in discussions they are having online by commenting with industry-related information, not promoting your products directly. If a prospect is part of your rep’s network, encourage them to share insights about the latest trends in your space, meaningful case studies from current customers, etc. This is the perfect setting to demonstrate your industry knowledge and position yourself as a trusted advisor and thought leader.
- Success stories: Just like you rely on customer stories to prove product value to your prospects, empowering reps to share their best practices can inspire their peers to embrace new selling tactics. Some of the most successful companies include social selling as part of the onboarding curriculum for new hires.
2. Show them the proof points
At the end of the day, the most important thing for sales people is hitting their revenue numbers. When designing a social selling strategy, the “why” will be as important as the how. There’s plenty of research out there on how reps who leverage social selling outperform their peers. To help you make your case, here are some of the most relevant stats:
- Salespeople who use social selling are 51% more likely to reach quota than those who don’t
- Using social selling tools can increase win rate by 5% and deal size by 35%
- Sales professionals who use social selling are able to effectively qualify leads, deliver bids, and negotiate renewal deals, leading to 40-50% more new business, and retention rates between 80-90%
3. Track and measure
As you set up your CRM to track Marketing-Qualified-Leads (MQL’s) and referrals, add a field for sales reps to account for the leads that have been sourced via social selling. This will allow you to set up concrete metrics and identify top performers. You can then use this information to make adjustments to your plan or pilot, and share best practices during your enablement sessions. Keeping track of the Top-of-Funnel activity that’s coming via social selling will give both sales and marketing leadership visibility into the success of the program and will help secure additional resources for tools or enablement curriculum.
Take the next step
Social selling is an effective tool to fill your Top-of-Funnel activity with qualified leads. Your prospects are already evaluating and making decisions based on the resources they have available online. The better equipped your sales team is to engage with them with meaningful content and market insights, the more likely those interactions will translate into improved performance both for your reps and your company.
Is your company enabling its sales reps for effective social selling? What are the challenges you’ve been encountering? What tools have you found most helpful?
Here are some additional resources that can help you design an impactful social selling plan:
- Social Selling Mastery: Scaling Up Your Sales and Marketing Machine for the Digital Buyer. Jamie Shanks
- Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers. Tim Hughes
- Webinar: How to Train Your Sales Team on Social Selling