With internet users increasingly connected to the web via social networks, social selling has a bright future. Here’s a comprehensive overview of utilizing social networks in B2B and B2C sales processes.
Social Selling: A Clear Definition
Social selling is the art of subtly promoting a product or service through social networks. It involves using both professional and general social networks to identify prospects (potential buyers), listen to their needs, and provide them with added value to eventually encourage them to consider purchasing products or services.
This approach goes beyond simply running advertising campaigns on social networks to promote products or services. Instead, it’s a more holistic and indirect marketing and sales strategy on these platforms.
Social Selling: A Process and Its Purpose
The purpose of social selling is to generate sales through online marketing strategies conducted on social platforms. It indirectly aims to replace cold calling and cold emailing, which involve pushing a product or service to prospects who have not expressed interest in being approached by a salesperson. However, these traditional sales approaches can still be complementary to a social selling strategy.
It’s essential to note that social selling is not synonymous with spam. When properly integrated into storytelling and inbound marketing strategies, it allows you to better understand your target audience and generate new leads. This approach to social media marketing does not involve bombarding strangers with private messages on social networks.
Remember the principle of being more “interesting than interested,” which translates to: Aim to help, not to sell.
Who Uses Social Selling?
Social selling is primarily used by salespeople, marketers, and communicators. You might already be a social seller without even realizing it. If you have a LinkedIn profile, a company page on Facebook, an Instagram business account, a TikTok pro account, or a professional Twitter (X) account that you regularly update with value-added content for your target audience, then you have already taken steps towards social selling.
Why Engage in Social Selling?
Social selling allows you to:
- Interact directly with your target prospects in a more personalized way through social networks
- Stay close to your customers’ needs and encourage active listening
- Provide value to your target prospects with quality content, potentially leading to future purchases
- Ensure controlled visibility on social networks through personal profiles rather than just a logo
- Increase the visibility of your products and services on social networks
Purchases made directly or indirectly through social networks have never been more significant. Whether your business operates in the B2B or B2C sphere, potential customers are highly influenced by information shared on social networks and the web in general.
The Growing Importance of Social Selling
Consumers’ needs and expectations have evolved, shifting significantly towards the web. The explosion of online shopping on platforms like Amazon is proof of this. Distance selling is more essential than ever.
According to CRM publisher Hubspot, 64% of sales managers with a distance selling strategy (and the accompanying tools) met or exceeded their revenue goals in 2020.
Social Selling in B2B
Social selling is especially suited for B2B (business-to-business) interactions. B2B customers are no longer interested in mass messages without personalization. Instead, they prefer personalized communication.
For instance, only 1% of cold calls result in an appointment. With 59% of buyers no longer wanting to deal with salespeople (according to a Forrester study) and 75% making purchase decisions online, social selling has a crucial role to play.
Social selling provides an appropriate response to this paradigm shift. Salespeople still prospect, but the personalization of their messages and presence on social networks humanize their relationship with prospects, who then accept contact more easily.
Social Selling, indirect commercial prospecting?
A good Social Seller manages to use social networks to connect with the right people, at the right time, in the right place, with the right content in order to generate leads, visibility and value but always with a single objective. : to do business.
With or without social selling, the objective of a salesperson always remains the same: to sell his products or services.
With social selling, the salesperson becomes an advisor .
And this can be a very powerful lever: according to a Forbes article, 90% of the best salespeople in a company use social selling. According to this same article, 78% of companies that use this strategy outperform their competitors.
Social Selling is a powerful prospecting strategy and marketing approach.
By activating a prospect search process via social networks, the Social Seller will have access to an ultra-qualitative database. He will be able to see their different posts, comments, subscriptions, what they like, the people they follow and thus establish a standard profile that it will be easier for him to approach.
Social selling complements, not replaces, other marketing approaches
Social Selling will never completely replace traditional sales and marketing techniques (telephone prospecting, mailing, trade fairs, networks, etc.); it is an additional communication and sales channel .
It is growing more and more and helps to generate more hot leads.
When it is well mastered, social selling also promotes higher conversion rates on other acquisition channels, whether digital, associated with social networks or not.
Linkedin, the star social network for BtoB Social Selling
Before trying to set up a Social Selling strategy, it is essential to know why we are present on a social network and which one is best suited to what we want to offer to Internet users.
Linkedin is the major network for B2B in Social Selling . Twitter (X) is also a good social network halfway between b2b and b2c. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok will be more focused on B2C.
Number 1 professional social network, we currently have Linkedin:
- 546 million users worldwide
- 15 million users in France
- 20 million companies present on the platform
- 94% of BtoB merchants use LinkedIn to distribute content
Social Selling measured on Linkedin with the Social Selling Index (SSI)
Social Selling consists of targeting and creating a relationship with your prospects on social networks.
In practice, in B2B, we often use LinkedIn!
In fact, on the LinkedIn network, you can measure your Social Selling Index (SSI) since the spring of 2015, and it may be interesting to see how you perform on this network. This is according to LinkedIn:
An unprecedented measure of the adaptation by a company of the 4 pillars of selling on LinkedIn. The scale is from 0 to 100.
We therefore measure the performance or activity of one person out of 100, in the form of a free KPI that is accessible to all users of the platform. It comes in 4 parts, each rated from 1 to 25.
For example, a less active person will have a score of 20 while a very active person will have a score of 80 to 100.
How to do social selling on Linkedin? 4 steps to get started!
1. Build your professional brand
Be present in a qualitative way on social networks. A salesperson on LinkedIn must embody a professional and expert brand in his field of activity. Your profile should not be created like a CV, but should highlight what your buyers are looking for in you . Your buyers will not be looking for a salesperson who obtained such a diploma 20 years ago, but a specialist in such and such a field.
Your LinkedIn profile must then reflect the way you present yourself during a professional meeting. It is particularly important to take care of this one, because it is the first impression that you will give of yourself.
So, put a professional photo, take care of your presentation title, offer a summary that presents your skills and explain your way of putting your knowledge and know-how at the service of your customers.
And don’t forget to put a Call To Action with your contact details to invite your prospects to get in touch with you.
2. Find the right people
Social Selling is particularly interesting during the commercial prospecting phase, because it allows you to act much more efficiently and immediately target the most interesting profiles for your sector of activity. These profiles logically correspond to your personas, i.e. your ideal customers.
To make this selection, simply go to LinkedIn and carry out a search by specifying the criteria that interest you (position, function, location, sector of activity, etc.). Once you have identified the potential prospects that interest you, ask them in connection.
Quality or quantity for your professional network on LinkedIn? Well, ideally, both my captain! There is no point in having a very large network with people who do not interest you professionally. On the other hand, it is particularly interesting to have a very large network with all of your commercial targets as relations!
For what ? First of all because by being in relationship 1 with your prospects, you will have free access to their contact details. As such, know that about 30% of people enter their professional email on LinkedIn (the remaining 70% are personal emails), and 40% indicate their telephone number.
Thus, you can export to Excel for free, with the contact details of all your contacts. To do this, go to the “Network” tab of LinkedIn, then “Contacts”, then click on “Export contacts”. Then select the option of your choice in the “Get a copy of your data” tab.
By having a maximum of your targets in relation, you will also be able to send them free Inmails for your commercial prospecting. Moreover, this approach will give you more visibility: you will make your communications visible to a large number of your targets.
3. Exchange and share quality information
Now that you know how to approach the contacts you are interested in, we will explain how to bring even more relevant contacts to you, without you sending them a single message.
Being present on social networks is good, but sharing quality content there is even better .
By regularly sharing (one to several times a week) on your profile content relevant to your sector of activity, you will arouse the interest of your contact base. Indeed, if you have selected her carefully, she will be interested in the issues you are dealing with, because she is confronted with them.
So, for example, feel free to share your blog posts on your LinkedIn profile. Contacts interested in this subject will see that you have mastered it perfectly, that you are an expert on the subject and will therefore have confidence in you.
Therefore, when they feel the desire or the need to make a purchase, they will naturally contact you, because you have already proven yourself by sharing your expertise. And word of mouth can be more powerful than you imagine : your professionalism can therefore go beyond your simple circle of contacts.
Regular interaction with your contacts is really crucial in a social selling approach. Whether through comments, private messages or content shared on your profile, you highlight your professionalism and skills. Also, the more active you are, the more you will be remembered when needed .
4. Build Relationships
This is the last step to complete your social selling strategy. The main mission of salespeople is to “hunt” new targets to convert into customers. On the other hand, they are not necessarily qualified to create the appropriate content according to the target person and their buying cycle. It is rather the role of marketing. It is therefore very important to have the two poles work together in order to carry out the most effective strategy possible . In particular, you can integrate the leads collected into the company’s CRM database. This allows the two teams to follow the progress of each of them in the purchasing process to adapt the new types of content that will be offered to them.
You are now aware of the main good practices of B2B social selling, whether it is to attract new prospects, contact them in the most effective way, and convert them into leads and then into customers. The benefits you can expect to reap are great, so why deprive yourself?
LinkedIn claims that the higher the user’s score, the more successful the person or company is in achieving their sales goals. For example, they say highly active LinkedIn users get 45% more leads, 51% are more likely to hit their sales quotas, and 78% sell more than those who don’t use social media.
Although your LinkedIn SSI score is not a guarantee of increased sales, it turns out that the link between your requests to connect with your target and an increase in sales opportunities is strong.
That said, you still have to find and use the tools that will help you grow your sales and/or business while keeping track of which activities are actually delivering results.
How to measure the performance of your Social Selling? KPIs to follow
After having all the keys in hand, it is important to know if these actions have a direct impact on your activity, whether it is the sales of services or the sale of products that result from them.
The direct engagement of Internet users : after a post, if the latter receives likes, comments, or shares from Internet users, this implies that the content is relevant because it generates reactions. The subscription to the newsletter, the increase in followers is a very good indicator as well.
The reach of the message : we can base ourselves on indicators such as audience gain from social networks to our website. The objective is obviously to have a maximum reach for a high click rate.
Depending on the activities and companies, a conversion can result in different things such as:
- Traffic on specific product/service pages
- Increase in followers, LinkedIn connections
- Number of downloads of a white paper
- Number of contacts, likes, comments, etc.
- Number of discovery calls following social selling
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Prioritizing quantity over quality:
Keep in mind that redundant content with little interest may repel customers, leading to unsubscribes or negative impressions of the company.
- Lacking regularity:
While it’s essential to find a balance in content quantity, posting regularly is crucial. Maintain a dynamic presence to avoid being overshadowed by more active competitors.
- Not communicating outside your profile:
Avoid being self-centered. Foster connections and exchanges by interacting, commenting, liking, and expressing interest in others. LinkedIn’s algorithm encourages user interactions.
- Neglecting other sales and digital marketing techniques:
Social selling should complement other inbound marketing strategies.
In Conclusion: Social Selling is a Customer-Centric Approach
Social selling, as the first point of contact on social networks, often sparks prospects’ interest through quality content. Its primary goal is to initiate a commercial discussion on a specific issue, requiring a strong focus on the customer at the center of the process.
For optimal results, practice social selling daily, and you’ll likely notice improved performance. A successful social selling strategy breaks down barriers between marketing, sales, and communication. To excel in social selling, be sure to blend all these skills effectively.