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What is social selling and why is it important?

Almost four and a half billion of us use social media, that’s over half the world’s population. This fact alone illustrates just how powerful a tool it can be when wielded properly. The popularity of social media may not come as a big surprise, but did you know that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level executives use social media to support their purchase decisions? Plus, B2B buyers that are most active in using social media to support their purchasing decisions had 84% bigger budgets, made 61% more purchase decisions, and had more influence over a greater span of purchase decisions than buyers who do not use social media when buying products (IDC / Businesswire). With that in mind, social media has proven to be invaluable not only for reaching potential customers, but building meaningful relationships with them. So, today we’re looking at what is social selling, and why is it so important for B2B sales success?

What is social selling?

In a nutshell, social selling is using social media to find, connect, understand, and nurture sales leads. So, why is social selling critical to your sales strategy? 

People that use social selling effectively have 45% more sales opportunities, are 51% more likely to hit their quota, and a 78% chance of outselling peers who don’t use social media. (LinkedIn)

Your business’ presence in these virtual spaces grants 24/7 access to both customers and prospects. This allows you to reach them both inside and out of the traditional 9-5. On the contrary, it means they can also reach you whenever they need to. In fact, a report by LinkedIn revealed sales reps who responded quickly to social media inquiries saw a 9.5% increase in annual revenue. Furthermore, raising your online profile will also help to increase credibility, with 75% of buyers using social media to find information on vendors (IDC). By harnessing social media, you can identify your target audience’s desires, as well as what resonates with them. As a result, you can position yourself as a thought leader, and share engaging content that solves their problems and demonstrates your value to them.

Think about it: 

  • From the perspective of your ideal prospect, what would they need to see from you on social media to want to engage with you?
  • What social selling approaches wouldn’t work for them?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time to change your approach.

Selling on social media

The rise of influencer marketing is a great example of how people use social media to help them make buying decisions. And just because your salespeople aren’t showing off the latest in skincare doesn’t mean they don’t hold sway in this space. When it comes to B2B sales, on average, clients are already over two thirds of the way through their decision-making process when they decide to connect with a salesperson. Not only does this highlight the importance of your salespeople being present on platforms like LinkedIn, but also the quality of that presence. According to LinkedIn, social selling can increase win rates by 5% and deal size by 35%. This interaction could quite literally make or break a sale. So, what can you do to increase the chance of success?

Social selling strategy

Social media has long been criticised for only showing the “best bits”, and has therefore raised a rather suspicious generation of users. Your clients are sensitive to being duped online, which is why building trust is a must. 

💡 The best way to achieve this? Thought leadership. 💡

Over 80% of decision makers say this increases their trust, with over 50% of those saying it has led them to choose one provider over another. So, your salespeople need to make it as easy as possible for your clients to see them, trust them, and ultimately choose them.

But with all these potential customers at your fingertips, it’s vital that your efforts in this space prioritise quality over quantity. We’ve talked before about the four levers you can pull to increase sales velocity, starting with increasing the number of opportunities. The most effective social selling strategy stems from knowing your audience. Past client analysis will help you to identify the conditions that trigger a need for your product. Your salespeople can then leverage their positions as thought leaders to target appropriate prospects with appropriate solutions. By providing something that adds genuine value, through your social selling approach, helping prospects see your sales team as a credible and trustworthy source and potential partners. In turn, they’ll be able to generate quality leads that are more likely to end in conversion. 

The results you will see from social selling will improve as your reach grows. That means it’s vital to continually grow your network. As we mentioned before, to be successful, this needs to be about both quantity and quality. Top sellers use LinkedIn six hours per week to research prospects, connect with peers, interact with industry-related groups, and publish helpful and insightful content (Jill Konrath). Having a strong presence in this space and making social selling part of your overarching sales strategy is essential.

The right training

Now you have an understanding of why social selling is important, it’s time for some reflection. Is your sales approach and sales training as dynamic as buyer behaviour? If the answer is no, your people are not prepared for maximum impact. So, how do you ensure they’re fully equipped for success, both now and in the future? With the right type of sales training, you can change mindsets, create real behavioural change and improve your sales performance. At Flume, our programmes are designed to instil long-term behaviours that last, leading to a swift, sustained and measurable difference to KPIs and revenue. It’s sales training that works – for every customer-facing rep within your organisation!

Can you afford to miss out on the opportunities social selling has to offer? With effective training and a strong strategy, you can ensure your business is the first a prospect thinks of when they’re ready to buy. Come back next week to find out more about raising your LinkedIn profile.

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