TL;DR: You can’t afford NOT to have a social selling strategy in 2018. By aligning sales and marketing priorities, emphasizing social listening, engaging with client content, and offering solution-oriented social posts and messages, you’ll set your organization up for higher client retention, more new business and long-term success.
You should know that here at Sparkloft, we believe everything is social. In B2B sales, building long-term, trusting relationships has always been important. Incorporating a social media strategy in your selling process is not only a great idea, but imperative in the world of 2018.
Research shows that B2B prospects are making it further and further down the funnel before reaching out to sales, meaning that sales teams can miss out on key opportunities to influence prospects during that crucial research phase. Social selling reintroduces sales into those early conversations when and where they are taking place.
The term “social selling” can be a bit misleading because there are no actual sales taking place on social. Rather, it is a long-term strategy that should begin with a strong organizational framework and result in new, ongoing sales habits and behaviors, all with the end goal of building stronger and more communicative relationships with clients.
Not sure where to start? We recommend the following four phases to jumpstart your social selling efforts.
Build a strong organizational framework that supports social selling: Before we ask sales professionals to jump in, we want to make sure they are set up for success. While sales and marketing teams have long shared objectives, they often don’t have clear, ongoing communication and feedback loops. Begin by bringing sales and marketing teams together (and establish a regular check-in cadence) for better collaboration and knowledge sharing. Identify your target accounts and discuss how each department can reach them: marketing through paid media and sales through social selling best practices.
Listen to your clients: In any good conversation, listening is just as important as speaking. Social is a great way to learn more about what clients are passionate about — information you can use later to start a conversation. Using a tool such as LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, sales can begin to stay up-to-date on industry news, job changes, and, most importantly, what clients are sharing on social.
Engage with this content: Particularly for those prospects we don’t know well (or perhaps, don’t know at all), engaging with social content can be an easy way for sales to get names, faces and brands in front of clients. Over time, those likes, comments and retweets add up and establish a friendly, thoughtful rapport that can open the door to a deeper, “real life” conversation.
Solve your clients’ problems. At Sparkloft, we talk a lot about the values of influencer marketing due to the authenticity and deep engagement it offers a brand. Sales professionals, by becoming active social users — particularly on LinkedIn — can similarly become authentic brand ambassadors, building loyalty and trust among prospects as thought leaders and problem solvers. Sales should use the insights gained through social listening to share relevant content and craft solution-oriented LinkedIn InMail messages designed specifically to aid clients with overcoming pain points.
When done right, social selling can dramatically improve the sales process. For long-term success, organizations should identify passionate individuals to lead the charge and incentivize sales to build social selling habits into daily life. At the end of the day, social selling brings a little more of that human — or dare we say social? — element back into the sales process, making relationships stronger, renewals easier and sales teams happier.
Learn more about how to kickoff your LinkedIn strategy with some advertising tips for brands.