Hubspot, in the release of their 2016 State of Inbound report, revealed some eye-opening data in regards to social selling: They found that 42% of buyers were actively networking and engaging via social media with companies and individuals they want to do business with. LinkedIn and Twitter in particular have emerged as leading platforms that drive that growing trend.
Now, the term “social selling” has been thrown around loosely over the past few years, and it takes on a different meaning depending on who you talk to. Advocates will claim that social selling is replacing more traditional methods of selling, whereas sceptics dismiss it as a fluke and distraction, nowhere near as important as face to face meetings or calls.
What is certain, at the very least, social selling has become a tool in the arsenal of sales professionals in that it allows them to research, connect, and interact with prospects and customers in ways that were previously impossible.
A Technology-Driven Market
The transformation and modernization of sales today is evidenced by buyers who are more technologically inclined and more autonomous in their research and decision-making process. What that means for sales professionals is that a first interaction with buyers often occurs on social media and networking platforms.
Social selling is all about how you use social networks to make that initial connection and stay connected longer-term. In the most basic terms, it means to get to know your prospect and to get on their radar through activities such as liking, commenting, or sharing posts.
Who You Are
The need to appear as attractive to buyers online today is just as important as how you appear in real life. One way to look at this is akin to reverse engineering, starting at the end and working backwards. That simply means putting your buyer's shoes on, and seeing how your online presence appears from where they stand.
Does your online presence answer questions they have? Does it relate to who they are or their business? Does it present a value for them?
We live in a world where people can get to know each other from thousands of miles away. If you want to connect and use social media in the most effective ways then you need to utilize all tools at your disposal. Keep your profiles and online presence updated. Post pictures of you now, not from twenty years ago, and provide a brief description of who you are and what you do.
The Key to a Successful Social Selling Strategy
The world of social selling is a show and tell one, and people want to hear you, see you and know you. One of the most effective ways to build a successful social sales strategy is through content. LinkedIn Groups provide a forum for contributing informative, non-promotional content and also allow you to participate in discussions in which you can share your expertise and savviness.
Twitter requires a bit more finesse and patience to gain traction and establish a sense of credibility with your target audience. Because of Twitter’s “in the moment” and interactive appeal, it’s important to constantly monitor your prospect’s accounts (thankfully there are numerous apps that will help you do that) in order to jump in at the right moment and engage with prospects through retweeting and favoriting, as well as by replying to tweets.
Social Selling Spells Success
Social selling is certainly growing in importance, and the numbers spell it out quite clearly as shown by a 2016 LinkedIn survey:
- 90% of the top sales professionals use social media selling.
- Millennial's are 33% more likely to employ social selling tools.
- Social Selling is the most widely used sales technology.
- Salespeople are more likely (51% more) to hit sales quotas using social selling.
These are a few statistics among a long list of numbers that all end up at the same conclusion, that social selling works and continues to gain ground as a vital sales tool. Social selling will get you "out there," and it will create a network of relationships that will result in mutual benefits for you and your customers. Now get to it!