Social selling is here to stay and cold calls, as we know it, is dead. We now have the ability to implement inbound marketing techniques that respond to key decision makers' pain points by creating content that nurtures them while they research to make a purchase. Here's some data from LinkedIn according to their latest social selling index (SSI) report of the benefits of social selling on LinkedIn.
- Social selling on LinkedIn has led to 45% more sales opportunities
- B2B sales professionals are 51% more likely to hit quota
- Sales departments were 80% more productive using LinkedIn for sales
According to LinkedIn, B2B buyer decision makers read on average five pieces of content while doing research before even talking to a sales rep. Now imagine nurturing a relationship well in advance that earned decision makers' trust through the information gathering process and also allowed you to generate 40% more qualified leads than cold calling.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is simply building relationships online by identifying websites where your ideal customers are, listening to their problems, and developing answers that allow you to join the conversation not by interrupting, but by responding at a pivotal time where you can provide value. (sighs...)
Here are some of the few benefits of social selling:
- Identify customers quicker
- Analyze customers based on location, industry, and seniority
- Share content based on problems (no interrupting)
- Use social media optimization to increase sales even more
- Shorten your sales cycle
Why Traditional Sales Don't Work Anymore
To fully appreciate social selling, let's look at traditional marketing and sales strategies, which are now becoming more and more obsolete, thanks to inbound marketing efforts that use analytics allowing for profit gains and losses to be easily seen.
Content is getting more fierce online because of low barriers. As you can see, it's being distributed through blogs and other online media outlets at an astounding rate.
Traditional sales used interruption techniques, such as broadcasting your company's commercials through TV, print, and radio channels to get your message in front of as many people as possible. Some companies even made direct sales going door-to-door. Talk about a terrible sales cycle!
The metrics to measure your return on investment were very fuzzy and were often based on rough estimates with some broad data to justify spending. Back then, the most successful salesman succeeded through his sheer ability to churn through the numbers.
The problem with these methods is you don't have a way to measure the success of each marketing and sales activity to determine what works. With inbound marketing and social selling, you can measure all of your activities and determine where each successful sale comes from without conducting surveys by using tools like Google Analytics.
The Social Selling Algorithm
Ready to close more deals and learn how to become more efficient making sales? Well, here are the five steps to the social selling algorithm that I created based on my experience building relationships with venture capitalists, startup founders, and influential bloggers.
Grab a sheet of paper and take the time to go through these five steps carefully. On average, you can expect your sales to increase by 20% if you apply these five steps and create some new habits.
1. Create a Vision
What do you want to gain from social selling within the next six months? By figuring out what you want you will be able to cut out the noise and focus on what's most important.
Personally, I aim to connect with successful startup founders because my ideal clients are funded B2B startups looking for help developing their inbound marketing strategy and managing HubSpot marketing automation software for social selling and inbound marketing.
2. Create Your Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing clients.
Ask yourself what your ideal customer looks like. Consider your buyer persona pain points, his or her buying process, and his or her goals. Take 30 minutes and create your buyer persona for free using HubSpot.
3. Optimize Your Social Media Profile
Optimizing your social media profile will ensure that this will show up when customers search for you online. For your images, follow the recommended image dimensions specified by the social network. Check this guide from Social Media Examiner.
Fill out the profile fields completely and more importantly, include your keywords in your profile descriptions and titles. Add links to your website and your other social media pages.
Take a look at how bestselling author and digital marketing expert Jay Baer optimized his Twitter profile:
When posting, find the best times to post your content. Refer to this helpful infographic on best times to post on Quicksprout.
4. Curate Content
Share content that's useful and engaging through your social networks to provide value. One thing I focus on when curating content is being intentional. Share the content of people who you want to build a relationship with, but who will also actually reciprocate the favor and speak to you.
By taking curating content to the next level, make sure to tag the author of the content instead of the company.
In the example below, I tweeted a blog post by Aaron Agius because he's writing for Entrepreneur.com and the article talked about creating buyer personas, which would provide helpful information for my readers. However, I also want to establish a relationship with this blogger in hopes that he will one day contribute to my blog.
5. Take Your Conversations Offline
The more online your brand, the more digital your product, the more offline you should think, says Fabian Geyrhalter, co-author of the bestseller "How to Launch a Brand," columnist for Inc. and founder and principal of FINIEN, a consultancy specialized in turning ventures into brands.
Geyrhalter says traditional marketing methods can be seen as a novelty today, and if done right, these can be employed to convey a strong brand message.
At the end of the day, it is still all about engaging with your audience and building relationships, and there are times when you need to talk to your customers in person or over the phone to communicate what your emails can't say. You will stand out more for taking the time to connect with them truly.
How to Find Quality Leads on Social Media
Even with an understanding of what social selling is, you must understand how to do prospecting and nurturing relationships.
I focus on B2B social selling and highly recommend using advance search on Twitter & LinkedIn. With this strategy, it is important to use your buyer persona to focus on building relationships with the main decision makers. Also, before launching any marketing strategy on social media, remember always to plan ahead.