With more than 67% of internet users worldwide using social networks, according to a LinkedIn study, the era of social selling is here and is rapidly becoming a buzzword in the selling world.
In fact, 90% of top performing sales people now use social media as a part of their sales strategy. Also, modern consumers have become even more informed and engaged in terms of their decision-making process, vis-à-vis their yesteryear counterparts. Undoubtedly, around 60-90% of the B2B buyer’s research is done even before the first contact is made with the seller. This clearly signifies that in order to effectively reach them, organisations need to choose right platforms where their customers are present, and analyse and comprehend what information must be shared in order to engage and address their pain points effectively. A study conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) finds that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level executives use social media to make purchase decisions. Therefore, embracing social selling helps sales teams to garner certain benefits such as:
Large network of leads
By 2019, it is estimated that there will be approximately 2.77 billion social media users around the globe, as compared to the 2.46 billion in 2017, according to a report from Statista. As a matter of fact, to reach out to any marketing/sales contact persons on the planet it will be far more optimal and easier through the digital medium instead of traditional methods. As per a recent survey, one in every three B2B professionals agrees that social selling tools increased their number of leads.
Long lasting relationships
Using social tools to listen to conversations relevant to one’s industry — also known as social listening — gives sales team a chance to reach out to prospects with useful information at the right time through the right channel. With prospects sharing information socially about their needs, wants and pain points on their public profiles, organisations’ first point of contact can be personalised, relevant and meaningful. This leads to more eloquent prospects and customer engagement, with 31% of B2B professionals agreeing that social selling tools allowed them to build deeper relationships with clients, according to eMarketer.
The LinkedIn study states that 71% of all the sales professionals and 90% of the top salespeople are already using social selling tools. Among the younger sales force, numbers are even more advanced with 78% of all millennial sales professionals using social selling tools and 63% agreeing that those tools are extremely critical to their sales performance. Considering this, in order to surpass the competition, it is becoming extremely important for every organisation to adopt this new trend wave.
For good decision making, organisations are dependent on reliable data. With social media generating heaps of relevant data every day, it has become a fact that organisations which support social selling techniques can reach 83% accuracy in current sales forecasts, as compared to 44% accuracy for those that don’t.
Indeed, the cost to acquire a new customer is far more than the cost to retain an existing one. By building a strong network through various social media channels, one can seek introductions to new sales prospects, through existing mutual connections, and create an immediate sense of trust and rapport in a non-invasive way. Therefore, cost is immensely minimised in terms of new customer acquisition.
Incorporating an effective social selling strategy
Over 66% of marketers, according to the Social Media Examiner study, appreciate enhanced lead generation benefits accrued with social media. A properly implemented social media strategy can enhance search rankings, get more website traffic and increase conversion rates. For ensuring this, the choice of platform based on one’s target group plays a crucial role. Every social media platform — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc — has the highest concentration of one’s key demographics, who use these platforms for different purposes. By examining the purpose and unique attributes associated with each of them, one will find that although they are all ‘social’, they have diverse strengths and selling points that have to be analysed and leveraged accordingly.
However, there exist a couple of common best practices that can be incorporated on each of these platforms to achieve the desired results.
These include trigger-based selling (optimising social media profiles on every possible channel and notifying various trigger events at the right time to gain maximum visibility of the target group); insights-based selling (analysing what the TG is interested in, so as to reach out to them with the targeted content); and referral-based selling (providing valuable information can establish one as an expert in their respective field, helping in acquiring new customers who are referred to by existing customers).
As per a Forrester report, enterprises see social media as the most fertile place where customers can be reached — and therefore, perceive it as a dominant sales channel of the future. A significant portion of the industrial landscape, buyers and sellers combined, now understand that social selling will soon become the ‘default way’ to engage with buyers in the future.
Snehashish Bhattacharjee is global CEO and co-founder, Denave