Social selling is a major part of how B2B enterprises flourish online.
Microsoft’s decision to buy LinkedIn back in 2016 was probably mostly about the revenue the company could gain by facilitating recruitment activities on the platform. Even so, its evolution since then has created one of the most important social selling platforms in the world.
Social selling happens in other places, especially Facebook and LinkedIn. But when it comes to B2B decision makers who are focused on success and hungry to make informed decisions, a huge portion of the action goes down on LinkedIn – and that’s where most brands should start.
Luckily, once you know the basic principles of social selling, you’ll be primed and ready to go on virtually any platform. Social selling gives you a unique opportunity to connect with people, foster trust, and build relationships that can flourish very quickly.
That’s a huge advantage, especially with the long sales cycles of the B2B world.
Here’s how you can get off to a running start in social selling:
1. Get Clarity on Your Audience and Targeting
You already know who your audience is based on the stellar buyer personas used by your sales and marketing teams – right? Now you have to bring those down to earth by connecting them with the kind of targeting social media offers you.
This is another advantage of LinkedIn: You’ll be able to design a targeting strategy combining both firmographics (industry, company size) with individual characteristics (job title, tenure). That cuts down the time you spend on qualifying leads.
Check out the search features and analytics of any platform where you plan to try social selling. If you can’t figure out a solution that surfaces your ideal audience, it may be a poor fit for you.
2. Run Your Search and Get Your Leads
Search varies considerably according to platform. For example:
- On Twitter, you’ll mostly be searching according to recent tweet contents and hashtags.
- On LinkedIn, you’ll run more complex searches and can also find leads within Groups.
- Facebook limits organic reach, so prospecting is often focused around active Pages.
Each platform will call on you to learn its interface and adapt your strategy appropriately. Still, you should be able to round up at least a handful of leads with potential you feel confident in.
3. Do Warm Prospecting Research
Social selling is warm selling. It’s impossible to sell on social media without relationships.
Luckily, there’s a clear way to do this.
The secret to social selling lies in warm prospecting. Using some basic methods, you can put the value you offer in perspective so even cautious B2B decision makers want to work with you.
The heart of the warm prospecting method lies in finding trigger events. A trigger event is a recent change in a prospect’s business situation that makes your offerings more valuable.
A trigger event might be:
- Launching a new product or service.
- Establishing an office in a new territory.
- Acquisition of a new company or product.
- Taking on new clients after a rival closes.
Anything that changes the competitive landscape is a potential trigger event. Sift through your leads’ social media postings as well as the company website and the latest news. When you find an event, all you have to do is figure out the best way to bridge their needs and your offer.
4. Make Your Introduction With Clear Value
Everyone who does social selling has their own favorite approach to the introduction.
Some like to ask “if it makes sense” to talk further. Others like to cut straight to the chase.
Whatever you decide, remember this. Even though you can approach social selling by reaching out to others individually, it still operates on inbound principles. You want to come with value. That usually means having some sharp web content in your quiver to share with your contact.
Content opens the door because it demonstrates your expertise. With compelling content and a persistent, yet upbeat follow-up, you can position yourself as a trusted advisor.
5. Extend Your Content Strategy onto Social Media
Even if you’re strictly a sales pro, it’s important to make your voice heard on social media. This is where the inbound aspects of social selling really shine. Most of your social leads will be following you, and your consistent updates on their feed can shape their thinking.
Hopefully, your company offers you a platform where you can write a little content of your own. Even if you don’t consider yourself Hemingway, it’s still good to have your authentic voice reflected in the content you share. Otherwise, draw on your existing library of marketing content.
No matter what industry you’re in, these five steps are your path to success. The sooner you dive in, the sooner you’ll have provable ROI from social sales.