Conditioned by their experiences as consumers in receiving personalized and seamless experiences from brands, today’s B2B buyers expect sellers to provide a similar experience throughout the buying cycle. Sellers must understand the entire customer path and develop experiences that place customers at the center. As buyers wait longer to engage sellers and as adoption of digital platforms evolves, many 1:1 conversations take place outside of traditional channels like email, leading to the rise of social selling.
Social selling is the process of researching, connecting and interacting with prospects and customers on social media channels like LinkedIn or Twitter. CSO Insights found that companies with social selling adoption rates between 76% and 90% have 61.5% higher win rates than those with lower adoption rates.
This is just one reason why the modern seller needs to understand how buyer behaviors have changed and must adapt their approach to engage buyers where they want to be engaged. In this digital-first world, forging relationships with buyers online has become an important ingredient for both connecting and providing value during the sales process.
Social selling allows sellers to leverage their networks to engage prospects and build relationships to achieve their sales goals. Organizations should implement a social selling strategy to establish credibility and earn the right to connect with buyers.
Social selling is not “selling” or a digital version of cold calling. It’s the process of leveraging social networks to find, engage and connect with prospects to start conversations, build relationships and establish a personal brand to develop credibility.
LinkedIn is widely recognized as the best-suited network for sellers in the B2B space as 62% of decision-makers visit a seller’s LinkedIn profile to determine whether that seller has the credentials to deliver solutions that solve their pain points. Here are three key elements for implementing social selling techniques with your team.
1. Start with Your LinkedIn Profile
Facebook and Twitter can also be used for social selling, but for reasons we outlined earlier, sellers often find the most success with LinkedIn. B2B buyers are selective about vendors they engage with, and so your LinkedIn profile should be complete and used as an extension to your professional brand. LinkedIn is often viewed as a recruitment tool, but it’s much more than that. It’s a personal selling platform that allows professionals to connect with decision makers. Having a compelling professional profile is critical to social selling success on LinkedIn. Sellers should use a professional headshot and keep their ideal customer in mind when filling in information.
For an effective profile that establishes credibility, sellers must address how their solutions solve the buyer’s pain points. Every sellers’ profile should answer three questions:
- What problem do you solve?
- How do you solve it?
- How have you helped your customers in the past?
More importantly, as your team adopts social selling techniques such as sharing content and connecting with prospects, your sellers will receive more visits to their profiles. Seventy-seven percent of decision-makers want to buy from people who demonstrate an understanding of their business problems and expertise in solving them. If sellers’ profiles lack clearly defined expertise that addresses the buyer’s pain points, they lose an opportunity to engage in a sales conversation with a prospect.
2. Engage Your Prospects
Social selling isn’t about engaging with as many people as possible. Instead it’s about strategically targeting prospects that sellers seek to engage at an organization. Buyers are inundated with unsolicited sales emails and connection requests. Messaging to them must be clear, concise and of value.
As a result, your rep’s strategy to engage the buyer should not be limited to performing a search and sending a connection request without any context or engagement. The last thing your rep’s prospects want is another connection that immediately starts selling them. Sellers should look for opportunities to establish credibility in a prospect’s industry or area of responsibility, then make the connection request.
3. Connect with Your Buyers
One technique to effectively engage with prospects is what’s called social surrounding, where sellers connect with their prospects’ peers, direct reports and even those above them on the org chart. At this stage, sellers can provide value to the prospect’s sphere of influence while learning about their priorities. Once sellers acquire enough insights, they can leverage these connections for an introduction to the buying influence of their choice. Building rapport with a prospect via connections is an important step in setting up an initial conversation.
This long-term strategy requires patience and planning, but leads to more valuable conversations with the right people at the account because the prospect is more likely to accept a meeting with a seller if someone they trust introduces them. As a result, you should consistently ask your sellers to articulate their long-term strategy for engaging with contacts around their prospect.
To connect with buyers, sellers can establish credibility by sharing relevant content on LinkedIn such as videos, blogs and downloadable reports. This allows sellers to develop their personal brand and establish themselves as experts in the space.
An effective way to engage prospects through content is by monitoring company news and sharing examples of customers that your company has served in similar situations. For instance, a seller could use a prospect’s recent acquisition as a starting point by sending a message such as, “I read about the recent acquisition. Some of my clients in the same situation struggled with integrating technology. This case study shows how we helped them resolve this challenge.” Taking this approach shows expertise, personalization and experience with similar situations, differentiating your sellers from their competition.
Drive Social Selling Success
Sales is about building relationships, establishing rapport and credibility, and providing the right solution to the right prospect at the right moments. Social selling is always evolving and is another tool that allows sales professionals to expand on existing relationships, build new ones and provide value. Are your sellers engaging with buyers early in the sales process? Discover how the Strategic Selling with Perspective teaches a proven roadmap for winning more deals.