The idea of engaging a lead over traditional channels like email and phone is quickly going stale as most salespeople have crowded towards them. Apart from this – working professionals, who make up for B2B buyers and users, tend to spend less time on these channels.
This drives down the conversions on these channels, and makes it difficult for lead generation and sales functions to keep up. Which is where social selling comes in.
Social selling isn’t a completely new concept in B2B sales – it’s been around since social platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter existed. With the rise in Software tools and API access to these networks, it’s easier today to leverage these social selling automation tools to build social selling into your B2B sales process.
Throughout this blog, we’ll learn all about it – how to make social selling part of your process, along with bonus tips.
Social selling is the process of finding, qualifying and engaging your potential customers and leads on social networks, instead of traditional channels. Conventional methods for finding customers over physical channels like conventions, trade shows, networking events, or inbound channels like websites pale in comparison. Almost every B2B buyer has a social media presence on networks like Twitter and LinkedIn, which makes it a great place to find and connect with leads.
In fact, a lot of inside sales teams today partly rely on LinkedIn social selling to enrich their lead data. This in turn helps them engage leads more effectively. By doubling down on these networks, you can engage leads better and convert more of them. All by focusing on one social channel of your choice.
In addition, salespeople who’re active on social channels are much more likely to attract quality leads, and appear more trustworthy. And this enables 78% of them to outsell their peers(as per Linkedin), which is quite a wide margin.
Suffice to say – if you’re running an inside sales process in 2022, leveraging social media is no longer a “nice to have”. It’s an absolute must have if you’re serious about your sales engagement and conversion outcomes.
So let’s explore how to sell B2B products and services through social platforms.
Build an audience and credibility
When you approach leads and prospective customers on social networks – they’ll always first look into your profile before they decide to respond back. They’ll look for a few signals on your profile to ascertain whether you’re credible. And this comes down to your activity and your followers. A profile with 4000 followers is far more credible than one with 60. Same can be said for activity on social platforms. If you’ve consistently posted over a period of time, with engagement levels proportional to your following, it strengthens your chances of getting a response from your prospects.
Whether you’re reaching out to your prospects as part of your outbound process, or entertaining inbound messages from your followers – having a sizable audience is crucial. A bigger audience is social proof for your credibility, and offers a huge improvement in response and engagement rates. Build an audience on your social profiles by regularly posting content, and engaging with other influencers. Distribute and share your content across different social channels, so it reaches more people.
Join and participate in groups
Professionals tend to spend the majority of their time on social media platforms hanging out in groups. Groups house communities within platforms like Facebook and Linkedin that help users focus and engage on specific topics and problems. These groups could be great places to find your ideal customers, depending on the members’ interests and topics being discussed. As discussions within these groups are focused on solving problems, it makes for a great channel to present your product. And when you do, it’s much more likely to generate interest.
Join such groups early on. Most of these groups would be private, and only would accept legitimate members with genuine intent. Being an active participant would help you build up rapport within the group. This includes its members, and by engaging with their posts over a period of time. And when the opportunity presents itself, you can finally pitch your product – without looking like a pest.
Start connecting with prospects early
The idea behind following or getting followed by potential prospects, or participating in groups, is to get “soft introductions” to your prospects. Which means you might have come across your prospects, or bump into them. Your next step then has to be to build that connection into a relationship. In social selling, this is done through informal conversations and chats involving your prospects, their businesses and problems.
As you come across new members who’re engaging with you or others posts of relevance, look them up, and engage back. Get talking to them – find ways to help them out as someone who’s got more experience/exposure to the market. There eventually will be an instance where their query/question will bring you an opportunity to talk about your product.
Nurture your followers
While you might get some inbound leads from your social activity – bulk of your followers won’t make the first move. Does this mean they aren’t valuable, and won’t ever convert? No. As most users on social media platforms, most of your followers are likely to be “lurkers”. Which means they’re likely to be sticking around and only consuming content, not responding and as such. The only way to engage with such users is to consistently post content they expect to see from you – so they’re likely to share and engage. While they themselves might not make for a great prospect – their engagement effectively extends your(and your content’s) reach to their followers.
Post content on your social profiles on a regular basis. Not only will it help you increase your following – but it’ll also keep your existing followers active and engaged. Over time, as your audience grows, you’ll start finding more of your followers sharing your content online and offline, which indirectly helps you generate more opportunities in your pipeline.
Engage with your audience
Once you have an audience that interacts with your content on social platforms – one way to convert them into leads is to engage back to them. In conventional sales nurturing processes which happen over channels like email – it’s often difficult to get a hold of your lead/prospect’s attention. On social platforms, you already have won your followers’ trust and attention, which makes it much easier for you to divert it towards your product or service. This makes for a great outlet to engage with your audience, which gives you a window towards converting them into a lead, or a prospect.
Reply to comments on your social media posts, and upvote or like their content. This incentivizes them to engage with your content more often and helps you develop rapport with such followers over time. You will also be able to gain more followers on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook if you’re more attentive and engaging yourself. And more followers mean a better reputation and wider audience reach. Also, the more followers you have, the more likely you are to have loyal supporters who will engage with you. Well engaged followers make for great leads – given you’ve already nurtured them through your content, making them more likely to convert.
Reach out via DMs
Up until this point, we’ve talked about engaging with your followers and other users on social platforms who might look up to you as an influencer. But what do you do when your prospect is a much more influential figure? They’re not as likely to follow or engage with your content as much – because they probably consume tons of other content just like it. This is especially true if you’re selling to enterprise customers with higher ticket prices. In such cases, don’t hesitate to reach out to them on their messages or Direct Messages(DMs).
Check if your prospect has open DMs – for platforms like twitter, DMs are public by default, but can be kept private by the user. If that happens to be the case, find a way to message them over other social platforms. For example, Linkedin allows you to message users outside your network using Linkedin premium plans. When you reach out – keep the topic of discussion around something you could help your prospect with – i.e. it helps them in a way without them having to commit to anything. This opens doors towards more conversations where your product or service could be potentially brought in.
Convert them into email leads
Social platforms are a great place to generate leads and strike conversations . Though it isn’t necessarily a great place to close. Professionals on social networks rarely want to be sold to. Sales communications over social media platforms can be huge turn offs. This is where you should plan to convert them into email leads, where you can continue the conversation more formally.
Once you get comfortable with your prospects on social media talking about your product and possibility of them procuring it, you should find ways to shift that conversation over to your email. Look for opportunities where you could suggest email would be the better option to continue the conversation, and ask for their email address. Reach out immediately when you’re given the email address, so they can engage back in the same session, reducing the chances of drop offs.
And once you have a bunch of these leads, you can enroll them in nurturing sequences and automated follow-ups using sales engagement tools. This makes it easier to track and maintain a list of active leads and prospects, and convert them based on their engagement and intent to buy.
These are pretty much all the things you need to get started engaging and converting your prospects using social selling strategies.
But there are a few more tricks you can use to further improve your social selling process. Let’s explore these social selling tips below.
Social selling tips and tricks
Set up notifications for relevant profiles
When you come across your prospects online on social media platforms, you really want to keep up with their updates. Checking in regularly, using manual ways isn’t the most effective way to do it – which is why you should set up notifications. Almost every social media platform offers you the functionality of notifying you every time a certain person posts. On twitter, for example, you can do this by visiting a prospect’s profile, and clicking on the bell logo.
This allows you to engage with your prospect as soon as they post, without having to check in manually, miss important posts.
Use advanced search features
Ofcourse, it’s not always practical to wait for your prospects to approach you. When you’re actively looking for potential prospects, search features on social media platforms can be of great help. Based on your qualification criteria, you can input keywords and filters into these search pages. This narrows down your results to relevant users on the platform. On LinkedIn for example, you can simply head over to the search page. On the “All Filters” tab, you can access advanced search and filtering.
One narrowed down to a smaller set of users, you can then visit each profile, research them deeper, and connect or reach out if they’re a fit.
Automate content posting
As we mentioned earlier in the article, posting good, relevant content on a consistent basis is the key to growing your following on social media. But similar to emails, it can often be difficult to keep up with and lose momentum. One way to counter this is to simply plan out all your content for the week at once, and have them scheduled to go out at consistent intervals. This will leave you with only to look after replies and comments manually, as other content gets posted automatically. You can use various social media scheduling social selling tools for the same.
While engaging on social media is great – email still is the primary platform for sales, and professional communications in general. But prospects tend to be more candid and honest over social media platforms. And this makes social content a great conversation starter. When you’re approaching cold prospects on email, find their social profiles and activity. If they’re active users on a social media platform – browse through their posts. You’re likely to find content with some common ground. These can help kick start a conversation that’s more engaging for your prospect. Use this content as a hook while introducing yourself. Then tell them why you’re reaching out, and it’ll make connecting with prospects much easier.
Over the years, we’ve found better ways to connect and nurture relationships with leads. A couple of decades ago, the only way to find B2B buyers was to cold call your way through Yellow pages.
Today, social media platforms dominate the top of the funnel lead generation, along with the rest of the funnel. This is thanks to the reach and adoption of these platforms. All these benefits make for a compelling use case to make social selling part of your sales process. Social media makes for a more open, honest and straightforward way to interact with prospects. Since these platforms operate on those principles – it’s hard not to have more meaningful and engaging conversations. As Koka Sexton puts it – your buyers today know as much as you, so conversations are much more productive due the amount of information available online and on social media.
So if you have a well positioned, distinct and robust product offering that’s loved by your existing customers, social selling is a must. It helps you spread your product’s message and find prospects and leads that might resonate with it. All of this on a channel that your potential customers are spending more time than ever on, making it easier for everyone involved.
Have you found better ways to find leads on social media platforms? Share with us in the comments!