Social selling involves leveraging our social networks to find and communicate with the right prospects and build trusted relationships with customers. In this process, we use social media to find new customers, establish a rapport with existing customers, and extend our reach. Social selling techniques include sharing relevant and useful content and insights on our website, blog and social media pages, and social listening.
Social selling has been discussed a lot in recent years. Marketing experts aver that it has now become an essential part of a successful marketing and sales campaign. An interesting aspect of social selling is that the ownership of this activity is not limited to one business unit – participation from all employees, across the organization, especially those who are active on the Web and social media, makes it much more effective.
In this context, a recent NASSCOM webinar on Social Selling and Demand Generation in a B2B Context, offered some interesting how-to’s on the topic.
The speaker, Paroma Sen, who leads Industry and Innovation Marketing at SAP, explained the finer points of social selling. She defined it as:
A new way for sales executives and their support network to generate revenue through finding, connecting, engaging and collaborating with potential prospects online, stay top of mind and close more deals by using social media to build trusted relationships with customers in the digital age.
In her talk, she spoke about how digital marketing and advertising models have evolved over the last few decades. She pointed out that the social media we have today (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et al.) “are places where our customers have their eyeballs”, and it is “imperative that we get our message where their eyeballs are”.
Quoting from recent research by IDC and other leading agencies, she said 75% of B2B buyers now use social media to research vendors.
There are two important facets to social selling, she said.
Social Listening: Companies have to understand their customers, monitor competition, identify and engage with influencers, monitor feedback (for their product, content, etc.) and also understand their customers’ customers.
Social Sharing and Engaging: This helps a company build a trusted, ongoing relationship with a customer, over time.
There are also different levels of social interaction.
Beginner Level: This involves interacting with content shared by others. For example, when we ‘Like’, comment on, or retweet posts.
Do: Retweet posts with a comment that adds value or ask a question to keep a conversation going. This is an opportunity to reinforce brand image or credibility. However, make sure you follow your company’s social media guidelines.
Don’t: Engage in conflict (you represent your company’s brand) even if people troll you online.
Intermediate Level: This involves sharing third-party content, with a comment, in your account or in groups, or when you join a discussion. It could be advice or business tips, offering solutions to a problem, a question, quote, opinion or viewpoint.
Advanced Level: This is when we create original content such as blog posts, video blogs, etc. It is important to ensure that this content is interesting to your audience – make sure it is relevant to their business, or a learning opportunity, and is entertaining! Visuals, she added, “get 120% more engagement”.
Social media, Sen says, is a place to “build trust and long-term relationships that you take to fruition over a period of time” with customers, thought leaders and influencers.