Social selling may be a topic you’ve thought about but haven’t put the time into truly learning and exploring it. This can be a mistake for your business. Whether you’re an individual seeking a way to expand your startup's customer base or you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company struggling with bottom line figures, social selling provides a new avenue for reaching a larger base of people.
In short, it's a critical component of any sales and marketing strategy.
If your business hasn’t tapped online sales and marketing in this manner or if you’re struggling with your reach, now is the time to change that. Every business owner, every sales professional, and all entrepreneurs should be skilled in social selling.
Why Does Social Selling Matter to Your Company?
Social selling isn’t digital selling — in which you drive buyer engagement through online presentations or sales automation.
It also isn’t social media marketing — which is a term used to describe a broader digital marketing strategy.
Rather, with social selling, the goal is to use social media platforms — such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and others — to develop relationships of value with your current and potential customers.
We’ve previously talked a bit more about social selling and how it’s done. Yet, many business owners and managers still haven’t invested the time, money, or effort into putting in place this key component.
For that reason, it’s important to learn why you should learn social selling.
That’s the key word here. You need to “learn” it, as it’s not as simplistic as it may sound.
It’s more than placing a simple ad on Facebook and waiting for the phone to ring. It’s also more than dropping a few tweets here and there.
When you put the time into learning effective social selling, you’ll see just how diverse and unique it is.
These Key Reasons Should Propel You to Invest in Learning Social Selling
Why should you train your salespeople in how to successfully engage with customers through social selling? And why should you invest in social selling skills for yourself, whether you are a business owner or a sales pro?
Here are a few key reasons to consider.
#1: Decision Makers Don’t Answer a Cold Call
Here’s an interesting statistic to take into consideration.
According to a LinkedIn Global Survey of 1,500 B2B decision makers and influencers, 90 percent of decision makers never answer a cold call.
Are you still relying on your sales team taking basic leads — sourced for all types of locations — and cold calling these potential clients? How many of those leads are truly becoming customers for you?
Whether you are in the B2B or B2C market, the fact is, people don’t want anything to do with cold calling.
There are even efforts in Washington and in various states to stop telemarketers from using consumer cell phone numbers.
Perhaps that doesn’t apply to your efforts right now. Yet, it tells the same story.
People who make decisions in businesses and in households don’t bother with cold calls.
There are plenty of reasons for this.
In some cases, they know that the person on the phone is just selling something to them. Who wants to be bothered by a sales call?
Second, the sales professional has no way of creating any type of true value with the caller, making the time a waste.
Social selling could be viewed as the direct opposite of this.
It’s about creating relationships and building a brand image.
Cold calling is just that — a cold, boring phone call from a person seeking money.
Social selling is an opportunity to engage, create relationships, and serve your potential customers in a far better manner.
#2: Social Media is One of the Top Online Activities for Your Prospects
You could be one of the many people who doesn’t spend much time on social media. You just don’t “get it” or see why it’s so valuable.
Many of today’s Millennials, who grew up using social media, would say the same thing about spending their time listening to the radio or watching television shows with commercials.
This is the medium consumers — your buyers — are using. This is where they spend their time.
A survey from Smart Insights shares some light. It found that social media use, along with video viewing, are the two most popular activities people engage in when they are online.
These activities make up more than one-third of all the time people spend on the internet.
How important is that? Here are some key figures to consider:
- There are 7.676 billion people in the world as of January of 2019
- Of those people, 5.112 billion are unique mobile users
- 4.388 billion are internet users
- 3.484 billion are social media users who are actively using these sites
It’s clear — people are using social media. Your money then is best spent when you put it into the media where your potential customers are already present.
Why would you put your advertising dollars anywhere else?
#3: B2B Buyers Now Use Social Media to Research Vendors
Many professionals may recognize that consumers use the internet to research — you may even do this yourself. You spend a few minutes learning about a company before you put money into them.
Research now indicates that B2B buyers are doing the same thing with potential vendors.
Surveys indicate that 75 percent of B2B buyers are now using social media to research vendors. This survey from IDC provides insight into the social selling aspect of B2B marketing.
Now it’s more than simply looking at a company’s website and comparing their services to other vendors. These days B2B professionals are turning to social media to better understand who they could potentially be working with if they decide to invest in a new product or service.
Consider, for a moment, what type of presence your business has on these social media websites.
Sites like LinkedIn provide a key opportunity for companies to create a positive presence, encouraging potential customers to investigate the company further.
If your business lacks this type of presence, it could be a clear indication to a potential customer to look elsewhere for the confirmation and support they need to make a decision.
In this way, social media is not just a sales tool, but also an informational resource. It’s a type of extension of your sales team, helping to close the deal or encouraging a prospective company to learn more about how you can help them.
#4: Social Selling Leaders Have More Sales Opportunities
Say what you will about how consumers or companies use social selling, but when it comes down to it, you need to know if it’s truly going to produce the dollars your business needs.
If you’re still looking for reasons to learn social selling, this is one of them.
According to a survey by LinkedIn, social selling leaders have 45 percent more opportunities each quarter than social selling laggards.
That’s the simple, clear definition of how to invest in any marketing. When you are a pro with skills in social selling, and you invest in the process, you’ll see a jump in your sales leads.
Getting leads today isn’t easy; in fact, it has become one of the most challenging factors for many companies. But those who are using social selling properly are seeing an increase in their lead numbers.
As mentioned, to be successful at social selling, you need to truly understand the process and methods involved. A component of this is learning how to build a strong social selling campaign with strategies that position your brand well.
If you fail to reach this level, you may see a few sales from time to time, but you won’t see the results your company needs.
Social selling leaders have far more opportunities to sell their products and services.
What could your sales team do with more leads?
#5: Social Sellers are More Likely to Meet Their Objectives than Non-Social Sellers
The same LinkedIn survey takes this a bit further. The survey found that social selling leaders are 51 percent more likely to hit their sales quota than social selling under-performers.
This can help you to see the value of social selling over other types of sales efforts.
Not only are your sales professionals getting more leads — and those are usually highly-targeted leads at that — but they are also more likely to turn those leads into sales.
This is where your ROI comes into play.
Many companies find that the investment in social selling skill development can easily produce better sales results for their business.
What you put into teaching your team how to sell on social media is going to come back to you time and time again. With more sales opportunities, and being more likely to hit their sales quota, it's clear social selling is helping companies to expand and grow.
One of the noticeable mistakes here is overlooking the skillset of your sales team.
It’s one thing to tell your team you want to focus on social selling as a way to reach leads. It’s quite another to give them the tools and resources they need to make that happen.
In short, you need them to learn how to make it possible.
#6: Company Revenue is Influenced by Social Selling
Many times, sales professionals and company executives still see offline revenue as the prime place to be.
Your business may still be thriving in your brick-and-mortar efforts. Nonetheless, you need to build relationships within your community or network.
That’s because a growing amount of company revenue is coming directly from social selling.
Another survey, this one by HubSpot in 2018, demonstrates this. It found that 50 percent — half — of all company revenue is now being influenced in some way through social selling.
This is happening across 14 of the most common industries including Software, Healthcare, Marketing, and Advertising.
That’s not to say that all of your revenue is going to stream from online sources. And, we are not just talking about digital sales here.
Sales and leads do come from online efforts including social selling. Yet, this concept of marketing goes further than that.
With such a large number of your customers being influenced by social media when making buying decisions, it is critical for your company to be there and to be making the right impression when they go looking for information.
Take into consideration how many of your current leads have been influenced by your social selling efforts.
How many people are you missing right now, considering so many industries are seeing over half of their leads come, in part, from social media’s influence?
Could this be a key area for your sales team to focus on?
#7: You Can Connect with More Decision Makers and Influencers Within Your Targeted Accounts
As a B2B company, you recognize the importance of building relationships with influencers and decision makers within your company’s industry.
You may know how important it is for you to shake hands at an industry seminar or function. Every handshake you get is one relationship you’re forming with the people who will decide whether or not to work with your business for their needs.
View social selling in the same frame of mind.
When you use social selling properly, you can connect with more decision makers than you could in any other way.
A Harvard Business Review study found this to be true. They learned that the number of people involved in a B2B purchase today is 6.8.
That means, in order for your company to land a contract, 6.8 people must agree with that decision.
When you identify and connect with as many of them as you can, you create improved opportunities for you to reach each one of those decision makers.
Doing this through social media gets the process done faster. There aren’t as many time limitations and obstacles to get through to make those “handshake moments” happen.
Overall, when you use social selling, you can identify and connect with many of those decision makers.
You spend less of your time on the process of networking and connecting since you are using your time and research tools more efficiently.
Where to Go from Here
As you’ve seen, social selling is a critical component to every industry and every B2B or B2C company.
If you’re not using it — or you are not getting these types of results from it right now — it’s time to take a closer look at why.
In nearly all situations, business leaders and sales pros understand the value of social selling. Yet, they may not have the tools or the knowledge to take this insight and turn it into a real, usable process.
Knowing what to do, how to reach your audience, and how to develop social selling strategies is critical.