B2B social selling seems to be one of the hottest and most over used terms in B2B sales at the moment. So what on earth is all the fuss about? If the hype is to be believed then buyers are plentiful and if you’re not there, you’re going to miss out. What’s more, some would have you believe that this is the only way to sell these days. So is this really true? Is your social prowess really the deciding factor whether or not they’ll engage with you and if social media is the future of selling, then how are you going to get on board?
Is your audience really on social media?
First things first, there’s really no point getting concerned if your buyers are not using social media. For some industries or verticals, social media isn’t that important. There are plenty of different types of people around and not all of them like to be so public. The mere thought of publicly putting themselves out there terrifies them. This may not always be the case, so periodically check whether they’re there (a good CRM will probably tell you their social connections).
For those leads that are active on social media, find out exactly where they are – and it may not be limited to the main social platforms. There are plenty of niche forums and communities that often get missed when talking about ‘social media’.
As part of the research process, look thoroughly into the companies as well as the individuals. You can even delve deeper to find new opportunities and identify key targets through social media. LinkedIn is fantastic for research and Twitter is great for lead generation through advanced searches.
So you’ve done some research and your prospects are there. What’s next?
(Please note, that even if they aren’t there, there’s still merit in doing some social media. The search engines use social media platforms to find you, so if you choose to ignore the main platforms, do so at your peril).
Make your audience feel good
Everyone likes to be recognised and have a little notice taken of them. The best way forward is to give your audience what they want – just a little bit of recognition for their activity on social media.
It isn’t just about hitting the share, like or favourite button, it’s much more than that. It’s about giving long term, persistent recognition and ensuring that what you put out on the networks is highly valuable – after all, there’s no point undervaluing yourself or your business.
Social selling is social networking
Social selling has many parallels with networking in real-life. Just think about how you feel when you network with your peers, or even strangers. Initially it’s lonely, you have to engage with others to get anything out of the session and have to give value in order to get anything back in return.
What’s more, walking into a room of networkers, you always see a few common stereotypes. There are those that do all the talking, usually about themselves. Then there’s the ones that are great connectors – they work the room, know everyone and know how to connect with you. There’s the newbies, that don’t say that much, are a little shy and stand around the edges. With social media, it’s much the same.
So, when you’re in that networking room, how do you feel when someone simply talks at you? And then, how do you feel when someone takes the time to ask you about yourself, listens and asks real questions? You feel a little more valued, you emotionally connect with them and develop a personal relationship – the rest is magic (well, more or less).
Social selling is the same as selling in real life – it’s listening, being genuine, developing strong relationships, being there at the right time and taking the time to be helpful. All this, without a hint of ‘selling’ and with complete integrity.
The steps to get started
- Listen to what your target audience (suspects and prospects) say and do every day, spend time listening to what they share about, talk about and do. Get an idea of who they are and build a profile of them (remember that CRM you have). Interact with them, like their content, share their content.
- Ask them about their tweets and posts. Actively take an interest in them. Most people who are active in social media are there to talk about themselves or share their content.
- Leave a comment or @reply them about the content they’ve shared. Tell them why the content is useful and help them share their content.
- From your profile building, you should know what their interests or challenges are. Seek out useful information and share content with them that you know they will like or will help them.
- Privately message them when they leave a comment in a thread or discussion. Ask a question about their comment and take your conversation offline.
- Failing that, why not just pick up the phone or email them telling them how much you enjoy their blog, tweets or discussion points. Ask them about it further and share why it made an impact on you. (This may seem ballsy, but the information is out there in the public domain, and if your approach is done well, they’ll welcome the conversation).
When it comes to social selling, a few simple gestures can have a staggering impact. Most people simply create noise – they’re too busy trying to get their message out. Very few actually take the time to interact, engage and develop a relationship. Those that do, succeed.