Social Selling consists of identifying and contacting prospects on social networks in order to convert them into customers. That’s for the simple definition of Social Selling. If you stop at this one, you won’t get any results. So what exactly is Social Selling and how to do it? Let’s see that now.
No offense to some experts, Social Selling is not just about creating profiles on social networks and sending typical copy/paste prospecting messages.
I have seen trainers or speakers present Social Selling in this way.
It is therefore not surprising to see the majority of salespeople do this and give up after a few weeks for lack of results!
Importing your obsolete prospecting methods on social networks, that’s not Social Selling
This anecdote is bound to open your chakras.
When you sign a new client, you audit their marketing and sales actions to understand what works and what does not.
We then interview several of our clients to check that their action plan is well suited to the expectations and behaviors of their target.
Very often, we audit clients who have invested crazy sums on LinkedIn to prospect for CEOs of SMEs or ETIs. They are quite proud of this initiative: “our target is on LinkedIn, that’s obvious! “
Indeed, the CEOs they target do have a LinkedIn account. On the other hand, when we interview them, they often admit that they do not connect to it because they are harassed by salespeople in a manic copy/paste mode!
In other words, these companies that invest in LinkedIn and Social Selling have been throwing their money down the drain for months or even years.
And this problem comes from the fact that most salespeople think, or at least act as if the definition of Social Selling comes down to “prospecting on social networks”.
They, therefore, import their obsolete prospecting actions, which no longer work by telephone or in physics, on a modern lever, thinking that they will obtain results.
Well no: this is not Social Selling!
The true definition of Social Selling
Social Selling is a commercial approach consisting of using social networks to identify qualified prospects and listen to them in order to bring them added value and guide them in their buying thinking.
There is no word “sell” in this definition of Social Selling.
What exactly is Social Selling?
This definition may seem very theoretical to you, but it is important to look into it if you want to gain customers with Social Selling.
Social Selling happens on social networks, we don’t need to go back over it.
To generate results with Social Selling, you need to identify qualified prospects. Again, I think it is clear.
The rest of the definition of Social Selling is less obvious: “listen to these prospects with the aim of providing them with added value and guiding them in their buying thinking”.
Listening, the key to Social Selling
What do Social Selling and social network have in common? In both concepts, there is the word “social”.
Who says social says relationship. And who says relationship says trust and sharing.
Social Selling consists above all in analyzing the profiles and behaviors of your prospects on social networks in order to be able to contact them in a personalized way and at the right time.
You find a cool prospect on LinkedIn following a comment he left on a post about a new financial standard. If you are in this business area, you can send them an invitation and provide them with web content detailing the implications of this standard for a company like his.
This is Social Selling.
With Social Selling, we don’t sell, we guide
Most of the prospects you’ll reach on social media aren’t far enough along in their buying thinking to pay close attention to a message that says you’re the best, the cheapest, or the fastest.
Very often, they will not even be active in their thinking and will only be at the “I have a problem” stage.
The major challenge of Social Selling is to forge a relationship with a prospect and to guide him in his purchase reflection to gradually bring him to the Decision phase of the diagram above. From then on, you can set up a commercial meeting with him to sell.
Social Selling, how exactly to do it?
1. Identify your Social Selling champions
So if you are thinking about Social Selling for you or you don’t have multiple sales reps in your home, you can take the next step.
On the other hand, if your sales department is made up of at least 3 people, you will have to do a little change management to encourage your salespeople to get into Social Selling.
As you have noticed, Social Selling requires the implementation of a new commercial process. And who says novelty means change.
However, by nature, humans are against change.
For example, you could be faced with salespeople who do not want to create accounts on social networks or make them available to your company.
So, to encourage your salespeople to do Social Selling, you will have to be very persuasive.
One of the keys consists of proposing the challenge to the salesperson or to the few salespeople who are most favorable to the approach so that they serve as examples of the most resistant.
If a sales rep is Social Selling and gets results, be sure others are going to want to follow.
2. Optimize your profiles for Social Selling
Social Selling consists of identifying qualified prospects to guide them in their purchase thinking by providing them with added value.
Ok, we saw it: we stop selling and we start to help. Very good.
But it is not enough to decide to do it. Your profile on LinkedIn or other social networks should reflect this approach.
Concretely, you must optimize your profile in order to allow your prospects to quickly understand what you can bring them.
Here are some essential points to create an optimized profile for Social Selling:
- A professional profile photo;
- A cover photo showcasing your value;
- A description encouraging contact;
- An experience that translates your results;
- All using the keywords entered by your target.
3. Identify qualified prospects
I see sales reps on a regular basis adding contacts on LinkedIn without looking to see if they are truly qualified prospects.
The process of wanting to mass in order to mathematically gain customers makes no sense with Social Selling.
It no longer has any meaning, but it is a vast subject.
To do Social Selling effectively, you need to have a very clear idea of who your ideal prospect is, so you know where to look and sort them out.
In this process, if this is not done, I strongly encourage you to work on your Persona before starting a Social Selling action.
4. Curate and create content
To do Social Selling, you must have quality content to share in a private message but also directly in the news feed of your contacts.
In other words, you must be able to share content that answers the questions that your prospects ask themselves according to their level of maturity.
You then have 2 possibilities to have this content: either you create it, or you find it on the Internet.
There are bound to be specialized sites, blogs, podcasts, or YouTube channels in your current field that offer quality content.
Identify them and follow them regularly.
5. Work on a contact process
How to contact prospects when doing Social Selling? Add contacts, no problem. Contacting them is always more complex.
It’s also a question I love to ask when training salespeople in Social Selling. What is your contact process?
Very often, I have the same answer: “we don’t have one, we send a typical message to our contacts”.
Your process must be aligned with your sales cycle and must take into account the level of maturity of your prospects.
Remember the diagram I have shown you on several occasions: the challenge of Social Selling is to guide your prospects in their thinking to bring them into the Decision phase in order to have a chance to convert them into customers.
6. Don’t just push content
This is a mistake I made myself when I first started doing Social Selling: I shared content with the aim of attracting prospects but I never interacted with other people’s content.
This is a mistake for two reasons.
First, in Social Selling, as we saw previously, there is Social. Algorithms on social networks are made to favor profiles that interact with other users.
If you only push information, you will eventually be penalized and lose visibility.
The other reason is that other people’s posts are a great opportunity to make yourself visible to new prospects.
By commenting on the publications of your competitors or experts in your field of activity, you make yourself visible to their community. I quickly realized this when I regularly saw competitors comment on mine.
Measuring the performance of your Social Selling- How to do it?
It is ultimately the 7th step to successfully win clients with Social Selling.
To check the performance of your actions but also with a view to providing incentives for your sales representatives, you must define key indicators (KPIs) to be monitored regularly.
Performance indicators to monitor
The challenge here is to try not to fall into the quantitative to the detriment of the qualitative.
If you define for example the number of contacts a sales representative has in his network, he will tend to add everyone and anyone just to satisfy this indicator.
But in the end, it will have no interest in your turnover.
LinkedIn offers an indicator that it’s worth what it’s worth (I think you have to take it with a grain of salt!): The Social Selling Index.
With its Social Selling Index, LinkedIn gives you areas for improvement to follow in order to be more efficient.
Here are some key performance indicators you can track to take things further:
- The number of Leads generated from social networks;
- The engagement rate;
- The scope of the publications;
- The response rate to private messages;
- The conversion rate of Leads generated by Social Selling