VR NEWS – SOCIAL SELLING
Social selling – hip buzzword or sustainable sales strategy
Even before the coronavirus outbreak and the changes resulting from it, social selling found its way into the sales strategy of many companies, however, with different priorities. The current crisis and the elimination of traditional and established sales channels, such as trade fairs or presentations on site, clearly show that digital sales channels should have a relevant position within a company’s strategy to continue to exist on the market.
Quality instead of quantity or what social selling actually is
Social selling is much more than another buzzword or another outbound channel. The focus with social selling is on personal conversation (one-to-one communication) with individual decision-makers. This makes it significantly different from conventional social media marketing or campaigning where a broader audience of followers and fans (one-to-many communication) is targeted. With social selling, products are not praised or sold blatantly, instead it is possible to establish a trustful relationship with potential customers and prepare them for their purchase decision.
Social selling uses an important instrument – social listening. If used strategically, and correctly, this makes it possible to enter discussions at just the right moment and to be presented as a solution to a certain problem. Different from classic marketing campaigns, social selling does not artificially create a certain need and feeling; this need is already present with social selling and is exactly what it is based on.
High quality content with an added value for the reader is a must. This may be in the form of guest posts, expert articles or blogs that are then placed in a suitable environment. The objective is to establish a trustworthy image of the brand or the company and thereby generate a sustainable relationship to potential customers. However, this relationship is not limited to the mere liking, commenting and sharing of posts. The objective instead is to have a real interaction occur and enter a dialog at eye level. Interesting, useful and, above all, authentic information is needed to achieve this objective.
Who is social selling appropriate for?
Social selling can be sustainable and successfully used both in the B2B and B2C sector and can be implemented for practically almost any product or service. A successful social selling strategy for a company works best if sales representatives and marketers work together hand-in-hand and coordinate the respective measures with each other.
The core target groups are normally experts and decision-makers on the B2B level, but also end users in the B2C sector.
Depending on the product or service provider, the respective channel used for social selling may be different. Business networks like LinkedIn or Xing allow B2B providers excellent opportunities for one-to-one communication with experts and decision-makers, as well as a sustainable commitment in industry-specific groups. And on Twitter, so-called Twitter-Listen offers an excellent opportunity of social listening, which can be used to identify the existing problems.
The classification and scaling of social selling within the scope of sales activities
Countless studies show that social selling should play a central role within the scope of the respective sales activities and these days it is necessary for companies to work in a sustainable and successful manner. In a study, Hootsuite found out that sales representatives with high social selling activity achieved 45 percent more success in sales compared to sales representatives who did not use this channel or only used it sparingly.
The logic behind this is simple. Potential customers mainly use social media to find out about products that solve a certain problem or cover a need. Purchase decisions are made through recommendations based on expertise and trust. According to Hootsuite, nearly 75 percent of all B2B buyers indicated that they have a positive impression of a person that they know through social networks.
The relevance of social selling for companies that results from this is obvious. If you do not actively pursue social selling, you will not even be noticed by the customers and under circumstances, this may mean you miss out on large sales.
The respective sales activities of a company can be individually assessed with the aid of a social selling index (SSI). Tools like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator offer an up-to-date analysis of how social selling activities are performing.
What should I expect if I want to successfully implement social selling?
Successful social selling requires a change in thinking on the sales and marketing side regarding traditional sales channels.
1. Quality instead of quantity:
While quantity counts with classic sales in order to reach a large number of potential customers, quality is decisive for social selling. Departure from a one-to-many to a one-to-one communication.
2. Listen instead of arguing:
Experienced sales representatives know how to convince potential customers to buy a certain product by using the right arguments. Objections and concerns are cleverly brushed aside and, in the best case, completely disappear. With social selling, however, it is most important to listen. The art of social selling is to determine the customer needs from their words and to signal to the potential customer from the very beginning that they are seen as an individual.
3. Solve problems instead of creating needs:
Classic sales and classic marketing are designed to arouse emotions and to establish a need. Even if the customer maybe does not really event have a problem right now, the respective product is still a solution. Social selling counts on a different point. The problem is there, the need already determined and the desire for a solution present. The sales representative must simply introduce the right solution for the respective problem at the right moment.
Best practice examples
In order to successfully implement social selling, an efficient strategy with a few important best practice points is needed.
1. Be present
An authentic, personal and competent interaction is important for social selling. Sales representatives must place their focus on the establishment of personal relationships and make high quality contacts. Individual interactions are more important than quantitative contacts.
2. Be the trustworthy expert
With social selling, your entire social media presence is just as important as the interaction with potential customers. The respective profile should be designed correspondingly so that it is directly clear where the expertise lies and why you are an expert in the respective area, however, without seeming like advertising. The right content is crucial here.
Social listening is crucial with social selling in order to be able to make the right contacts. Here it is important to get to know the potential customers better and to find out more about their individual problems.
4. Establish sustainable relationships
When reaching out to a contact, it makes sense to initially check if there are already connections to other contacts. This makes it easier to enter a dialog. If these connections do not exist, it will be crucial to listen well in advance to correctly connect the dots.
If you want to have success with your product or service in an increasingly digital world, there’s no way around social selling. Nevertheless, it is important for companies to observe and approach this type of sales separated from classic sales and marketing methods. Social selling follows its own rules and these must be implemented far away from advertising and sales-oriented measures.
This article was first published on 20.05.2020 by Marvin Tekautschitz on LinkedIn
Marvin is Co. founder of WeAre and
an expert on the field of Virtual Reality.