With the advent of social networking sites, a new way to sell has emerged: social selling; using social media to sell directly to prospects.
Social selling is a practice where companies provide value by engaging prospects and creating thoughtful content to prompt a conversion.
It is revolutionary in the sense that it engages the prospects where they want to be engaged, rather than interrupting their lives with cold calling and hard sells.
How social selling differs from traditional sales
Social selling is both an inbound and outbound way to communicate with ideal customers. When done right, depending on the length of your sales cycle, it can allow you to close more sales in a single day than you could achieve in a week using traditional sales methods.
Traditional selling is “a manipulative and pressure-filled process designed to get someone to buy regardless of whether they want to buy or not.” Smart marketers and salespeople have shifted from “more traditional sales methodologies and [moved] towards a more consultative, educational approach to selling…” Social selling complements this new approach.
Social selling is like cold calling except the leads are warm
The fundamental difference between traditional outbound sales and social selling is that traditional selling attempts to engage on the company’s terms, while social selling engages customers when they are most receptive to brand messages.
According to GlobalWebIndex, the top 5 reasons why people use social media are to: stay in touch, stay up-to-date, kill time, be entertained and share opinions.
As long as you are there to consistently engage with them and support their motivations they will welcome your engagement.
Social selling cultivates a sense of attachment
This is the single most important benefit that social selling has over the traditional sales. Traditional selling is about trying to close the deal, whatever the cost.
However, social selling is about sales seduction … drawing the prospect closer to you so you can share why your solution is the best. Social selling encourages listening to the concerns of prospects by engaging in online conversations.
Social selling is smart business
“Globally, digital consumers say they are now spending an average of almost 2 hours per day [30 percent of their time] on social networks.” According to Pew Research, “Today around seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information and entertain themselves.”
Engaging with ideal customers when they are the most receptive is smart business. More companies are leveraging the power of social selling to increasing their customer base, grow brand awareness and meet key business objectives.
Conquer social selling with these tools
Despite some overlapping features, these social selling tools do not compete with each other because of their specific problem-solving capacity.
Generate lead lists fast with KiteDesk. Their sales prospecting software makes lead generation, research and prospecting much faster than your average Google search. The web app, Chrome extension, and social media search toolbar works cohesively across the Web to find relevant information (email, phone number, etc.) and include matches on a lead list that can be uploaded to your CRM app.
While rFactr is as an enterprise tool it has useful implications for fast-growth startups. rFactr amplifies sales activities while providing valuable intelligence and insights across the social ecosystem. rFactr SocialPort helps you manage all of your social accounts via one dashboard, create and share approved content at scale with multiple reps, integrate with CRM to close the loop and more.
This influencer marketing platform helps identify relevant influencers in your market with tools like discovery, activation, and insights. Their social insight and optimization platform helps companies identify relevant influencers and turn them into advocates.
Nimble offers small businesses the best features of a high-end CRM system combined with the power of social media. Nimble automatically updates itself with relevant prospect and customer information from dozens of online data sources. It offers robust features including: contact management, sales & marketing automation, deal pipeline and reporting, e-mail tracking and analytics, etc.
Social selling yields results
The adoption of a structured social selling strategy can result in an increase in market share, brand awareness, revenue growth and brand growth. For example:
Guardian Life Insurance of America saw a 56% increase in connections and a total of $21 million in life insurance which was attributed to their social selling practices.
PGi, a web conferencing company, saw a 22x return on their investment with $900,000 in revenue directly attributable to LinkedIn.
General Electric uses social media to attract like-minded people to their social media profile and engage them. They share innovative research and simple science experiments.
AT&T used blogging sales strategy to renew a fading client to the tune of $47 million.
Every small business can jumpstart a simple social strategy by applying the information available in social channels to aid in sales strategies and pursuits. Be present where your ideal customer is, create value, build authority and leverage the right tools and you’re on your way.
This article has been edited.
Sudhan Shanmugasundaram is an entrepreneur, technologist and a motivator. Currently he is leading a team of 24 people who work relentlessly to create a seamless online marketplace for jobseekers, mentors and hiring managers: HR CUBE. In Sep’16, he launched another startup called MINTLY, which is focused on building go to marketplace for sales professionals (related jobs, content, training and community) in retail, FMCG and finance industries. Connect with @hrcubellc and @mintly on Twitter.