Sales have been evolving at a swift pace as companies evolve the buying process. Today selling is far more transparent with a higher degree of involvement of both the parties.
As selling changes, social platforms have become an effective way for the sales team to build relationships and drive business. As per LinkedIn research, 70 percent of sales personnel are using social platforms. More importantly, they see relationship building tools as having a critical impact on their revenue.
So, what is Social Selling? Social selling is leveraging social platforms to build a relationship with prospects and partnering them through the sales funnel.
It’s also important to understand what is not social selling. It is not about sending multiple tweets or messages to prospects on social networks. That is akin to spamming and does not work.
It is also not about gaining access to a prized contact on social but more about listening and joining conversations at the right time. Using a good listening tool to understand what is being talked about is key to good social selling.
The buying journey of a prospect in the case of B2B businesses is much longer than in the case of B2C. A B2B social buyer is more informed and thus evaluates his options in a more rational way. Brands cannot easily influence buyers without sharing well-crafted content specific to the customer journey stage.
1. Customers are already there: Most of the B2B customers are present on at least one or more social media channels. As per LinkedIn, 90% of B2B customers are using social platforms for their professional work. Brands can analyze social listening data and be involved in conversations sparked by prospects who are researching, reading reviews, and engaging with people with relevant insights.
2. Social selling builds relationships: Social selling is a more organic way to communicate with customers without it seems that you are doing a hard sell. The brand’s social channels then become a source of information for buying research and not another page trying to get you to buy their product.
3. Social selling is about building trust: It is important for brands to be thought leaders in their space. This is because the trust a prospect is likely to have in you depends on your established expertise in that industry. Good customer service, positive reviews, and sharing relevant content can help brands establish authority. Blogs, white papers, podcasts, videos, research reports, infographics, relevant news stories, and curated content are important to establish the brand on social platforms.
It is also about listening to your customer and changing your content approach accordingly. Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the real estate services firm, realized after speaking to their clients that they were not finding too much value adds in their white papers’ vis-a-vis the content circulated by their competition.
JLL decided to focus on creating videos that were more candid and featured the sales team directly. They were able to give fresh insights and their videos were a hit with their customers.
Facebook and LinkedIn have been big since the start among brands as far as social selling is concerned. Facebook with its inbuilt store feature for business pages and LinkedIn with its sales navigator and in mail messages are the go-to platforms for B2B brands.
Platforms like Twitter and Instagram are fast gaining traction among B2B brands as well.
Dell has been one of the leaders on social media globally and even in India. Dell operates two Twitter B2B feeds. The Dell Cares PRO provides 24x7 global support while Dell for Business is primarily focused on answering queries of small and medium businesses. Dell also has a LinkedIn Group called business solutions exchange which has about 14K members, out of which almost all are active prospects for the company’s B2B and B2C businesses. This group is about sharing ideas about IT and business.
Another brand that is effective in social selling is Bajaj Electricals. Their campaign #MagicOfLight targeted the B2B segment. The campaign was a series of animated videos portraying short stories of how Bajaj is transforming lives through its efforts in power transmission and distribution. The campaign garnered tweets from influencers like Paresh Rawal and Shobha De.
Social media is increasingly critical to the B2B buying process. Prospects are there and are likely to be using the platforms to do their own research. However, being present on every social platform may not be the solution. What is important is to identify the platforms where your prospects are likely to be, for example, Instagram in the case of interior designers, and share relevant insights with them to drive conversations and eventually deeper relationships.