Social Selling - 5 ways to go about it
Today’s B2B buyers are socially sophisticated and better informed than ever before. With a library of content now available at the touch of a button, getting insights onto the latest products and services has never been easier for buyers. Here’s some eye opening facts from some of the leading industry experts on how the B2B buyer journey is changing:
- 70% of the B2B purchase process is complete before a buyer contacts a vendor or sales person (Google’s Digital Best Practice for B2B Marketers 2016)
- 90% of B2B buyers research online for purchase decisions (Nicky Kriel Social Media 2016)
- 85% of B2B buyers use social media as a part of their purchasing process (Cisco's Tech Marketing in 2016)
- 67% of the customer journey is digital (Cisco's Tech Marketing in 2016)
And if that isn’t enough: Forrester Research forecasts that by 2020, 1 million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce, accounting for 20 per cent of the B2B sales force.
Taking these stats into consideration, it is clear to see that B2B buyers are online, researching their options, gathering data, looking for help. So if you can provide them with information when they are stuck then you can influence their decisions. And this is where Social Selling comes in. Social Selling is all about using social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to create rapport and build relationships with potential customers. You begin by creating and fostering a relationship online with the intention that, at some point, it will result in offline relationships.
To help you get started in Social Selling, here are five tools you can implement as part of your sales strategy which will influence buyers:
A social platform is your shop window to the world. From a B2B perspective, Social Selling has never been easier thanks to LinkedIn. Here, you can connect with future prospects, engage with insights and share your own expert content via LinkedIn Pulse.
It’s important that you build a personal profile and establish your personal brand on here. It may sound obvious, but first of all you need to have a complete profile – from your profile picture to personal summary to your current job title and previously held positions. Once you are set up, all you need to do is connect and start building those relationships!
So far this may all have been obvious to you –listening, however, is sometimes overlooked and it is absolutely key. You need to use social to listen to the people you're looking to engage with. Listen, respond and engage with your target audience on social media and you will develop an altogether different level of relationship.
A whole new set of influencers have emerged on social media who hold more power than you thought possible. They influence brands, networks and buyers on a mass scale. Identify who they are in your market, connect with them and start sharing knowledge and insights. Top Rank Marketing recently claimed 84% of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a referral.
4. Marketing Automation
Marketing Automation is a crucial tool for Social Selling because it gives visibility into all behaviours of a sales prospect once the conversation goes offline. These behaviours include website page visits, landing pages, social media assets, and a lot more. This technology is a great way to nurture leads over time and if you don’t have one in place, well now is the time!
5. Enterprise social networks
Having an internal social network in place can improve internal efficiency by cutting down email and bringing the sales and marketing teams closer together – a crucial aspect of social selling success. For example, at our agency all team members have set up private Twitter profiles and have connected with each other. Here they can share their thoughts, tips, their schedule for the day or even just ‘chat’ with each other – it’s a great way for the team to stay connected.
Relationships have always underpinned the selling process for brands. Selling has always been social and people will always do business with those people they know, like, and ultimately trust. Today, we just have so many more ways of being social.
Sylvia Laws, Managing Director, Technical Associates Group