Social Selling: Are You Still On the Fence?

Social selling is a relatively new tactic that salespeople are tapping into to generate leads and build a target audience pool. However, few sales organizations have successfully leveraged it. Let’s take a peek into the pros and cons.

With the right processes and training, social selling can become a promising sales channel.

With the right processes and training, social selling can become a promising sales channel.

The Good

Work culture has shifted on a global level. People and organizations are increasingly moving away from conventional roles and hours of business. Many behavioral attributes that organizations discouraged a few years ago are now being embraced, including access to social channels “at work”. Many organizations are encouraging employee advocacy and are actively asking employees to amplify the corporate message through their social channels.

Insight into a target buyer’s interests is on the wish list of every sales rep in the world. Knowledge about both professional and personal interests that can be gleaned if your prospects are active on social media channels is invaluable for making the initial contact and nurturing a relationship.

Social selling is the act of engaging with your target audience via social media and is already a proven and successful channel for brands to interact with consumers. Building one-on-one relationships as a salesperson, and not a brand, gets a bit trickier.

Here’s the good news – the adage that “buyers are doing 60% or more of the sales cycle on their own before you get to them (or they come to you)” is the reason social selling works. You know they are looking for information – so you have a chance to become a resource to them and provide value.

The most successful social sellers tend to be part of a sales organization that has adopted the practice and trained their teams on how to do it successfully.

The Bad

Social selling may seem easy – “I’ll just ping my targets on social media instead of leaving a voicemail or sending another email.” Right? Wrong!

This is where the term social “selling” becomes confusing because it’s not about “selling” your product or service, rather its about “selling” yourself and why you should be trusted. And the pitfalls don’t stop there.

Train or fail:  As noted in the example above, not all sales people are social media savvy. Hard selling behavior erodes the brand value and ends up turning off potential customers instead of gaining their business or loyalty. Find a social selling methodology that works for your organization and invest in training your reps.

Not a traditional selling replacement: Social selling is meant to augment your current selling tactics, not replace them. Not everyone will be able to adopt this skill successfully, regardless of the training they receive. Be mindful of chasing the new shiny thing – make it part of your ongoing training mix.

Where’s the ROI: It’s true that measuring ROI from this tactic is difficult. Most of the success is going to be anecdotal – stories shared at sales meetings or with peers. And, of course, you will know immediately when someone is frustrated with the practice! Similar to meeting a new prospect at a live networking event, social selling won’t be that one thing that closed a deal but bringing value to your prospects before your competitors will always give you a leg up.

The Bottom Line

With the right processes and training, social selling can become a promising sales channel.21% more sales reps met sales quota and 31% more sales teams achieved quota

Know thy customer: Social media platforms help you gather enough behavioral data about your customers that you can develop accurate insights about their needs. A person who has a need that you have a solution for should more valuable than someone who meets your minimum demographic criteria.

Deliver value: You will not succeed if you don’t have a laser focus on being relevant to your prospects. Become that resource that is sharing valuable insights on a regular basis. You don’t have to create it on your own. You can share corporate content, content from media outlets in your industry, anything that is relevant to your prospects needs.

One major reason why sales organizations shouldn’t ignore social selling is that their customers’ behavior is changing and it’s taking them increasingly to these platforms. If you are not tuned into their needs, how will you gain their attention?

Social media platforms, like any other sales channel, demand time and effort to build a reputation of credibility. But the payoff can’t be ignored. Time to get off the fence and get started before it’s too late!

Leslie Stefanik

Vice President, Digital Marketing

Leslie is a B2B marketing executive focused on tying strategic marketing initiatives to corporate objectives through branding, revenue marketing, and media and analyst relations.

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