When consumers want to learn more about a business, where do they turn? Here’s a clue – the answer is no longer a three-inch yellow brick of a book that ends up on your doorstep.
Likely, they’ll search the brand out on Google or Facebook. From there, a brand hopes that what they find provokes a positive reaction.
If it doesn’t, they’ll hear about you via a newer method – one that’s likely to continue gaining traction throughout 2019. It’s called social selling, where employees and salespeople utilize social media to share relevant content and build relationships via their own social accounts, whether that’s a personal or business page.
Go Where the People Are
Research shows that 67% of a buyer’s journey is now done digitally and they’re likely to consume a handful of content before taking action with a business – five pieces of content, to be exact.
So, it makes complete sense for a salesperson to leverage this medium to build connections with not only their current clients, but also prospects and referral sources. But the goals should not be short-sighted – leads may not be collected immediately. According to research – and my own personal experience managing social selling programs – with proper implementation, the long-term relationships fostered online have serious potential to bloom into leads, referral sources and brand advocates. In fact, 78% of salespeople active in social selling outsell their peers who aren’t on social media.
How it Works
It’s all about execution, follow-through and knowing how to motivate your salespeople and employees to properly represent your brand, but also produce personal and relatable content that speaks to your target audience. This may include pre-crafted content from the brand available for sharing or suggestions that allow for personalization. For some, Facebook is the best network, while LinkedIn is more appropriate for others, depending on the target audience.
Some may say their target audience is not active on social media, particularly if they’re C-Suite or key decision-makers, but statistics tell a different story. According to an International Data Corporation study, 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions. LinkedIn, the C-level platform of choice, has particularly found success offering social selling strategies to users – so much that they have formalized a premium service called Sales Navigator to help users maximize this strategy.
First Step: Quality Content
The key is providing content of value that keeps your audience coming back for more and doesn’t make them feel constantly “sold to” which could result in them no longer wanting to see your face on the screen. Yes, it is also the same for brand accounts, but social selling allows for a much more personal connection – human to human – so one must proceed with a bit more caution. An employee or ambassador advocating on behalf of a brand puts a face to the business, and allows that brand and their products to become more relatable.
And for those in sales, social selling is one of the best ways to position yourself as an authority in the field by sharing educational articles, infographics, videos and personal blogs. It also puts you in direct contact with real people, both leads and key decision-makers who can impact the business. Much easier than cold-calling! Not to mention it’s a softer connection that feels less intrusive and more genuine.
Don’t be surprised to see more and more realtors, loan officers, salespeople or those who earn on commission beefing up their presence on social media. With its continued rise, it will be interesting to see which brands will commit time and resources to helping their salespeople leverage this tactic to achieve their business goals.