Merriam Webster might lack a definition for 'social selling,' but we know a good thing when we see one, and 60% of U.S B2B marketers agree. So, it isn't a buzz word anymore.
Whether you're looking to build a business case for your team lead, or looking for specific small business or startup strategies to add to your toolkit, below are the key elements you need to take the next step.
So, What Is Social Media Sales?
How does social selling look like in the context of sales?
- Building relationships, not just sales: Social selling departs from traditional sales tactics by prioritizing relationship-building. Instead of pressuring quick responses, it takes the time to nurture leads, fostering a more meaningful connection with potential customers.
- Creating touch points: At its core, social selling is about establishing touch points with your audience. It leverages the power of social media networks to create meaningful interactions, ensuring that your brand stays top-of-mind when prospects are ready to make decisions.
- Precise connections: Unlike the broad strokes of traditional approaches, social selling hones in on connecting with the right people at the right time. It's a targeted social media strategy that emphasizes quality over quantity.
- Long-term focus: In contrast to the spray-and-play approach of cold calls and traditional lead generation, social selling plays the long game. By prioritizing relationship-building and effective social media management, it ensures that leads entering your funnel are not only qualified but actively seeking solutions.
Social Selling vs. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is like setting up a lively storefront online. It's about building brand awareness, sharing valuable content, and getting them interested in what you offer.
Social selling is when you use social media to connect with potential customers and actually sell your products or services. It goes beyond just talking to people – it's about building relationships and making direct sales happen through conversations on social media.
In simple terms, social media marketing gets people interested, and social selling turns that interest into actual sales by talking directly to customers on social media.
Benefits Of Social Selling For SaaS Brands
Not sure why social media selling is the rave these days? Here are five reasons why sales and marketing teams are selling on social these days.
1. Increases Sales Results
Sales teams engaged in social selling generate 45% more sales opportunities than those with a low social selling presence, and businesses that prioritize social selling are 51% more likely to hit their sales targets.
2. Engages Prospects And Customers In Real-Time
Social networks provide the perfect opportunity for building solid relationships with prospects and customers alike. Through social engagement, such as with likes, comments or direct messages, your sales reps can ensure your brand remains top-of-mind for buying decisions.
3. Social Media Is The Future Of Networking
A social media presence is now necessary for networking. In recent years, digital channels have replaced in-person networking events, like conferences and trade shows, as a primary channel for relationship building. Business leaders admit 28% of their customer base comes from networking, proving the necessity of social selling.
4. Social Selling Seamlessly Integrates With The Buyer's Journey
Social selling aligns seamlessly with the modern buyer's journey. By meeting your target audience where they are—on social media platforms—you become part of their decision-making process. This organic integration facilitates smoother transitions from awareness to consideration and, ultimately, to conversion.
5. Improves Sales Efficiency
Social selling helps sales professionals better understand the needs, wants and struggles of their prospective customers. By leveraging strategies such as social listening to join relevant discussions online, sales teams can tailor and personalize their sales approach to improve efficiency.
6. Low or No Cost Outreach
This is a budget-friendly boon for B2B brands seeking online expansion. It's not just about tweets and posts; it's about cost-effective charisma that transforms a modest investment into a maximal online reach, making your brand the talk of the virtual town.
Best Social Media Platforms For Social Selling
As much as 97% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for digital marketing, with 35% ranking it as their most important social media account. As a social platform designed specifically for professional networking, LinkedIn sets the stage for building the trust and authority required for social selling.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator plays a critical role in the success of LinkedIn as a social selling channel. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator provides insights and metrics on the performance of your LinkedIn profile, trending topics, discussions, and other interactions occurring in your industry. This information can then be used to create valuable content, or to single out and engage strong prospects.
Another great tactic that can be used on Linkedin is B2B influencer marketing. Create unique partnerships with influential leaders to help boost your brand.
Facebook is often overlooked by the B2B community, but did you know business decision-makers spend 74% more time on Facebook than any other demographic?
And don’t forget, Facebook groups are alive and well. Facebook groups provide a fantastic opportunity to “digitally mingle” with prospects.
Focus on establishing senior team members as thought leaders, rather than staunchly promoting new products, or dropping links into every discussion. Leveraging soft-selling tactics and playing the long-game is what social selling is all about!
Similar to Facebook, Instagram has long been neglected as a B2B marketing channel. However, Instagram's visual allure is a potent tool for B2B brands. Content marketers say images are the second most important piece of content they share, second only to video content.
By showcasing products, behind-the-scenes content, and industry events, businesses can humanize their brand, telling a compelling visual story that resonates with the audience and curating a unique brand identity.
X (Formerly Twitter)
Formerly Twitter, X provides real-time engagement and insights into industry trends. Its concise format of tweets enables businesses to join conversations, share timely updates, and establish an active presence in industry discussions.
X also presents a fantastic opportunity for social listening, through tools like X Lists. X Lists help you curate the X algorithm to prioritize posts from relevant individuals and groups.
With X Lists you can sort prospects based on:
- Job titles
- Existing connections
You may be surprised to see TikTok on my list for B2B sales, but trust me when I say it’s up and coming. Having gained immense traction for social selling in the B2C markets initially, Brafton reports it now has 61% of B2B marketers on the platform—and yes, they are seeing results.
According to that same report by Brafton, not only is TikTok great for expanding reach and boosting brand awareness, but 72% of the 61 respondents who use TikTok said they’re achieving the goals they initially set as a company. It's also a great platform to optimize content for social search, boosting results.
5 Strategies For Social Media Sales In 2024 And Beyond
Here are five strategies you want to add to your social selling toolkit as you plan for 2024.
1. Leverage Comment Automations And Chatbots
For social selling to work, your teams must be engaging with social users constantly, but to have team members dedicated to 24/7 engagement is time consuming, resource intensive and unrealistic.
Thankfully, engagement, particularly through comments on your social media posts, can be automated. Marketing automation software like Manychat allow you to automate two-way conversations in Instagram Direct Messages, Facebook Messenger and SMS, through automated triggers for certain words or phrases left on your social media content.
For example, let’s say you want to generate more newsletter sign-ups as a form of lead gen. Your marketing team creates a series of short-form videos, each with a call-to-action for social media users to comment “NEWSLETTER” to join your email list. The automation will trigger, and your newsletter sign-up link is sent through a direct message.
Comment automations like this open the door for social selling, thanks to:
- Immediate engagement with interested parties
- Establishing a private conversation with a potential customer
- Ensuring interest in your offerings (they requested this after all!)
- Transitioning social media viewers into your sales funnel
2. Focus On Demonstrating Value And Building Trust
The key to leveraging social media networks for B2B sales is to deliver quality content, provide value and move qualified leads into your sales funnel. The focus is to build relationships and establish authority – not incessantly promote your products.
In fact, 61% of decision-makers say thought leadership is much more effective at showcasing the benefits of a product or service, when compared to traditional product-focused marketing.
3. Use Social Listening Tools To Join Relevant Discussions
Remember: the goal of social selling is to leverage social media to identify prospects, maintain customer relationships and generate leads. In order to do that, you must understand what your target audience is engaging with on social media.
With the help of social listening tools, you not only enhance your brand's visibility but also gain valuable insights into ongoing conversations within your industry.
Here are a few examples of what you might learn with social listening:
- Competitor monitoring: Tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Agorapulse, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social enable you to track mentions of your competitors. This reveals a recent stream of customer feedback, offering insights into where they may have faltered and presenting opportunities for your brand to excel.
- Industry trend updates: Setting alerts from industry publications keeps you informed about daily trends and developments. Staying ahead of industry shifts positions your business as a proactive participant in relevant discussions.
- Brand hashtag tracking: Social listening tools help track hashtags associated with your brand, revealing important feedback, sales objections, preferences and more that can be harnessed in the sales process.
4. Showcase User-Generated Content
Let’s not forget about the power of social proof! As much as 92% of B2B buyers are influenced to make a purchase after reading a trusted review.
Encourage your audience to become advocates by showcasing their experiences. Find creative ways to share case studies, testimonials, or shared stories. User-generated content makes for great social media content and is 20% more influential in driving purchase decisions, as it not only provides social proof but also fosters a sense of community around your brand.
5. Turn To Micro-Influencers In Your Industry
While they don’t boast millions of followers, micro-influencers are the kings and queens of engagement, driving 60% higher campaign engagement than larger influencers. Their endorsements can significantly impact trust and credibility, reaching potential clients in a more targeted and authentic manner.
For example, a micro influencer in your industry can share their testimonial or review of your products on their social media profile. Meanwhile, your sales teams monitor comments and engagement for opportunities to answer questions, share information, and establish relationships with interested parties.
Bring Your Sales To Social!
The evidence is clear: social selling is not just a fleeting buzzword; it's a game-changing strategy for B2B sales in 2024. The shift from traditional approaches to the dynamic landscape of social media has proven to be a lucrative investment.
As businesses prioritize relationship-building over quick wins, engage customers in real-time, and seamlessly integrate with the buyer's journey, it's evident that social selling is not only a trend but a transformative force shaping the future of B2B sales.
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