Before discussing social selling, it is important to remember that that term is not a synonym for social media marketing. It is in fact a strategy which involves sales staff building direct interaction with prospective clients, while not only answering their questions but also offering them published content until that potential client feels ready to make a purchase.
By adapting this method of social media use, sales staff can cater to the needs of prospective clients without interrupting their working day with cold calls. Thanks to this approach, companies and professionals can build closer relationships with potential clients via less invasive methods compared for example to those commonly used in the nineties.
From cold calling to social selling
The above-mentioned cold calling has for many years formed the cornerstone of sales techniques. Nowadays, as shown by the statistics, this approach is no longer efficient. Several university studies have analysed the results of thousands of phone calls of this type and found that over 70% of call recipients refuse to continue the conversation. By using social media to establish some points of contact before beginning the conversation (aimed at sales), the situation is very different. The mere mention of a shared group on a professional network is enough to increase the chance of obtaining an appointment significantly.
In order to get the best results from this approach, it is essential to adopt a style which emphasises listening and communication. Some relevant examples could be certain multinationals who have encouraged their staff to open personal blogs and use social networks to discuss innovative new developments in whichever field is relevant to that particular company.
This way of working has led in some cases to an increase in sales of as much as 400%. The reason behind these figures and the success of social selling is quite straightforward and is linked to the fact that potential clients prefer to ‘speak’ with someone they already know rather than interact with a person they have never heard of.
During the social interaction that precedes the actual sales call, the buyer has the opportunity to form an idea of who the person contacting him about the product is and what he or she does. Thanks to the content published on social networks, prospective purchasers are able to work out if the person on the other end of the phone will in fact be able to provide the right help and support.
In order to clarify just how important it has become to embrace social selling and abandon invasive sales techniques, we should bear in mind that 3 out 4 buyers in the Business 2 Business sector use social media, with a strong preference for networks specifically aimed at business professionals.
Unfortunately, company sales teams are not always up to speed in this area. Reliable international research has in fact shown how, on average, only one in four sales staff know how to use social platforms effectively. So there is still a lot of work to be done and it must be based on the following four cornerstones.
- The creation of professional and well-constructed social profiles
- Targeted networking activities (a key example is transferring from Human to Human networks to Business to Business)
- The publication of high quality content
- Greater professional and decision-making synergy between the marketing and sales departments of the company.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith