As buyer's habits continue to change and shift due to overwhelming amounts of information and research tools available at their fingertips, sales departments are having to evolve in order to keep up. While many marketing departments have embraced with open arms the inbound marketing methodology, few sales teams are adjusting their sales strategies to match.
And this can be a real problem. Marketing and sales are so intertwined that one cannot change and evolve effectively without the other following suit.
One powerful way your sales team can start shifting the way it sells is through social selling.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling is a bit of an oxymoron. All selling is, at its heart, social. But today the term is typically interpreted to mean selling through a social media platform.
Through this method, the focus is providing valuable content, and connecting with individuals on a more personal level to (hopefully) seal the deal. Having a powerful social media presence can draw the right people to your sales team.
Why Does Social Selling Matter?
Before getting your sales team on board with social selling, you have to be able to demonstrate the value to them. Change is often a tough thing to implement, but when the benefits are clear and obvious, the transition becomes a little easier.
Allow the statistics to speak for themselves:
- 72.6% of salespeople using social media outperformed their sales peers who did not use social media.
- 75% of customers say they use social media as a part of the buying process.
- 40% of salespeople say they've closed between 2-5 deals as a result of social media.
- B2B marketers who use Twitter generate 2X as many leads as those that do not.
Basically, social selling is another tool your team can use to succeed and grow. In this day and age of new tools and advanced technology, it is important to learn to leverage all items available to you. And social media is a powerful way to build relationships.
Training Your Team for Social Selling
Once you get the buy-in you need from your sales team, and the other key members of your company's management, it is time to start training your team to be successful through social selling.
So, where do you start?
1. Optimize Social Profiles
Start with your company's social profiles to set the example. Ensure that you provide consistent information across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and beyond. This includes a link to your website, a brief description of your company, your office address, and other relevant contact information.
Once you have optimized your company profile, move on to your own, personal profiles as a way to provide an example of what you are expecting.
Focus on the following aspects:
- Profile Picture: Whether you decide to bring in a professional photographer and have head shots taken, or you allow your sales team to have a little more fun with their profile pictures, this decision is most likely going to be based on your company's culture. Avoid blurry pictures, group images, or inanimate objects.
- Headline: LinkedIn allows you to customize your headline description of yourself. Use some keywords that highlight your role in the company, but try to do so in an interesting way.
- Bio: Focus on being a problem solver. Some of the best advice is to write your biography like you would any blog post or piece of content on your website: focusing on your audience, not your own accomplishments. What problems do they have? Show how you have the qualifications to understand those problems, and solve them. You are a resource!
- Company: LinkedIn allows you to link to your Company page (another reason why it should be fully optimized), and is a great way to highlight your company's presence further.
- Website: If applicable, include a link to your business website. Twitter, Instagram, and even Facebook allow you to highlight an important URL on your profile, so do it!
Each social platform is different, so be sure to optimize each one according to the individual platform.
2. Stay Top of Mind
The best way to really stay in front of your audience, and position your sales team member's as thought leaders is by sharing relevant content. Focus on educating your audience about your industry, and other items that might be relevant to them.
Try these tips to educate your audience:
- Use the content your marketing department is creating to support your sales team. Content marketing is important for sales, but it is often overlooked. If your content isn't aligning with your sales team's needs, get together with your marketing department to align your goals and see if they can help support your content needs.
- Avoid sharing only your content by mixing in other relevant sources. Don't be overly promotional. Find other people's content that is education and useful, and share it with your followers. While it is easier to only share your company's content, if you want to create and grow a following, you must focus on education first, not promotion.
- Use the power of visual content. Eye catching images are a powerful way to get people to stop and look at your posts, no matter what platform you are on! Create your own graphics or use beautiful images to capture your audience's attention.
3. Connect with Class
Encourage your sales team to find new contacts through social media, as well as connecting with contacts they have been talking to in other channels.
On Twitter or similar social platforms, this is typically less awkward as most of the time accounts are public. You can also search for relevant accounts to connect with through hashtags or keywords in Twitter's search function.
On LinkedIn, it can be a little more difficult to initiate a relationship, especially if you may not have met in real life. Some ways to get around this include:
- Joining relevant groups and commenting on posts, or initiating questions. This is a great way to generate credibility, start conversations, and connect with the right people.
- Blog using the LinkedIn platform. This gives your content a wider reach within LinkedIn, and if you're super useful, people will be more likely to connect with you.
- Connect with people who have engaged with your content or your posts in forums, or even those who just viewed your profile.
If you are not utilizing the power of social selling, it is time to get on board. Using these basic strategies will get your team up to speed with this latest trend, and help grow your company's revenue.