Social Selling, as a sales strategy, comes from companies beginning to understand the value and opportunity of social networks. Social media’s impact on commercial activity has become indisputable. Today almost half of all web traffic is on social media and they have gradually become an essential sales channel in B2B. Indeed, 50% of professional buyers attest to having already been influenced by a post on social networks when making a purchasing decision.
In this article, discover these 3 key points on how to:
- implement a successful Social Selling strategy
- convert your audience into prospects, your prospects into leads, your leads into customers
- turn your customers into ambassadors for the brand
What is Social Selling?
The Social Selling approach is based on the distribution of high value-added content. This content provokes an exchange, a first contact with the aim of triggering a commitment and a sale on social networks. Social networks generate new B2B opportunities that need to be exploited. According to a recent study by La Poste Business Solution, only 1 professional out of 10 has been encouraged by their management to use social networks in a professional context. According to Forbes, salespeople who are active on social networks are 20% more efficient. It is time for sales representatives to invest in social networks in their prospecting and sales activities!
However, just creating a social media account is not enough to generate business. You need to ensure a recurring presence by publishing quality content to capture the interest of your audience. The first step is to get to know this audience, or at least to know who the target audience is: the famous buyer persona.
On which channels do you find them? On which social networks are they particularly present? At what point in time? What are the obstacles and the problems they encounter on a daily basis, their customer “pain point”. What solutions do they have at their disposal for the moment? With all this information, you will be able to adapt the content to their specific level of maturity to accompany them throughout their purchasing decision. You will make sure they identify your product or service offering as the most relevant to their problem. This is the challenge of Social Selling.
How to generate visibility and detect opportunities in Social Selling?
Once your audience has been identified, you need to engage them by proposing interesting content. Today, content is at the center of web marketing strategies. Companies have become media generators that create content themselves and seek to make it visible, particularly through social networks. Recognizing the importance of the marketing department as editors and distributors of high-quality brand content again highlights what is at stake in Social Selling projects.
To capture attention, you need to offer quality content. Good content is content that doesn’t necessarily talk about yourself, your product and your brand, but rather about what you can solve as a problem. A targeted communication that will talk about the customer’s need and experience, it will have more impact than a mass communication entirely based on your service or product. Leads may be fewer but much more qualified, making your prospecting much more efficient. Don’t forget to respect SEO best practices. The content is the key to improving the referencing of your website. It is a matter of convincing both the prospect and the algorithms!
Once optimized for SEO, it is necessary to intelligently distribute the content on social networks, so as to be present when your audience is connected. You must be able to offer them the right information, at the right time and via the right channel. In this sense, the Social Selling approach is very close to an Inbound Marketing strategy. It implies an alignment between sales and marketing. What is the reason for this? Sales-people know the field, the customers and their problems. Marketing know the techniques and issues involved in creating brand content. Getting the two to work together is a key to success in a Social Selling project.
How can you accompany and convert your audience?
Once you’ve managed to attract their attention with value-added content and created an initial interaction, you need to nurture and convert. Nurturing means “nourishing” your prospect by being present at all three stages of his or her journey towards the act of buying:
- Attention: The prospect is looking for answers, resources, data, opinions, lessons. They have a problem or a need, sometimes unidentified and they do not yet know how to solve it.
- Consideration: They have identified their need and are undertaking further research into solutions that could meet it.
- Decision: They now know the different solutions, analyzed them and compared them for purchase. They look for the argument that will convince them – an opinion from their peers, for example.
In order to implement a successful Social Selling strategy, you need to have enough content that addresses each of these stages, distributed intelligently, to accompany the prospect throughout this funnel.
In this context, ensuring a recurring presence across social networks requires facilitating access and distribution of content to sales teams. Centralizing all the content you have is therefore the first essential step. This can be branded content, but also content from other sources. Curation of content can allow sales representatives to be present regularly on social networks. They can relay them, speak out on the subject, demonstrate their expertise and inspire confidence. For example, thanks to content coming from general media, your salespeople can become a reference point and expert on their sector of activity, to their community or network.
A successful Social Selling strategy also requires the implementation of automated monitoring to ensure that opportunities are not missed. For example, tracking key target accounts allows them to react at each entry point. Keeping up to date with your prospect’s news and new products makes it easier to create engagement. In addition, some tools allow you to add contact forms directly on shared content. Directly connected to Marketing Automation tools (Marketo, Hubspot, Webmecanik…) or a CRM, they offer an ideal link between the distribution of content, the capture of contact information and therefore the ROI of marketing actions.
This distribution strategy is refined over time. A content strategy is created through continuous improvement and is adjusted and refined according to the results obtained.
How is the ROI of a Social Selling strategy measured?
The high volume of communication channels makes it difficult to measure the ROI, return on investment, of one’s presence on social networks. However, there are several indicators for each stage of lead maturity, throughout the conversion tunnel that will transform the audience into a prospect, the prospect into a lead and the lead into a customer.
- Prospect: The effectiveness of content delivery is measured through organic reach. This is the number of times your publication has been seen or created a commitment. The various social networks offer statistics on this audience, or certain tools allow you to centralize all the data.
- MQL, Marketing Qualified Lead: At this stage, visitors have been converted. They filled out a contact form or downloaded a white paper which allowed you to get their contact information. The engagement rate is measured by the ratio with the previously reached audience. Then we calculate the cost per lead (CPL) – how much did it cost to get that lead (cost of content production, time spent, cost of tools used, sponsored posts…).
- SQL, Sales Qualified Lead: The lead showed significant interest in the product or service (asked for a product presentation, inquired about its price, etc.). The engagement rate is still measured compared to the previous step to evaluate the effectiveness of its conversion tunnel. Then, the length of the sales cycle is analyzed to predict how long it will take a lead to reach this stage of maturity in the future.
- Client: To measure the revenue ultimately generated by a customer, we calculate the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – how much will this customer earn for you over the lifetime of the customer. Then we calculate the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) on the basis of the previous indicators, which must be lower than the CLV for revenue to be generated.
It is essential to have a CRM to effectively measure the ROI of your presence on social networks. By knowing the number of leads that have reached the “MQL” stage, the average conversion rate between each state of maturity, the cost of customer acquisition and the length of the sales cycle, it will be possible to predict the potential revenue that will be generated and after how long.
From prospect to customer, from customer to ambassador
Social Selling is about being present enough on social networks to detect qualified lead opportunities. These leads have been transformed into customers, but you must not stop there. Thanks to social networks, a customer can themselves become a brand ambassador that generates opportunities.
Just like employees and partners, customers are an indirect sales force. Relying on this network allows you to reach an audience at least ten times larger than your brand (Cisco). To mobilize this sales force, you must give them the means to become an ambassador. The process will be the same as in Social Selling: offering easy access to all the brand’s content. Encourage sharing, highlighting customer case studies and content that provides real added value in identifying issues. We are talking about Employee Advocacy, Partner Advocacy and Customer Advocacy.
The important thing is to foster a “win-win” relationship. Additional visibility for partners, performance gains for sales representatives, commissions, exclusive information, or user clubs for customers… And a tenfold increase in strike success for brands that seize these opportunities!
You now have all the keys in hand to become a perfect Social Seller. These projects may be recent, but the networks are becoming more and more widespread and their use continues to grow. Brands need to be aware of this new challenge created by social networks, which also brings back the essence of the commercial transaction: a sale from Human to Human.
Would you like to learn more? Don’t hesitate to download our special Social Selling White Paper.