Social Selling become an integral part of business strategy for companies both big and small in 2014, and it looks like the trend is going to continue into the future. According to a recent survey by Aberdeen, 72.6% of salespeople using Social Selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often. What happened this past year that made Social Selling such an important phenomenon?
Changes in the Buying and Selling Game
First of all, Social Selling has completely changed the way businesses connect and build relationships with people. Naturally, this also changed the buying cycle. A study by CEB found that 57% of the buying journey is done BEFORE a sales rep is involved. Buyers spend more time educating themselves about different brands before deciding on a purchase, and they do this mainly via search engines and, of course, social media. This means that companies have to meet buyers where they are, find out which platforms they use, develop relationships with key players within that audience, and become part of the conversation through thoughtful listening and stellar content distribution.
Another factor in social selling is the prevalence of great tools to help businesses leverage the power of social media. These are just a few of the powerful tools that help form your Social Selling strategy. According to Social Selling experts such as Amar Sheth and Jill Rowley, the following tools have become essential for sales reps in 2014:
Hootsuite is a free app that lets you manage multiple social media profiles and control your posts and what you view all in one convenient dashboard.
Nimble is a CRM that collects all of your contacts into one place and lets you see their social media updates. You can manage your pipeline, schedule tasks, monitor social feeds, and more, all in one convenient framework.
PostBeyond lets your whole team post approved content to a number of a company's social networks easily and in an organized fashion. It's ideal for helping sales teams use content that truly resonates with buyers.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
When LinkedIn released Sales Navigator, it noted that that 75 percent of B2B buyers use social media to research vendors, and three out of four buyers prefer vendors recommended by their network. To take advantage of this social marketplace, LinkedIn assembled the tools sales reps and marketers have requested most and integrated them into a single application. Sales Navigator can:
- Recommend specific leads based on criteria you select.
- Help you identify the key decision-makers (and socially surround) your accounts.
- Allow you to send InMail to anyone not in your network.
- Encourage those outside your network to contact you.
- Track account activity via targeted alerts.
Social Selling Techniques
The success of social selling has a lot to do with new tactics that have arisen in 2014. These include the ever-popular infographic, webinars, webcasts, viral videos, blogs, and case studies. Not only are these content formats are being used by social sellers, they have also taken on tasks usually performed by marketers, including actual content creation and distribution.
Training For Success
Training is the leading indicator of Social Selling ROI. That’s a big part of why Social Selling has become more effective, and why it is predicted to account for 50 percent of web sales in 2015. "At Sales for Life we have trained more than 45,000 sales professionals. This experience has led everyone -- from individual sales representatives to entire sales teams -- to dramatically increase their pipeline and revenue. On average, for every $1 a company invests into a sales professional for Social Selling training, that sales rep will make the company $5 within 180 days," explains Sales for Life Chief Sales Officer Kevin Thomas Tully.
Effective training can ensure that companies stay on top of their strategy, personal branding, and sales intelligence, and also know how to use the right tools and techniques to find and engage with the right audience.
The year 2015 will likely continue to see a rise in Social Selling, and companies should continue to gain a deeper understanding of it. 96% of sales professionals already use LinkedIn at least once a week and spend an average of six hours per week on the professional networking site. Content marketers will want to focus on creating more engaging content and content curation for that kind of audience. It will be especially important to measure the effectiveness of content and stay on top of lead nurturing. With continued training and analysis, implementing new social selling tactics and tools will help businesses become magnets for new prospects they’re trying to reach.