Traditional skills, new rules…
Social selling is a term we hear more and more often when talking about social media and B2B. Being able to sell through social media is becoming THE NEXT BIG THING for several of our clients’ sales teams. So what can marketing departments do to support this new trend?
What is social selling?
Jill Rowley – who has been supporting the Oracle sales team’s transformation to social selling – has shared Eloqua’s introduction to social selling techniques:
There’s a lot of social selling wisdom flying around the internet. But, trite as it may sound, one of my favourites is: ‘Social doesn’t sell. People do’. This rather simple truth summarises what social selling really is. It’s all about people, trust and relationship. Your social media account, like events, phone and email, is only a tool you use to find and communicate with others. Or the old-school, but not yet forgotten, fax machine.
If you’re trying to improve your sales performance, then you need to understand how this social tool can help you to hit your targets. Essentially, there are two main things you need to be good at: listening and interacting. It may be a new context, but these are pretty traditional sales skills…
Know your customers
Approaching prospect clients is never an easy task, whether you’re a marketer or a salesperson. It takes lots of ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ and a few ‘disruptive ideas’ to get the right person at the right time. It gets even more challenging if you’re trying to target the C-level.
In our November S&M Forum we discussed the power of the personal touch when approaching prospects and how social media can help you to create it. Think about their online profiles. What social media platforms do they use? Are they active? If yes, what do they talk about? What issues do they mention? What connections do they have? Again, it may be a new context but these are pretty traditional questions for sales to ask…
You should take the time to really understand your prospects and create messages which are relevant to the person you’re talking to. This approach can take you far. If would like to read more on this subject, have a look at our blog from the last S&M Forum.
Social selling as a two way street
If you think about marketing tactics like DMs or even email campaigns, they are often very one-way focused. You then need to pick up the phone and make the next step to establish the relationship with your prospect.
Social media is all about two way interaction and making connections from an early stage. If you’re a good listener, you can respond to your prospects in real time. Start the conversation and keep it going. (There are some good examples of social selling conversations on Twitter here.) Just remember to be useful, relevant and engaging. Like traditional sales networking, don’t think about it only as a quick sale. Social is about conversations and nurturing relationships.
Marketing’s role supporting social selling: the right foundations
Apart from good listening and interacting, salespeople need tools to successfully sell on social media. And this is when marketing and sales can work as a team:
- The marketing department should create shareable and relevant content that the sales team can promote via social channels. This includes blog posts, expert videos, graphics, humour etc.
- The content should be hosted and shared via corporate profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, SlideShare, corporate blogs…) for employees to access and share. We should also be using the corporate accounts to amplify and interact with employees (especially in their early days on social media).
- Sharing and interacting on social media can be confusing even for seasoned users. It’s important that the marketing department provides tools, advice and on-going support. This can include anything from basic training and guidelines through to recommended lists of influencers/prospects.
- Successful social selling comes with strong social media profiles. Salespeople need to remember that their LinkedIn and/or Twitter accounts act as their business card. There’s a lot that marketing teams can do to help salespeople get the basics right.
- All of the above should create the platform that salespeople can use to create sales opportunities. Which can be further supported by marketing monitoring and sharing potential opportunities to interact.
More on social selling
We’re so excited about social selling that @MattDHarper is going to put together some tips on how to be a social selling superhero. Stay tuned! In the meantime, for some social media tips, you can visit our B2B Social Media showcase on LinkedIn.