Social networks are only for marketing? Mistake! When reaching out to potential customers, business networks such as LinkedIn or Xing are also becoming increasingly important for sales. Learn more about the do’s and don’ts of social selling here.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling means using corporate social media channels to build and grow relationships with customers. Online personal profiles are used to find potential customers, connect with them and build trusting relationships. The aim is to establish close contacts, create added value and achieve sales targets.
What is the difference between social media marketing and social selling?
While social media marketing is all about producing high-quality content and attracting the attention of new leads, social selling focuses on targeted identification of people who might be interested in your own offerings. The emphasis is on the personal relationship with the person concerned and the interpersonal contact. Any information you can find online about your target audience can be helpful in better understanding and ultimately persuading your prospects.
A Comparison of Traditional Selling and Social Selling
“Hello, my name is Meier from Huber. Can I speak to Mr. Müller, please?
“I’m sorry, he’s in a meeting…not at his desk…at the table…on a business trip…on vacation.”
If you’re in sales, you know these answers. And you also know it: reaching decision-makers by telephone has always been a challenge. Moreover, the channels through which we communicate with each other in working life are also changing with increasing digitization. This makes it even more difficult to find the right contact person, especially when first contacting business customers.
|Traditional sales||Social selling|
|buy leads||Leaders in the digital networks themselves
|Send bulk emails||Convince with relevant content|
|Telephone canvassing||On contact business networks
Classic cold calling will continue to have some justification in sales. But experts agree: When it comes to acquiring new customers, the future increasingly belongs to social selling. Everything revolves around initiating business transactions and maintaining contacts in social networks. LinkedIn and Xing are particularly targeted. Today, many decision makers are easily found there and are only a click away.
Benefits of Social Selling
- With social selling, you are location independent and not dependent on physical events or trade fairs. Social platforms offer you a good alternative to meet people targeted and personalized
- The acquisition of new customers is generally associated with high investments. On the other hand, you can reach out to customers via social media even with limited resources. you can there free act and rapidly become active.
- Business networks are also increasingly successful for companies: employees are still spending more time in business networks like Xing or LinkedIn. Take advantage of this development and meet potential business partners online.
- Filter functions and profile descriptions help you to selection for appropriate contacts. This allows you to identify potential customers with needs and find the right target group for your offer.
- Thanks to social selling, you have the possibility of attracting prospects to help you with your buying decision and building trust during the decision-making process.
- Right now there is a real one cultural sharing. More than ever, companies are discussing current issues. Participate in these discussions with valuable contributions and you (and your company) will have a positive memory.
- You can use online discussions and technical documents as a source for trends and developments use, benefit from advice yourself and perhaps place your product or service at the right time.
Why is social selling important?
Social selling has been a trend in B2B communication for several years. No wonder: after all, according to Forrester Research, 60% of all decisions in B2B commerce today have already been made before you are even contacted as a supplier.
It is all the more important for your sales department to be present online with relevant information and attentive to customer issues in the decision-making phase. Added to this is the need to map a well-thought-out customer journey online in order to reach your potential customers exactly where they are in the decision-making process. In B2B business in particular, it is important to support and influence long decision cycles in a targeted manner.
Interaction with the CRM system you use also plays an important role in social selling. With an integration of appropriate fields for leads generated on corporate networks, you ensure that you always have an overview of the origin of your contacts and can track the performance of your online communication in a targeted manner. .
Social Selling Risks
The key question in social selling is: how do you get in touch with decision makers on LinkedIn or Xing? If you’re sending impersonally worded direct messages, that’s not very promising. Submitting a networking request for no reason is not necessarily effective, but spam. If the potential contact does not accept this request because they do not know you, the opportunity is lost for the moment. Therefore, you need to rely on proven ways to score points with potential new contacts.
Success factors for successful social selling
These six proven success factors in sales on LinkedIn and Co.:
- Meaningful profile description: Potential customers are looking for solutions to their problems. The description of the profile and the title on LinkedIn or Xing therefore act as a digital elevator pitch for the salesperson. Both elements must clearly express the added value of contact with this person for the profile visitor.
- References from satisfied customers: Take the opportunity to ask your customers for an opinion. Preferably immediately after a successful collaboration. Tip: Provide your contact with a written proposal in advance. This saves work and increases the chances that the recommendation will quickly be visible on your profile. Unfortunately, only LinkedIn currently offers this option.
- Compelling content: Regularly publish something interesting for your target group(s). The content does not have to come from your company. Current industry news or relevant content that someone in your network has shared is also conceivable. Give your own appreciation and create added value.
- openness to dialogue: In business networks, liking, sharing or commenting on other people’s posts is considered good manners. Your activities are obviously rewarded by the networks algorithm. Take time each day to check for updates from others and take action yourself.
- Profile photo of a professional: Selfies, party photos or holiday snaps? Please don’t. The same goes for the profile picture in the corporate network: there are no second chances for a first impression. Use a recent image taken by a photographer that shows what you are representing. This investment pays off.
- Inquire first, then contact: According to LinkedIn, for 42% of decision makers, trust is the most important argument for a deal. For only 18%, the price is the decisive factor. Online, that trust can only be earned with relevant content, in-depth knowledge of the potential customer, and appropriate behavior. Company decision makers assume that salespeople research companies before engaging in dialogue with them. The more information you have about your counterpart, the better you can meet their needs and build trust.
Conclusion: From social selling to sales success
With the advance of digitalization, it is worth using new means of communication, investing time in social selling and reaching out to potential customers in new ways. With a professional profile and compelling content, you are well on your way as a “social marketer”. You will notice this at the latest when the potential customer approaches YOU and sends you a message: “Hello Mr. Meier. I have read your interesting article on Xing. Could you contact me about this?”