Secrets to Successful Social Selling
If you’re like many solution providers, you’ve invested some time and money over the last couple of years to increase your social media presence. You’re Tweeting, you’re liking, favorite-ing, commenting and posting. But are you “selling” through social?
There’s a big difference between creating and sharing content with your followers and turning those social efforts into actual revenue. But there’s plenty of opportunity for both. Following last month’s look at how to develop your personal brand, let’s look at how to turn that social activity and content into cash.
What Is Social Selling?
My colleague at SAP Jim Fields recently wrote that social selling, at its most basic, is using social networks to establish and further relationships with people who are likely to buy your products or services. This includes new and repeat customers, influencers and decision-makers.
But that doesn’t mean bombarding their Twitter feeds with straight sales pitches on your product. Your social content and activities should establish you as a credible source of information, advice and opinion. It should help to summarize your prospects’ challenges and concerns, address their business problems and then help them solve them.
Buyers in B2B, just like consumers, naturally seek out recommendations, research and reviews. It’s like when you buy a new car or large appliance: You Google, compare, read reviews, ask friends. By the time you’re done, you pretty much know what you want, how much you need to invest, and what it will take to get it.
The business world isn’t any different. Analysts estimate that anywhere between 55% to 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a customer ever talks to a sales rep. They read up, watch videos, engage in website “chats,” and try online demos. They ask for opinions, too. What’s the best software for this particular challenge? How is this vendor’s customer service?
That’s where your social selling and sharing content comes in. If you’ve successfully developed your personal brand, customers will have confidence and trust in what you say. You want them to think, “Hey, this guy/gal really knows something about my issues, partners with his customers and isn’t just out to beat a quota.”
If you consistently feed useful information to current and potential customers, you’ll be a big part of that early 55% to 70% of their buyer’s journey. And you may not even realize it. When customers come to you to learn what their best options are, and you help them make the best decision for their business, that’s success.
Warm Leads Can Heat Up with Social
Let your content do your work for you. Triblio last year published “23 Shocking Social Selling Stats,” which breaks down the importance of social selling so well that you’ll want to go out and start a Twitter account if you don’t already have one.
Among the findings: A “warm referral,” often originating through social content, increases the odds of a sales success 2x to 4x. In fact, 84% of B2B decision makers rely on warm referrals for the majority of their decision making. That’s because people trust people they know.
Think about your own home. Do you hire just any electrician to fix your central air on a hot summer day? Not until you have asked your friends if they know someone. Maybe they don’t, but a friend of theirs was just raving about a guy they used. Voila: You have just used a social network to make your buying decision.
In a competitive landscape, your ability to leverage your social content and contacts into warm leads can mean the difference between winning and losing a customer. And, as you see from some of the statistics, warm leads can easily turn hot with high-quality and consistent social efforts.
Ira Simon is vice president, Partner Marketing & Communications, at SAP. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly and are part of The VAR Guy’s annual platinum sponsorship.
Learn more about partnership opportunities at: http://www.sap.com/partners/.