There is a lot of buzz lately about social selling. But what is social selling, and can it work? We recently conducted a webcast where Jill Rowley from Eloqua shared with us the benefits of social selling and how to get started in this new approach to sales. To begin, what is social selling? First, it is using social media in sales. Next, it involves using social media tools to collaborate as a team to engage with an active prospect. Finally, it is the sharing of ideas across multiple social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. The goal is to be recognized as a thought leader and to gain the trust of current and potential clients who will look to you to fill future purchasing needs.
So why is this important? As noted in the recent Harvard Business Review article, “Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy”, “more than 90% of C-level executives said they ‘never’ respond to cold calls or e-mail blasts,” but sales people are seeing a high rate of response to social media. Additionally, by monitoring social media channels, the customer may in fact “start” the conversation via a complaint or observation they’ve posted online, which a salesperson responds to. Thus, by focusing on social media, a salesperson can spend more time working on warm leads and less on unfruitful cold calls.
So, as sales trainers, how do we get our teams started? As a best practice, look to the Rule of Five: that is, share your content across five social media channels. This can be done simply, by reblogging or retweeting a content piece or “liking” something on Facebook. You can also suggest that your teams take it a step further by adding their thoughts or voice to the content before sharing. The transition from no social selling to sharing across up to five channels may be a bit daunting, so to start, eachsalesperson create a strong LinkedIn profile and keep it up to date. Finally, have them join LinkedIn groups where their potential buyers are members, and encourage them to contribute to conversations to build your organization’s brand awareness and capability. It may be hard to convince a salesperson to “not sell” when they have a quota to meet, but the unofficial rules of social selling say that you should expect to give without seeing an immediate return. All it takes is one deal found via social channels to convince your teams to shift their efforts from cold calling to social selling. The benefits are huge—and a bit more fun!