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Six tips for developing an effective social selling strategy

Generate valuable leads from social networking sites – social selling makes it possible.
Image: © Evernine Group

Potential of social selling still far from being fully harnessed

The world of marketing and sales is evolving rapidly. This not only applies to new digital channels that are overtaking traditional customer acquisition measures, but particularly also to the expectations, behavior and habits of consumers. Time is money, and people’s attention span is becoming shorter: nowadays, if you don’t respond rapidly to inquiries and obvious customer interest and integrate them into your sales process, you will lose out on valuable contacts and quickly lag behind more agile competitors.

“The topics of social business and especially social selling are still being neglected by many companies and digital agencies. However, great opportunities await here, since the development of digital sales channels is today more important than ever.”

Hannes Beierlein, CCO and founder of the Evernine Group

Social selling as the key to sales success

In light of this, social networking sites are becoming an increasingly important marketplace – both for digital offerings and traditional services. The key to success here is social selling, which involves the practical use of social media to

  • find the right prospective buyers and gather information in a targeted manner,
  • make contact with the prospective buyers,
  • understand their needs, and
  • manage them as contacts on an ongoing basis in order to form trustful relationships with long-term added value.

We have joined forces with Evernine, a consulting and full-service agency, to provide you with six tips on how you can significantly increase your sales output and make your marketing campaigns last longer.

Tip #1: Social engagement leads should be viewed as a valuable resource

As already described, interactions between prospective customers and sellers are happening more and more on social networking sites. For many traditionally structured marketers and sales teams, these contacts are difficult to identify, largely due to incomplete data. As a result, they fall through the cracks and their potential is wasted. It is therefore important to first recognize the value that such social engagement leads (SELs) have for your company.

A social engagement lead (SEL) is any contact who has shown an interest in or appreciation of your company on social media, for example through likes, comments, or shared content.

To convert the value of SELs into measurable success for your company, your sales team has to embrace a new approach and find a workable social selling strategy in which the social engagement leads are developed further and qualified for processing.

Tip #2: Integrate social engagement leads into your sales funnel

There are a range of options available for integrating SELs into your sales funnel as part of your social selling strategy. For example, digital campaigns can be supported by identifying and personally approaching social engagement leads. A simple example in this context would be the suggestion to download a whitepaper during a joint dialogue. Another possibility would be to generate additional SELs on social networking sites using cold calling (explained in more detail in tip #3).

Tip #3: Achieve success with a multilayered strategy

Whether to support marketing campaigns or for cold calling, however you use social selling for your company, you need a multilayered strategy when engaging with SELs:

The social selling process initially focuses on identifying prospective customers on social media and differentiating them with an eye to specifically targeting and engaging with them in as multidimensional a way as possible. For example, what industry and line of business are they from? Are there mutual contacts or interests that could be used to start up a conversation? What are the obvious pain points of the target company? Do you already have specific solution scenarios that you could offer for these, or is a warm-up phase needed first?

In the social selling process, an appropriate emphasis should therefore be placed on the monitoring phase, as it makes a personalized targeting strategy possible in the first place. Tools such as the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Boardreader and HowSociable serve as valuable aids for social media monitoring. The LinkedIn Sales Navigator, for example, allows you to quickly identify target accounts and people, monitor them conveniently, and store them easily for later processing in compliance with data privacy and protection regulations. Leads and information should ideally be gathered in a central location that is accessible to all team members.

The trust building phase is all about making a professional impression. In this phase, interesting, informative, and regularly updated social media profiles are just as important as a consistent presence across all relevant profiles. Practical tip: Interaction with third-party content is an effective way of increasing your own reach and building relationships.

By identifying potential customers, monitoring social media, and building trust, you create the basis to meaningfully extend and prolong your sales activities through social selling measures. From making initial contact and providing further content and high-quality assets right through to the sales team’s assignment process, social selling can support the various phases of your digital sales approach, for example through

  • Actively addressing customers from the targeting pool
  • Regularly posting content
  • Actively participating in forums and panels
  • Digitally interacting with events
  • Continuously expanding your own network (e.g. by joining and interacting in relevant social media groups)
  • Identifying relevant decision-makers
  • Providing information on further campaign-related content and calls to action
  • Delivering personalized content to customers
  • Upgrading traditional marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to sales-qualified leads (SQLs)

Tip #4: Make social selling measurable

Both for accompanying campaigns and for cold calling, soft KPIs can be developed very easily to measure the success of actions, allow comparability, and identify scope for optimization.

Examples:

  • What percentage of companies react (positively) to your communication?
  • How much time does it take to generate a certain number of leads?
  • How long is the timeframe required to turn a social engagement lead into a marketing-qualified lead?

Tip #5: Position yourself as a trusted advisor

The success of social selling is determined by your presence as a trusted advisor who picks up on the interest of the people concerned and, where possible, makes reference to the situation in the customer’s company. To do this, it is essential to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Important note: The individual goals of your contact person rather than those of his or her employer should be the focus of your personal communication. This can be accomplished by

  • drawing attention to non-binding digital offerings from your company, which are available in the form of landing pages, for example,
  • addressing any concerns, and
  • avoiding putting too much pressure on your dialogue partner.

Tip #6: Social selling should be adopted as a mindset within your company

“When done right, social selling can really boost your digital sales activities and, with the correct approach and communication, can lead to success even in the short term. However, to be successful in the long term as well, you must create a corresponding digital mindset within both your sales team and marketing team,” explains Beierlein. The CCO of Evernine recommends several best practices for implementing this:

  • Identify suitable channels in which you want to be active and that are a good fit for your product.
  • Turn the involved employees into digital experts in this field and ensure that they have a professional profile.
  • Employee motivation: create reward models and incentives for achieving set goals.
  • Knowledge is power: social monitoring will give you the information you need to engage with the relevant SELs in a targeted manner. The more useful knowledge you compile in advance, the better you will be able to steer subsequent interactions in the desired direction.
Daniel Dodt
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