Intelligently merging social selling and marketing activities

As social selling becomes a popular sales concept, more and more sales channels are finding their way onto social networks. To successfully implement this strategy, social selling and marketing must be closely harmonized with one another.

Successful tandem: upgrading social selling with marketing support.
Image: © NDABCREATIVITY / Adobe Stock
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Social selling is increasingly replacing conventional offline sales channels

In a digital world where consumer expectations, behavior, and habits are drastically changing, digital sales concepts are playing an ever-greater role when it comes to successful as well as sustainable business. It’s not without reason that social selling already occupies an important place in the sales mix and is increasingly overtaking conventional sales measures such as cold calls, direct marketing, and buying leads.

While traditional sales methods are often time-consuming as well as resource-intensive and are becoming less and less effective, social selling not only enables you to reach your target group efficiently and directly for the purpose of acquiring customers, but also foster relationships with relevant contacts on a long-term basis.

A focus on quality over quantity

However, social selling doesn’t just differ from the conventional methods from a sales channel standpoint, it also adopts a completely new approach that takes into account the unique nature of social networks as a customer acquisition tool in a much better way. For example, while traditional sales measures focus on quantity and the creation of needs when addressing potential customers, social selling is about solution-driven one-to-one communication that aims to form strong bonds.

In light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the topic of social selling is being significantly boosted and becoming even more relevant. This is highlighted by a LinkedIn survey conducted as part of its “State of Sales Report 2020”, according to which 70 percent of sales professionals are making customer retention a higher priority in the current situation. When it comes to such a “warm approach”, social networking sites are the ideal platform for nurturing contacts, identifying their needs, and positioning yourself as a problem-solver.

Using social selling to acquire high-quality leads

It is precisely that bond between customers and your company that cannot be achieved through cold outreach, for example, which explains why the quality of leads and thus success rates often remain minimal when that method is used. In contrast, generating high-quality leads through personalized and multidimensional communication is at the core of social selling measures.

On social networks, you are literally only a mouse click away from lots of potential customers and decision-makers who have already shown that they are interested in your company by liking or commenting on your posts. Through trust-based relationship management, in which you act as a “trusted advisor”, the goal is to address the needs and problems of your contacts at the right time and in turn attract interest in your company and its services and solutions on a deeper level.

Our free e-book contains useful tips and valuable information on how to establish social selling in your company.

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Social selling and marketing: avoiding a mishmash of responsibilities

For social media relationship management to give rise to effective sales activities, you have to wisely integrate your social selling plan into your business processes. A seamless interplay between sales and marketing is key here:

Especially at the start of the purchasing decision process, social selling measures are important for building the target group’s affinity and trust. Traditionally, this would tend to be the marketing team’s responsibility. More often than not though, sales employees play an active operational role in social selling. Which means that marketing and sales have to work together closely to develop joint social selling strategies. The marketing department is often responsible for preparing the content, while the sales team focuses on implementation. It is important to avoid a silo mentality here, and instead ensure that findings and results are actively shared along with the next steps derived from them.

– Robin Heintze, Founder and Managing Partner of the online marketing agency morefire

Robin Heintze, Founder and Managing Partner of the online marketing agency morefire

A holistic approach to sales and marketing

Such team play requires a corresponding, digital mindset within your company and a harmonious concept that defines the responsibilities of the teams and neatly coordinates the processes and measures for acquiring leads. Importantly, a holistic approach and professional concept ensure that the sales and marketing teams do not encroach upon each other’s responsibilities, while also actively avoiding undesirable gaps at the various touchpoints of the customer journey:

“A big mistake that a lot of companies could make would be to turn social selling into the next internal silo with its own infrastructure and control procedures. Social selling – and social commerce in a broader sense – should instead be seen as an integral part of the entire customer journey. Regardless of whether customers ultimately seal a deal there, these activities can inspire them, e.g. through interactivity, to continue their potential purchase on another sales channel. This is where marketing and sales especially need to work hand in hand rather than arguing over who is responsible for what.”

– Manuel König, Co-Founder & Managing Director of the social commerce agency

Manuel König, Co-Founder & Managing Director of the social commerce agency

Creating synergy effects for social selling via marketing

Another advantage of coordination: by intermeshing social selling and marketing, you can harness huge added value from a sales perspective. Maybe your company has already built up an active brand community thanks to social media marketing and you can engage with it more intensively to expand marketing campaigns and generate high-quality leads?

Whether guest contributions, specialist articles, blog posts, or whitepapers – publishing suitable content is a key success factor in the social selling process, since it allows you to build your reputation among potential customers and gain their trust. Accordingly, content marketing should also be closely intertwined in order to

  • be able to utilize high-value content,
  • define the direction of the content to be produced based on identified customer needs, and
  • ensure the quality of the content as well as a common communication thread.

Content is proving to be an increasingly relevant success factor because social media has become the main source of information for the majority of buyers.

Almost two-thirds of all purchasing decisions are influenced by social media.

(Source: PwC – Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019)

By fostering relationships on social networking sites on a personalized basis and posting relevant content, you can thus have an active impact on how potential customers perceive your company and boost both its online presence and brand credibility.

Social selling training is a must!

The effectiveness of your social selling plan greatly depends on how qualified your team is. Since social selling pursues its very own approach, the role of product seller is slightly redundant. What’s required are subject-specific experts and customer advisors who have strong networking skills and are also well versed in using social monitoring tools. Many sales reps first have to shift their thinking and familiarize themselves with the intricacies of social selling. Regular training sessions are a must in order for them to effectively leverage the opportunities of the digital sales approach, especially if social selling is not yet deeply rooted in the company’s DNA.

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