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Social Selling: The New Cold Call

This blog is part of the How to Monitor Social Media in 10 Minutes a Day eBook download. 

Sales and marketing have always been about developing relationships. The relationship begins with creating a product or service that solves a buyer’s problem and adds value. Beyond that, great salespeople know how to develop relationships with customers and prospects in order to stay top of mind with them and gain access.

But, the sales process is changing and the methods salespeople utilize to find and interact with B2B customers and prospects are evolving, too. This is primarily driven by a major shift in the way buyers shop for products and services. Today’s empowered B2B buyer is conducting research online in the awareness and consideration phases of the buyer’s journey. In addition, they are less likely to speak with a salesperson that, in many cases, doesn’t add any value to their research. And, it may be too early in their buying process to discuss company details and offers. Savvy salespeople, too, are dialing into social selling and reporting up to 72% better performance than those that haven’t. That’s where social selling comes into play.

Buyer's Journey HubSpot Marketing Inbound 

Social selling involves using social media to monitor and engage with customers and prospects. Here’s how salespeople are using social media:

Identify qualified prospects

  • It’s one thing to identify companies that appear to be prospects based on their industry, but it’s another to identify qualified prospects that are searching for products and services. Almost everybody engages in social media with some combination of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This is especially true with Gen X and Millennial buyers. Monitoring companies and the appropriate contacts will usually unearth triggers like events, pain points, and searches.

Develop relationships

  • Social selling has its roots in the inbound marketing methodology of being helpful. There are many conversations that take place on LinkedIn groups and other industry-related platforms. Joining an industry group and using your expertise to contribute is a great way to raise awareness and develop relationships. Mark W. Schaefer, author of The Tao of Twitter, claims that the majority of his business is derived from relationships forged on Twitter. Commenting on blogs and Facebook posts, liking and sharing Twitter posts, and contributing to group discussions are all important steps in beginning to develop relationships.

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Deliver value

  • The key to differentiating and building lasting relationships is to deliver value. Showing up for conversations on social media and offering solid feedback and content can set you apart from the competition and build trust. Doing so will naturally open the door to connecting with qualified prospects and nurturing qualified leads.

Monitor the competition

  • Your good competitors are sure to be active on social media. There are many benefits to monitoring their conversations.
  • Stay up to date with any product or service changes or additions that they’ll probably announce to the world.
  • Find prospects by following their posts to see who interacts and which topics they’re interested in.
  • Check out their salespeople on LinkedIn and see who their contacts are and what groups they belong to.

It is possible to be in sales and not be active on social media. But, “the times, they are a changin”, as Bob Dylan sang, and social selling makes sense in today’s marketplace for two reasons; B2B buyers are researching online and using social media to connect and learn, and salespeople have the ability to monitor social media and often determine where people are in the buyer’s journey. Realizing where buyers are in their journey and offering useful information to them leads to more meaningful relationships, and fewer cold calls.

Monitoring social media daily is a must for salespeople embracing inbound sales and social selling. It can be time consuming, but devoting a modest amount of time to it every day is a good way to start. In addition, there are many 3rd party social media platforms that allow you to automatically monitor streams that include key words and hashtags, for example, like Hootsuite and Hubspot. This saves time and allows you to go directly to the relevant contacts and conversations.

To learn more about the buyer’s journey and social selling, HubSpot offers a great Inbound Sales video training class and certification. It’s free!

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Topics: social media