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The ins and outs of social selling

According to the ‘State of B2B procurement’ study published by Accenture, nearly 94% of B2B buyers conduct some form of online research before making a purchase. Another study by IDC found that nearly 75% of B2B buyers are influenced by social media in one form or the other. Not surprising then that a survey of nearly 45,000 sales reps found that the ROI on every $1 invested in social selling was close to $5.

Like it is with regular sales, social selling too can be either inbound or outbound. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook provide brands with an opportunity to be seen by prospective buyers.The leads captured through these platforms are inbound. At the same time, sales reps can find their target buyers on these platforms and reach out to them proactively with their value offering. Such leads are outbound.

Figuring the right social selling approach for your business can make a difference to the ROI you generate with this strategy.

Inbound, Outbound or both?

What strategy is good for your business depends on your resource availability and prevalent customer acquisition strategy. A lot of B2B businesses today adopt a marketing-first approach that focus on SEO, content marketing and social media to bring prospective customers into their marketing funnel.

The challenge that these organizations face is with the length of their buyer cycle. Marketing is a “slow and steady” process that requires nurturing over a considerable period of time. Such organizations can adopt an inbound social selling strategy to convert these prospects faster.

This is how it works. The marketing team in your organization makes use of high impact curation tools to produce targeted content for your social media channels.  This helps you build a targeted following on your social media channels. Traditionally, these followers are nurtured over time to convert into paying customers. With inbound social selling, you will have sales reps reach out to these followers and engage with them in an attempt to accelerate the buying process.

Success with this approach requires meticulous attention to where your customers are and producing content tailored to them. Using the right hashtags can be critical on several social media platforms like Instagram where users have the option to follow specific hashtags specific to their interests. You can produce the right hashtags for your content using this hashtag generator tool.

Outbound social selling, on the other hand, relies on proactive engagement with targeted followers on social media channels and directing them to your sales funnel. Outbound social selling relies heavily on engagement marketing where sales reps establish a connection with a target user over social media channels, engage with them and add value to their discussions. This helps in building a rapport that can translate into sales.

This is popular among organizations with a sales-first approach. However, if your organization has a sizeable sales and marketing team, it is a good idea to invest in both these strategies and see what fits your offering better.

Integrating social selling to regular sales

For successful social selling, it needs to be tightly integrated with your regular sales strategy. This is especially a challenge for outbound sales where sales reps are used to working their leads out of their sales engagement platform. Expecting your reps to perform a part of their prospecting outside their CRM or sales engagement platform can be inefficient. For this purpose, choose a sales engagement tool that automatically pulls up a prospect’s social media profile within its dashboard. This makes it easy for the sales rep to establish an omni-channel outreach that is more effective when it comes to nurturing and sales.

Social selling is a modern spin on traditional sales where a prospect’s behavioral attributes are much more transparent to the seller. This makes it a highly effective medium since sales reps can personalize their outreach for every prospect. This increases your engagement and conversion and is the reason why this strategy is gaining so much ground.

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