What is Social Selling?

 In the digital age, business practices are changing rapidly. While direct marketing is increasingly criticized, social networks and inbound marketing open the door to new forms of sales and communication.

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Among these innovative approaches, we find social selling: social networks at the service of business prospecting. We explain what it is and how it works.

The definition of Social Selling

Social selling is both a communication tool and a sales prospecting technique. It is not strictly speaking designed to sell a product or service. It is actually a question of attracting the attention of future customers (lead generation) and supporting them in their decision to make a purchase, thanks to social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

A social selling strategy works through a set of techniques, such as inbound marketing or personal branding. The first allows in particular to capture the attention of the prospect thanks to the creation of content.

The second consists of building one's personal image on social networks, around values, skills and added value. This image reflects, in general, that of the company, but using the real “specificities” of each stakeholder.

Although also used in B2C, this technique has particularly proven itself with the B2B public. So much so that in 2013, LinkedIn offered companies an offer designed around social selling and created an index that allows you to measure your influence on the social network, as well as your ability to promote your solution there.

Why do social selling?

With the arrival of digital and the expansion of Google, the link between the salesperson and the buyer has evolved somewhat. Today the consumer no longer has to wait for the seller to come knocking on his door to find out about a product or service and its characteristics.

He will directly look for the information he needs on the internet, thanks to search engines. He compares the solutions available to him (in terms of technical characteristics and price), makes his own opinion, before finally making the purchase.

Social Selling puts the seller back at the heart of prospecting and gives him a certain “power” over the buyer, through the publication of relevant content.

It thus allows the salesperson to position himself as an expert on the product or service and to support the buyer in his reflection process. So much so that in 2018, 55% of professionals admit to having been influenced in their purchasing decision by an article or post published on social networks.

Social Selling also makes it possible to reach two categories of people: those who do not yet know your offer and those who already know you and who are interested in your offer because it responds to their problem.

How to set up a Social Selling strategy?

However, we see that companies, B2B in particular, are not “equipped” well enough to implement an effective social selling strategy. Many SMEs and VSEs see social networks as a personal space and do not sufficiently train their teams in marketing use.

Nevertheless, a few simple steps can help you adopt a Social Selling approach.

Work on your social profiles

Each member of your sales team will have to refine their profile, keeping in mind that you will have to position yourself as an expert and not as a “business seeker to conclude”. Thus, on LinkedIn for example, the idea is not to create an online CV, but to show that you are the right person to answer the questions of your target.

The idea through this approach being, indirectly, to personify the company, it is essential that each commercial profile has: a photo, a precise and catchy title, a short summary of the expertise and seller journey, as well as content that reinforces your credibility (website, presentation, video, etc.).

On the “professional experience” side, only mention the experiences that consolidate your expertise. It is not necessary to detail all the missions on the position, but describe the position in one or two lines.

Identify your prospects

This is about taking advantage of the source of information that is social networks. It is then necessary to create standard profiles for each of your targets (personae): age (approximate), diplomas, city of residence and work, sector of activity, company, position held in the company, etc. Then, it is necessary to identify on social networks, in this case LinkedIn, the profiles that are closest to these "personae", therefore likely to be interested in your offer.

The connection

The connection can be made in several ways:

- Referral Selling: on LinkedIn, it is possible to get in touch with your prospect via the recommendation of a person you already have in your network. For example, you have identified a prospect whose problems can be solved by your product or service. You have a relationship with this person in common on LinkedIn, you can ask the latter to recommend you to your prospect.

- Trigger Selling: this involves using the information available on a profile that will allow you to get in touch with the prospect, already knowing their needs. This allows you to initiate the relationship by presenting concrete solutions.

- Insight Selling: this method of connecting mainly concerns people who do not know you yet. The goal here is to get in touch through content creation and “speaking up” (reacting to other content, leaving comments, etc.) on social networks. By reading you, the person can realize that you are the person who can answer their problem and thus solicit you.

The creation of content and the dissemination of qualified information

The idea here is to create content directly related to your expertise or to relay content that will support it. These can be content in accordance with your policy, or content that will allow you to denounce practices or problems. For this, you can use content curation tools like Feedly or Paper.li.

To conclude, in social selling, there is “social”. Do not hesitate to interact with your network, to comment on their publications and to maintain relations with your partners, in order to strengthen your presence.

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