We are all used to social media marketing. Fan pages, advertisements, brand communication – it’s already our bread and butter.
However, this is not the end of possibilities to reach the target group. Social media channels can also be used to interact directly with customers, for example, when they are looking for recommendations or information about products or services.
This is exactly what social selling is about.
Facebook is a recommendation tool
Think about how many times you found a post written by a friend or acquaintance asking for advice on choosing a camera, holiday destination or a wedding filmmaker. Or maybe they were looking for a contact person in a company that could provide a service for them.
Probably many times, because today the search for good solutions is not limited to entering a few keywords in Google and browsing the results.
Today’s customer – or rather prosumer – is cleverer than that. He compares many offers, searches for data from multiple sources but mostly, he trusts his friends.
In this respect, little has changed. People have always trusted the recommendations of those around them or those whom they consider an authority. However, let us get back to social media.
You think it doesn’t work in B2B? You could not be more wrong! According to the HubSpot research, 74% of customers rely on Internet research when choosing a service provider or contractor.
The true challenge is to reach a potential customer before others do or just when they are looking for services or products like yours. This can be done not only through search engine advertising but also through a proactive approach to sales in social media.
Social selling vs. Internet monitoring
Instead of passively waiting for the client to find our fan page and write to us (or trying to reach him with aggressive advertising), you can use tools for Internet monitoring.
Internet monitoring – like Brand24 or Sentione – works by searching online for places where people write using specific keywords defined by you.
Let’s assume it was your company’s name. Thanks to Internet monitoring you will learn that someone shared their opinion on the subject on Facebook, Twitter, in a comment on a blog or on YouTube. You can monitor mentions of you on more or less popular websites and in other places you wouldn’t normally reach or simply are not aware of. Very useful!
In the context of social selling, Internet monitoring is used in a very specific way. You may, for instance, define the following keywords:
- the names of the specific products or services. Whenever someone mentions your brand, you can start talking to them. Maybe this person is looking for an opinion or an attractive offer? Think about what you can offer such a person.
- phrases indicating that someone is in a shopping mode. If a Facebook user publishes a status like “which advertising agency from the region do you recommend” or “a recommended camera up to PLN 3000…”, then you know that they are looking for you. Just think about what phrases people might use if they are thinking about buying products or services from companies similar to yours and start monitoring the relevant keywords.
Social selling vs. content
Actions based on Internet monitoring are very direct in nature. Meanwhile, in social selling there is also room for soft actions, for example, based on content and knowledge sharing.
Does it pay off? Absolutely! According to LinkedIn, 92% of buyers and B2B decision makers interact with the content published by people (e.g. salespeople) who are considered to be experts in their field.
Therefore, one of the best indirect sales methods you can adopt is to publish content that is relevant to your target group.
The channel you use is just a matter of choice and the preferences of the recipients. It can be LinkedIn or Facebook but also Twitter, which works well in many industries, such as IT or sports.
You can also strengthen your personal brand as an expert (because this is partly what we are talking about here) by commenting on other people’s content. The advantage of this type of solution is that you mark your presence in places where your group is already active and do not need to look for methods to bring it to you first.
Facebook groups, subject forums, blogs, and finally profiles of famous people in the industry – there are many places where you can be present.
The power of personalization
One of the main challenges of social selling is the high frequency of interactions with potential customers while avoiding a mass approach.
What do we mean by this? Personalization. If you identify a person with whom you want to establish a relationship (with the help of Internet monitoring but also e.g. through a private message on LinkedIn) and send them a template message, you will not achieve anything. You’ll only annoy the recipient, who, let’s face it, probably gets a lot of this kind of spam.
So each time you should take your time and find a way to approach a person individually. There are several available methods.
Do you want to make contact and show that you know who you are talking to? Follow this person’s profile and refer to what they have recently published (for example, ask about a project they boasted about).
Would you like to offer your services? Don’t start by listing what great things you can do, but take a closer look at the customer’s side and suggest, for example, one thing you’d like to change or implement.
One conclusion can be drawn from the two above examples: get to the point and you will be appreciated. Personalization is not about using a name in a message but about proving that you have taken the time to think about what you are offering, towhom and why.
As you can see, social selling is a very broad topic. Let’s treat it more as a way of thinking about social media activities from the point of view of a salesperson’s work than ready-made recipes that can be replicated in any business. Regardless of the definition, this is the direction to take.