If you were to look over at your sales team now, what would you see? What would you hear? Would you be met with a wall of chatter from colleagues oozing confidence, or a slightly unfamiliar silence and the faint sounds of keyboard tapping?
The two approaches to the sales process that I have described above are fairly similar, but one is more likely to score a better close-rate than the other. I’m talking about the sales technique that more and more teams across the world are adopting – Social Selling.
What Is Social Selling?
Put simply, social selling is the practice of successfully using social media to engage with your prospects, and it’s one of the major growing trends of 2015.
Just take a look at the graph below taken from Google Trends, showing the search term “social selling”’s steady rise in search traffic since 2007.
As you’ll see from the increase, sales teams are getting to grips with the shift from traditional methods of selling, such as being on the phone from the minute they arrive to the moment they leave, to more thoughtful and strategic planning, all leading up to the all-important first contact.
Google Trends: Social Selling
Why Social Selling?
We’ve talked about what social selling is, but why would you want to introduce it to your sales team and get them to enthusiastically take on this new approach? The statistics on the many benefits of social selling speak for themselves:
69% of sales executives believe that the buyer process is changing faster than organisations are responding to it.
10.8% of social sellers have closed 5 or more deals attributed to social media.
The benefits of social selling are plentiful – increased productivity, a shorter and more targeted sales cycle, calls become warm and welcoming as opposed to cold and uninviting, and most of all, sales people are able to create more meaningful relationships with prospects, utilising highly specific content that provides real value.
Is Your Sales Team Ready for Social Selling?
Now, we know the issue. Your sales teams are natural speakers – being on the phone is second nature to them. Adding the complexity and diversity of social media channels into the mix can send a few people into a panic.
It’s not enough to know which social media channels to utilise in order to source potential leads. Sales people must know the tactics and techniques in order to become integrated into industry conversations and to provide solutions to the problems of their potential clients and customers.
Here are a few things that your sales team can do to ease the process:
Take 10-15 minutes out of your day to participate in LinkedIn Group discussions, to get an idea of the conversations they are having.
Offer prospects exclusive content that is catered to their industry.
Give them something that YOUR OWN competitors can’t.
Four Tools to Simplify Social Selling
On the subject of building relationships with potential prospects, LinkedIn Connected is a sophisticated standalone app that allows sales professionals to arm themselves with the most relevant and up-to-date information regarding those within their network.
The app sends alerts users of new events in their network, such as job changes and birthdays, providing users with timely and relevant opportunities to interact with their network. David Brubacher, product manager at LinkedIn explained the reason behind the creation of LinkedIn Connected: "We know you'd love to reach out and catch up with everyone in your network over coffee, but that isn't always possible."
"Connected gives you relevant, and timely, reasons to reach out and keep in touch with the people in your network."
Discoverly is an absolutely fantastic tool which allows sales teams to turn cold calls into warm conversations by finding contacts you share connections with.
Discoverly will list your contacts’ social profiles, provide you with a list of mutual friends, and offer you a quick way to view recent tweets. This will enable sales teams to learn more about their prospects’ digital footprints, and what kinds of conversations they are having, so you can strike up conversations that are more relevant to their interests.
Another powerful tool from the team at LinkedIn, the Sales Navigator helps sales teams find the right prospects, save leads and follow updates on individual prospects with the intent of making that first introduction as warm as possible.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator has a ton of fantastic features that allow you to focus on the right prospects, receive informed insights and build trusted relationships.
We were most impressed by the SSI (Social Selling Index) Dashboard, which tells you how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights and building relationships.
53% of salespeople want help in understanding social selling better. Those that keep learning never get left behind, which brings us to our last tool – Lynda. Here you’ll find lots of fantastic video tutorials to help your sales team get up to speed with the art of social selling. Here are some of our favourite tutorials from Lynda: