Modern social selling isn’t complex, and (mostly) doesn’t require any specialised skills. However, it does require a different way of thinking about the sales process.
Recent reports indicate that only one in four sales reps knows how to integrate social media into their sales process, yet 61 percent of organisations engaged in social selling report a positive impact on revenue growth.
The upside of this skills gap? For the more forward-thinking sales professional, there are huge advantages in getting into social selling today. CRM integration with LinkedIn and other social platforms is dramatically increasing the effectiveness of salespeople by tapping into their professional networks and relationships, enabling users to engage more fully with their prospects and customers.
The stats speak for themselves:
- Nearly 79 percent of salespeople who use social media to sell outperform those who don’t (Forbes).
- Some 98 percent of reps with 5,000 or more LinkedIn contacts reach or surpass their sales quotas, versus 52 percent of those who have fewer than 250 contacts (The Sales Benchmark Index).
- A lead developed via social media is seven times more likely to close (IBM).
- Organisations using social selling have seen a 10 to 20 percent increase in win rate, a 20 to 30 percent acceleration in cycle time and a 10 to 15 percent increase in revenue (KISSMetrics).
LinkedIn is one of the major social networks and, for business, it is arguably the social network. It can help sales professionals to laser-target prospects. How you interact on this powerful networking channel really can make a difference to your sales growth, but it is not about pushing product and sales messages. Social selling is all about nurturing relationships, learning who your prospective customers are and their frustrations and pain points. It is then about sharing information, content and, in some cases, offering direct help to resolve those issues.
Using social networks to establish a dialogue with prospects in this way is vital. Building connections and relationships that establish trust are key to being at the forefront of the buyer’s mind at the appropriate time. The interactions can also be two-way. You can respond to comments made by those in your network rather than just reaching out to target them. For example, if you are a service technology vendor you may see someone comment that they are having issues with their own system. Rather than just push your solution to them, you can start a discussion about what is going wrong with their own one, focusing on how to solve the issue. This again will put you at the front of their mind when they eventually look to switch or purchase new technology.
The stats and results are clear. Sales professionals who want to gain real competitive advantage need to fully embrace the success that social selling will bring and to switch from hard sell to a more friendly and nurturing approach.