How Social Selling Can Improve Your Lead Generation
I won’t need a cute infographic list to spell this out. The most important question any salesperson needs to answer is always, “How can I generate more leads?”
Cold Calls Are Not the Answer
By now, you have probably realized that cold calling is no longer the answer. You have a hard time getting past the front desk, let alone setting up a meeting or presentation with a prospect. If you are lucky enough to speak directly to the person you need to be talking to, they may not want to hear what you have to say anyway.
According to InsideView, more than 90% of executives never respond to (or buy) from cold calls, with even more stark numbers leading to actually scheduling a meeting.
With such bleak numbers, the obvious next question is, “Well, if cold calling is dead, how can I create more leads?” The answer: combining everything you know about sales with the beautiful beast that is social media. This is also known as “social selling”.
What Is Social Selling?
Social selling is making use of the endless amounts of information on social media to prospect and target the RIGHT customers. You can add value to the service or product you are selling by sharing helpful content, answering questions, and responding to comments online. The new age of sales is all about being helpful and aligns perfectly with the most successful form of online marketing since 2006, inbound marketing. Coincidence? I think not.
Consumers Are Now the Experts
The internet has empowered the buyer in the sales process. Online research has allowed every buyer to feel like an expert on the products & services they are buying.
Accenture’s State of Sales Procurement Study found that 94% of B2B buyers do online research before making a purchase for their business. Now you might be asking where your buyers are finding their research. What platforms are they using to find this information?
The answer is right in front of you. It is social media.
Research by IDC has found that;
- 91% of B2B buyers are active and involved in social media
- 84% of senior executives use social media to support purchase decisions
- 75% of buyers are significantly influenced by social media
What Does This Mean for Salespeople Like You?
This has created a serious change in the buyer’s journey. Instead of telling your prospects why you are better than your competitor, add value by being helpful in the early stages of the buyer’s journey. This means talking less about yourself, and more about how the buyer can improve his or her business. It is all about educating your prospect to make a better decision.
Use the Buyer’s Journey to Capture Your Customer
What is this “buyer’s journey?” you may be asking. You know there is a large amount of time that you spend before actually making a purchase. This time is split into three stages of the buyer’s journey, which include: awareness, consideration, and decision. You can learn more about the buyer’s journey here.
We call this educational strategy the inbound methodology. It probably reminds you of “the give and get”. If you want to build trust with prospects and establish yourself as the best in the business, then you must be able to post educational and helpful content. We call this becoming a “thought leader” in your industry. The consumer seeks value in your content. Give the consumer something that makes their life easier and gives them clarity in their buyer’s journey. This can be information you found through research. The info can include, but is not limited to: analytics reports, research reports, ebooks, white papers, & educational content.
How Does Inbound Marketing Differ from Traditional Marketing?
This sales strategy looks very different compared to the old sales model of cold calling and qualifying leads. The new model is focused on using social media (and all the networks that come with it) to reach new prospects, educate them on how to improve their company, and nurture them with consistently valuable content throughout all three stages of the buyer’s journey.
Make Sure Your Great Content Is Distributed!
The value of the content you post is obviously crucial for building trust and keeping the consumer wanting more, but another big part of the equation is engagement. Content, done well, can create engagement on its own, but you also need to prompt engagement. Posts with more comments and shares will reach a larger audience online. So never shy away from asking for questions, answers, opinions and more!
You may be thinking that social media users are not the decision makers you need to be speaking to in the businesses you are targeting. Think again, because a 2014 study by Milward Brown digital and Google found that 46% of decision makers are now between the ages of 18 and 34. This is up from 27% back in 2012, which is, by far, the largest social media user demographic out there.
The facts don’t lie. Salespeople who utilize social selling with social networks to educate, help, and engage prospects sell more than their counterparts. Below is a cheat sheet you can use with five easy ways to sell using social media.