The verdict on social selling is in: It works.
While not even three years ago, marketing and sales organizations sought actual data to support the “hunch” that social selling techniques and practices were effective, the state of the advanced sales method is, well, on fire.
This assessment comes from “the source” — or LinkedIn’s Senior Manager of Social Marketing, Koka Sexton, who shared some serious scoop about the effectiveness of social selling during a webinar hosted by Demand Gen Report this week. The webinar titled “Adding Social Fuel To Demand Generation Programs” underscored the fact that, because buyers like to access content and information from their peers, there is a huge opportunity to cultivate more meaningful roles on channels where information exchange thrives (like LinkedIn and Twitter).
LinkedIn is, in all senses of the phrase, “Where it’s at,” as a vast majority (76%) of execs say they actively use the business social network to share content, according to Demand Gen Report’s B2B Buyer Behavior Survey. The webinar also highlighted real use case data that validates the impact that social selling techniques have on the bottom line.
InContact, a provider of workforce optimization and cloud contact center solutions, has seen astounding results by leveraging social media within demand gen and pipeline growth, including:
- 122% increase in revenue for sales reps using LinkedIn
- 157% increase in revenue for those sales reps using LinkedIn and Eloqua marketing automation combined
According to Demand Gen Report’s eBook titled “7 Ways Sales Professionals Drive Revenue With Social Selling,” becoming adept at social selling should be done in stages. Oracle Principal of Sales Enablement, Jill Rowley, has steadily built up her social selling practice over time. To get started, the eBook advises to focus on these areas: (1) Building your network on LinkedIn. (2) Identifying your prospects. (3) Engaging with them.
We at Eloqua have seen significant business be leveraging social selling techniques using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, including:
- Increased conversion rates of leads to opportunities by 25%
- Increased more than 15% of reps exceeding sales quotas
- Had average sales cycle time decrease of 20 days
While there’s still a great deal to be learned about more sophisticated relationship-building tactics by leveraging social media, a webinar attendee poll indicated that:
49% of those surveyed have done some social selling but don’t have a formal strategy, while 23% of respondents are actively leveraging social tools to establish more systematic processes for success.
“I think most companies are beginning to understand that social media and social selling has a place within marketing and the initiatives they should be doing,” Sexton noted. “They know it’s effective. They just don’t know what the strategy is and how the technology should be put into place.”
So how can your team get in the goldmine to start building more meaningful relationships, harnessing your connections, and establishing a rapport via your personal brand?
Here are 10 tips to get you rethinking what you know about social selling, and on the right track:
- To build your company’s page following, start running campaigns geared toward people already engaged your company to drive awareness and call to action to follow your LinkedIn page.
- Make your Twitter profile as professional as your LinkedIn profile. Use the same photo across your social networks so you’re easily identifiable, and make sure to link up to your LinkedIn profile in your Twitter bio.
- Don’t be afraid to get personal on Twitter. It’s a channel to share professional insight, as well as things that interest you outside your every day that support your personal brand.
- Get your employees in on the discussion. LinkedIn isn’t relegated to marketing and sales professionals — everyone in your organization should be a thought leader and establish personal brands.
- Stop thinking of LinkedIn InMail as a general email channel. Leverage the insights you can gather form profiles and other social networks to indicate that you’ve done research on the person you’re connecting with. For example, reference a blog post you’ve read by that person, or a presentation you viewed.
- “Who’s viewed your profile” is a goldmine for helping you make connections with people who already demonstrate an interest in your personal brand. Monitor these visits and send personalized emails from sales reps who manage that particular account with a link to their individual sales rep profile.
- Cross-reference your profile viewer’s names with your nurture functionality in marketing automation and establish parameters for when it’s appropriate to shift from nurture communication to a one-on-one dialogue.
- Be insights driven and gather intelligence and social information that helps you prepare for sales conversations.
- Leverage LinkedIn to create personas based on activity, groups they participate in and, topics of interest. Look for correlating behaviors and defining attributes that align with your target buyers to establish propensity to engage, and even buy.
- Demonstrate real value in groups by participating in discussions and sharing relevant content. Sexton suggests a “4 to 1 approach”, to share four update items about news in your industry, customer and partner networks, and one promotional item that supports your company news.