In today’s digital economy, many progressive sales and marketing leaders know that social selling provides a serious advantage to those who use it. Without it, your business development team will generate fewer leads, close fewer deals, and struggle to make new contacts.
Why is that? Social media is what your clients are using for research when making purchasing decisions.
According to a study of B2B buyers by Harvard Business Review, 53% of buyers turn to social media for assessing tools and technologies and when making a final selection. If that’s not enough data, consider that B2B buyers often have already made a decision by the time they reach out to you or your company to make a purchase. And according to IDC, 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level/vice president (VP) executives surveyed use social media to make those purchasing decisions.
This presents a major opportunity for your business development team to influence those buyers. By mastering social selling strategies, your team can get in front of more buyers, generating more sales opportunities and influencing their decisions. In fact, LinkedIn has found that social sellers are more successful than their peers, finding that:
- Social sellers generate 45% more sales opportunities
- Social sellers are 51% more likely to reach their quota
- 78% of social sellers outsell their colleagues
Because social selling is imperative for influencing buyers during the research and decision making stage, you’ll need a few tools to help you maximize your social media selling efforts. Below, you can find our favorite social selling tools as well as how each one can help you power up your sales pipeline.
1. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Imagine you’re going to start a social selling initiative at your organization. You communicate to the team that this is an important tactic for moving buyers through the buyer journey, but then you get asked the dreaded question, “which buyers am I reaching out to?”
It’s a great question, and one that often gets asked when launching social selling programs. The theory behind the tactic is great, but you are often left to wonder “how can I target prospects outside of my network over social media” and “how can I identify potential buyers?”
With more than 546 million professionals in more than 200 countries and a wealth of first-party data, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a powerful tool that allows you to identify and target your priority prospects and share custom content with them to generate powerful leads. Using the data from its 546 million users, you can search for leads and prospective companies based on size, location, job title, interests, skills, and more. After performing a few lead searches, the tool will recommend leads based on what you’re looking for (see below), making it easy to identify leads that live beyond your personal network.
And before you start to wonder if LinkedIn and your CRM will house different leads, LinkedIn Sales Navigator integrates with CRMs so your new leads and their activity will save to your existing CRM system.
Chances are that your organization is already on social media. And chances are that you have a personal social media profile as well. But while you already have and manage those two networks, how much do you know about the people who follow you? Do you know who they are? What they engage with? How many followers they have themselves? And then there are the networks of your competitors. What types of followers do they have?
Followerwonk can answer those burning questions and more. For example, it can help you:
- Discover deeper insight into your Twitter analytics (e.g. best time to tweet)
- See which tweets engage your followers the most
- Search Twitter bios to find prospects in any industry
- Compare your account to competitors or industry experts
- Unfollow users that aren’t following you
By utilizing Followerwonk’s features, you can better understand your audience on social media and how to engage them, as well as discover new prospects based on the content they’re sharing, who they follow, and more. With this information, your business development team can customize their approach for sharing content over social media, nurturing more leads in the process.
Let’s say that you didn’t know that a key prospect in your pipeline was on social media. Or, you suspect that they are, but aren’t sure where they’re most active. To find out which social network is your best bet, you would need to do a lot of digging through their social platforms and profiles to try and nail down the right one.
360Social is a free chrome plugin for researching prospects that allows you to see an individual’s social activity across 140 social media platforms. Once the plugin is installed, you can see which channels your prospects or contacts are most active on with the click of a mouse (shown below in red). Instead of wondering where your key prospect lives online, with 360Social you can find, follow, and engage with them in an instant.
But what if 360Social tells you that your prospect isn’t on social? Or, they are, but you don’t have an account on that platform?
If your customers or prospects aren’t active on social media, you’ll know that you might need to resort to more traditional channels of communication like email or a phone call. By knowing the channels of communication that your prospect is most likely to respond to, you have a better chance of reaching them, and thus adding them to your pipeline.
Without regular, insightful posts, your followers may look to others (maybe even your competitors) for helpful content. Posting regularly to your social channels will also help boost your brand awareness as not everyone is on social media at the same time — more posts will be seen by more people.
To help you stay on track, Hootsuite is a great tool for powering up your presence on multiple social media channels. As a social media management tool, Hootsuite makes publishing on any social channel easy by allowing you to schedule posts at optimum times with their handy auto scheduler and allows managers to queue up posts for different channels all from one easy-to-use interface. This helps you post consistently to your networks so prospects and client can see that you’re active on social and post thoughtful content regularly.
You can also set up automated keyword or brand search alerts that aggregate content in a queue for you to review. This can come in handy for keeping an eye on what your competitors are posting. In addition, you can get a good feel for popular hashtags to use within your industry, helping draw people to your posts.
Today, 84% of buyers start the buying process with a referral. It’s earning those referrals that can prove challenging for any organization. But if you think about it, six degrees of separation are all that’s standing between you and your prospective clients. You’re more connected with prospects than you realize, but you don’t always have the tools to help you mine meaningful relationship intelligence. With so many layers separating the two of you, though, how can you find those common connections?
This is where social selling and relationship intelligence tools like Introhive really shine. Introhive automatically identifies the relationships between your employees, your clients, and prospect accounts. Once all of your relationships have been identified and scored, Introhive then analyzes the network for common connections that your business development team can leverage using traditional communications or social media. Imagine the power of being able to see who in your organization has a strong relationship with a prospect you’re pursuing? Wouldn’t that warm introduction go a long way?
Introhive makes this process easy and allows your team to gain warm introductions to unfamiliar, but key prospects that help accelerate the sales cycle. Plus, this all happens inside of your CRM system, saving you and your team from having to log into yet another tool to enter more data.
Already on this list, we included a lot of tools designed at helping you find, understand, and engage with the right targets. But what are you supposed to engage them with? Knowing which content to share and how to share it is another critical component to social selling. If your business development team fails to share helpful or relevant content, your audience isn’t going to be listening.
If you need to help your team find relevant content to publish on their social channels, rFactr is the perfect place to go. And it integrates with your CRM. Essentially, rFactr will help your team share the right content, at the right time, with the right person. Thanks to the tools analytics features, your team can see which pieces of content drive the most engagement and which pieces of content have led to closed deals (and those that don’t). Armed with this information, your team can customize their approach, sharing optimized content at certain stages of the buyer journey.
Social Selling is the New Must-Have Skillset
Social selling is a must-have skill for today’s best business development teams as studies show that the most successful business development teams are using it regularly. Not only does it help you make new connections but it can help you deepen the ones you have by enabling you to have genuine conversations online without any pressure to buy for your prospect.
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