What Is Social Selling And Why Do You Need It?

By Ann Robb / On May.19.2016 / In / Width

Social Selling has become a bit of a buzzword in the last few years. However, it’s not just a passing fad and is one that we should learn about, understand and put into practice.

So what is social selling?

Social selling is about developing relationships as part of the sales process, social selling is simply the process of helping social buyers become customers.” It’s all about making new connections and sharing valuable content with potential buyers in your industry." Forbes

And how can LinkedIn help?

We now communicate more often than not, online. It’s a place that provides us with opportunities; therefore online social tools like LinkedIn can help start the process of social selling. It’s a one-stop shop for researching and identifying potential clients, raising awareness of your business and building your brand.

Furthermore, "LinkedIn data shows: sales professionals who use LinkedIn for social selling are 51% more likely to exceed their sales quota than sales professionals who don’t use LinkedIn for social selling” Melanie Dorado.  If you don’t adopt social selling, you’re going to be left behind.

Finding your audience

LinkedIn is a way to seek out potential customers and by getting involved in social selling you can reach them sooner rather than later. Jill Konrath, a sales keynote speaker and author said: “First off, if you get in early you can share ideas, insights and information that would help them achieve their objectives. This then positions you as a valuable resource – someone who is truly focused on their success. You’ll never be seen as just another self-serving salesperson.” It’s all about building relationships that promote trust first and foremost.

It’s not all about numbers and you need to find the right target audience, think about it as quality over quantity. Use tools like, advanced search, saved searches and ‘whose viewed my profile’ to find the right people.

Building relationships with your audience on LinkedIn is important because:

  • You can be more personal, build trust and have an open relationship
  • People tend to buy from people they know, like and trust
  • LinkedIn is a great way to nurture customer relationships.
  • If you build relationships here, then when it’s time to make a sales pitch they’ll be more open and ready to move offline.
  • It helps you to understand your prospective clients more, on both a personal and professional level.

Once you’ve found the right people then do your research and find out what they need and appreciate. Visit their profile and find out more about them. You can then use LinkedIn to open other communication channels, such as a phone call or a meeting, and use it to move on to the next step.

It’s all about building your personal brand

Much of social selling is about building your personal brand. You want potential customers to like and trust you, they should know who you are and social networks are a way to extend this reach, whilst building your reputation.

Your LinkedIn profile is a continuous introduction to prospects; they can always visit your page and find out a bit more about you, so you want to make sure that it creates the right impression. Never leave your profile incomplete and things like your headline can make a real difference. 

It is your personal brand that differentiates you from your competition. People can get to know you, to like you and this personal connection is now what’s looked for when it comes to sales.

Build your network and grow your connections

LinkedIn is a social community and is made for professionals to connect – so use it for this! Use it as a social tool to nurture and reach new customers, whilst growing your business.

  • Build strong relationships with prospective customers
  • Get to know your connections and understand their needs
  • If you build a good relationships this can lead to referrals or repeat business
  • Conduct searches to find your target audience and their influencers, as well as the key decision makers
  • Check your network and ask for introductions
  • Develop multiple relationships within the company
  • Relationships are valuable so be polite, open and welcoming
  • Connect with people you meet offline
  • Continue to build your company page

You should aim to build relationships with key decision-makers and influencers. Influencers are the people that can really affect buying decisions. They are the ones that can “help you navigate the organization, champion your product and facilitate introductions to important contacts”.

It’s all about having the right people in your network, building the right relationships, gaining valuable insights and reaching out at the right time. Cold-calling is finished and with a large network you have a ‘warm-lead’, leaving you more open to prospect sales.

Offer advice and engage with your audience

Using content in the right way can help you to grow your connections and build your reputation as a credible business person.

  • Give your target audience the content they want
  • Ask questions, comment and engage with them
  • Share relevant and informative information. Link outwith your business and also link to your own posts and website
  • You can’t just sell – you need to offer valuable content and advice
  • Once you’ve built up credibility then drop-in your company (only if it’s relevant) and then they may click-through
  • Build trust by showing that you understand their problems and want to help
  • Join Groups to stay-up-to-date with your industry, gain insight and engage with posts
  • Groups allow you to participate in conversations and become a source of information that buyers look to for guidance
  • The more active and helpful you are the more you’ll stay top-of-mind
  • Tell them new things and offer new advice

LinkedIn is a place where prospective clients talk about their needs and the challenges they face. So use this as a social channel to listen, respond and introduce yourself.

Show yourself to be an expert

Buyers will look for what is known as ‘social-proof’ before they purchase. They want help and support to validate their decisions, so they’ll speak to others and do their own research online. This is where you want to present yourself as a Thought Leader and an expert.

  • Stay on-top of trends, build your expertise and expand your knowledge
  • Remain fairly active, comment, engage and follow-up on conversations
  • Offer valuable advice and show that you’re part of the industry

You need to offer your network valuable advice and information. But, you can’t become a Thought Leader over night and this is something that you continuously need to work on. It’s important to build relationships based on expertise and what value you offer, then people will come to you as a Thought Leader.

Social Selling shouldn’t be ignored and should now be taken seriously as part of any sales strategy, so start building that network and make personal connections that matter.

To find out more attend one of my LinkedIn Workshops in Edinburgh or contact me for a 121 coaching session ann@the-marketing-mentor.com