Social Media Can Power Your Sales Pipeline

Recent surveys have shown the positive return on investment (ROI) of social media for sales teams. Our own data has shown that sales teams selling through their own personal social channels can outperform selling efforts through corporate-owned social channels by three times on LinkedIn and by 12 times on Twitter.

Jim Keenan conducted a study showing that 78 percent of salespeople using social media outsell their peers, but why? What are the common trends between salespeople who are able to utilize social media as a sales tool? How can social media allow you to connect deeper with your prospects, understand their business pains, and generate more qualified leads?

Think about which industries have been successfully introducing social media platforms into their toolkits. Advertising, marketing, and customer support are the obvious choices and probably the first that come to mind. These industries are active on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook because of the potential reach, one-to-one relationships, and customer insights that are available. So if that’s the case, it’s not hard to make the connection between social media and the sales process. Sales is driven by the connections made and information exchanged by buyers and sellers, things that social media has proven to be highly effective at facilitating.

Social selling is simply the integration of social networking into the sales process. Social media is an additional tool that sales people have at their disposal to help them connect with customers and close deals. Successful salespeople who introduce social media into their toolkit use it to network, answer customer inquiries, and provide value for prospective customers who are actively seeking for more information on the respective industry or product they are offering.

How Does Social Selling Help Generate Leads?
Buyers are consistently going to social networks and the Internet to research any products they have an interest in purchasing. Whether you are a B2B or B2C brand, potential buyers are looking for you online. How many times have you logged into LinkedIn to see that an anonymous user has viewed your profile? For the most part, buyers have the luxury of stealth and anonymity when searching for and accessing information on products they have interest in. So it’s important for salespeople to stay visible on social media so they can become a resource for potential buyers, because they are doing their research. Buyers have access to a wealth of information and aren’t as susceptible to marketing messages as they were in the past. Reviews, recommendations, and general sentiment are more important than ever.

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How Do You Apply Social Media Into The Sales Process?
Social media is inherently about building relationships and establishing a presence. Twitter is not the forum to cold pitch. However, the networking potential and the ability to understand a prospective customer’s pain points is where much of the value lies in social media as a sales tool. Listening on social media is one of the most powerful tactics in a social selling strategy. Monitor for popular hashtags and keywords that are relevant to your industry or brand to find insights but also see what is being said about your competitors. When you can offer value to the conversation as opposed to a hard sell, you will have a better chance of gaining the trust of potential customers. With more than 1.19 billion active monthly users on Facebook and 232 million active monthly users on Twitter, there’s an ample amount of leads to be nurtured.

What Tactics Can You Use
Social networks exist to provide entertainment, information, and connections. Sales people need to take this into consideration when augmenting their strategy with social. While an outright cold pitch will very likely be ineffective, social networks can provide sales people with real-time buyer interests. If there is a conversation trending within your industry and potential customers, join in to offer meaningful commentary and interact with these buyers. Listening for these opportunities and finding out the pain points your customers are having will give sales people a feel for the conversation and allow them to add value.

When it comes to being visible and interacting with the community, utilizing customer advocacy and employee advocacy to ensure your current customers and employees are talking about the business across their social networks will also increase brand awareness. Again, buyers are actively looking for what is being said about the company and it’s important to have advocates who can talk positively. Encourage the sharing of content, company milestones, and general news. Become a resource for buyers looking for industry knowledge. And when it’s time for them to make a purchase, they will come to you.

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