With 75 percent of B2B buyers being influenced by information found on social media and 67 percent of them relying on peer recommendations when making a final purchasing decision, social media has become a key channel for salespeople to find buyers and engage with them.65 percent of salespeople who use social selling fill their pipeline compared to 47 percent of those who don’t. Nicolas Vanhove, founder of BIGGER Stronger, shares key best practices for building a successful social selling strategy:
Hi Nicolas, can you explain why social selling should be a top priority for salespeople?
Companies, especially B2B companies, should implement social selling tactics to create new sales opportunities. LinkedIn is a great channel for publishing professional content and engaging with leads but it’s not the only channel that salespeople should be using. There are various channels your salesforce can use depending on the industry.
Employees, including salespeople, want to increase their visibility and leadership on social media. But being active on social media is not enough, they have to publish the right content and to use the right keywords to attract leads. Creating and publishing relevant content is crucial for them!
What are the biggest challenges in social selling?
One big challenge is to stand out on social media: with all the content being published every day, it is extremely difficult to increase our visibility. I think that only experts who find a niche related to their expertise, who manage to build a relevant content strategy, as well as manage to grow their professional network will stand out on social media.
Another important point to mention is that salespeople need to adapt their social selling strategy to their leads’ habits on social media. For example, HubSpot has increased their online reputation and visibility in Singapore by publishing content that is relevant to their leads and by using the same social media channels their target audience is using.
What are your top 3 advice for building a successful social selling strategy?
Sales Managers should showcase their expertise on social media to find new leads, have meaningful discussions with them and ultimately close new deals.
Here are my 3 top advice to build an effective social selling strategy:
1. Find your niche!
Rather than publishing content related to several fields of expertise, salespeople should find a specific niche related to their main expertise. The goal is not to imitate others’ content strategies by sharing content related to the current trends but to instead develop a unique content strategy. I’d recommend building a content strategy based on one field of expertise rather than on five or six. Keep in mind what Steve Jobs used to say: “less is more”.
2. Don’t be shy!
If you want to be successful in your social selling strategy, you need to publish relevant and informative content on social media. Remember to be active on several channels: publish content on social media and try to become an online magazine contributor or a guest blogger!
Another way to build a great social selling strategy is by asking your network to contribute to your own content strategy. An example that comes to my mind is Crème de la crème: they invite their clients to contribute to their own inbound marketing strategy. In terms of content, podcasts, videos and tutorials, this work pretty well!
You have to be careful when it comes to your editorial line: as explained earlier, don’t try to cover all the topics you may be interested in but instead, build your content strategy around your top expertise.
3. Find out the social media channels most used by your target audience!
Salespeople have to be strategic on social media to find new leads and have engaging discussions with them. To do so, they need to target their audience. Then, it’s important to do research to find out on which channels their audience is the most active. They also need to go through their posts and their activities on those channels to understand their content strategy.
To engage with their audience, salespeople will need to customize their own content strategy to attract their audience’s attention. They’ll need to use the same channels and to publish informative and relevant content on those channels.
Again, I don’t think that LinkedIn is the only channel B2B salespeople can use to close deals, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are other channels such as other social media platforms and blogs that can help them converting leads into clients.
I think that in addition to this, B2B salespeople can apply Inbound Marketing tactics to stand out on social media. A good example of an inbound marketing strategy that can be used by B2B professionals is the one developed by The Family: they share engaging videos which are related to one another so they can generate even more engagement.
Should companies help salespeople develop their personal brand on social media?
I think it’s crucial for companies to help their salesforce building their personal brand on social media so they can be more confident when they’re having discussions with their leads.
Salespeople have to be self-confident to deliver convincing sales pitches to their leads. To do so, they need to be credible by sharing high-value content and having meaningful discussions with their leads on social media.
Building a strong personal branding strategy on social media is a good way to be self-confident and become a better salesperson. I’m convinced that the best B2B salespeople don’t need to set up face-to-face meetings with their leads to close deals, they are able to so through discussions on social media, phone calls, emails and online meetings.
Do you have tips businesses can apply to help their B2B salespeople being more successful in their social selling strategy?
1. Help salespeople finding the content strategy that suits them the best!
All the salespeople don’t work in the same way, they don’t have the same expertise, they don’t use the same social media channels and ultimately, they don’t share the same content.
I think you really need to arrange workshops and to have discussions with them to help them figure out which strategy suits them the best. Some of them are going to stand out by publishing videos and maybe by creating their own videos, others will prefer to become contributors to magazines, others will prefer to join a professional association and so forth.
2. Encourage salespeople taking part in internal comms!
How can your salespeople be active on social media if they are not encouraged to actively take part in internal comms? I think that your internal comms is your starting point: encourage your sales teams to share their best practices, their knowledge, and their market research. Your salespeople need to get more confidence and to showcase their expertise, and it starts in the workplace!
As I said earlier, salespeople have different types of expertise, they have their own niche, they may even target different audiences so let them stand out! By developing their credibility among their colleagues they will be able to do it outside the company, including on social media.
3. Help your salespeople building a successful market monitoring strategy!
As you may know, salespeople need to share meaningful and accurate content because keeping up with the latest industry trends is crucial! It’s essential for them to get access to the latest trends and the company should make it easy for them to find the latest news. It’s also important to provide them with information related to the competitors so they can analyze their strategies and find out the key product differentiations to build a convincing sales pitch.
4. Encourage knowledge sharing and teamwork in the workplace!
By sharing their expertise, their advice, and any information that can be helpful for their colleagues, salespeople can generate new ideas to improve the sales process. By working together, they can, for instance, find out solutions to shorten sales cycles, to manage their sales pipeline in a better way or to find more leads.
The next step is to implement the ideas generated by the sales team. I’m convinced that to be more successful in their social selling strategy, salespeople need to work together and to share their knowledge more often. The company should also strengthen horizontal communication.
In terms of incentives, I think businesses should implement group incentive plans instead of individual incentive plans, it’s a good way to develop teamwork!
About Nicolas Vanhove: Sales coach, social selling expert and lead generation specialist, Nicolas has founded BIGGER Stronger in 2013 to help Singapore and Hong Kong-based businesses building and structuring a stronger sales process. Passionate about entrepreneurship, he has also founded TUTOROO, an online marketplace that helps students connect with qualified in-person language tutors near them. You can follow Nicolas’s activities on Twitter and on LinkedIn.