If you work in sales, you’ll know that it’s an ever-changing field. It seems that just as one new sales technique starts to gain traction, the world is onto the next. It’s often said in sales that as soon as everyone and their mother is talking about it, it’s old news. The likely reason being that as every salesperson starts to adopt this method, buyers become more aware of the techniques and it becomes apparent they’re being sold to.
However, one particular trend that doesn’t seem to be losing traction is social selling – the means of using social media to build rapport with (and ultimately sell to) prospects. Why? Well, frankly, it works. Building rapport and generating interest have been essential aspects of sales for years, and social selling stripped back is merely doing this via social media.
Social media has become one of the most valuable sales tools over the last few months, but before we discuss why, let’s look at social selling and why it’s become so prominent since the introduction of social media.
Why Social Selling?
Once again, because it works. Okay, there’s more to it than that. Why does it work, and why should you do it? Social media has given salespeople the means of connecting with just about anybody. After all, who isn’t on social media these days? If you can’t connect with them directly, perhaps they won’t follow you back or accept your connection request, using social selling techniques means you’re still able to pop up on their radar. Linkedin’s InMail, for example, allows you to communicate with a prospect simply by knowing their name, long gone are the days of needing a phone number or a meeting to tell a prospect what you do. This practice isn’t social selling, but it’s a testament to how effective social media is as a sales tool.
Social selling is, in its purest form, the means of using social media to listen to, engage, and build rapport with prospective clients. Social selling allows you to make real connections and establish relationships with people who you may otherwise not have been able to reach. You could start this process by simply engaging with their content, leaving a comment or an interaction here and there to build rapport and familiarity, then advocating for your organization, sharing company news and information on your services, until ultimately you establish yourself as a thought leader in the eyes of your target audience. If done well, you may find they come to you when they have questions regarding your industry, or if you’re lucky, your company! Check out this previous post we put together on the most jaw-dropping social selling statistics!
One of the most significant pros from a company perspective is that it increases your share of voice within your industry. More people talking publicly about your company will build familiarity and assert your dominance within your respected field. Social selling isn’t all about sharing company content, but it’s a crucial part for both company and employee in building familiarity.
So why do you need more presence on social media now, compared to, say, three months ago? The answer is somewhat obvious, the global pandemic has changed everything in business, from how we operate to how we ultimately sell. Offices are empty, calls are being diverted, prospects are working from home, and it seems they’re harder than ever to reach.
Where can you guarantee they’ll always have their eyes and ears? You guessed it – social media.
Social Media Usage and Engagement Rates are Soaring
Over the last few months, the pandemic took full effect and left governments all over the globe with no choice but to enforce lockdown measures. Not only have many businesses and industries ground to a halt, but people are being told to stay indoors.
Due to their new daily routines, whether because they’re working from home or just confined to their homes, people are twiddling their thumbs and looking for new ways to pass the time and source entertainment. This led to a significant soar in social media usage and engagement, including a 70% increase in time spent on Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp in March when most countries began enforcing lockdown measures.
Furthermore, the same study found that there was a 76% increase on social posts that used #ad, suggesting that though people didn’t want to appear insensitive by advertising during a time of crisis, consumers were engaging with paid content more than usual.
Previously, most people would have spent a good chunk of their free time on the internet, and a vast percentage of that internet usage was devoted to social media. So, it should come as no surprise that people are spending increasing amounts of time browsing their favorite social platforms.
For social media marketers, this was seen as an opportune time to increase their company’s presence on social, with the prospect of increased visibility, lower CPC rates, increased website traffic, and so much more. For sales, this meant very much the same, though the climate had shifted drastically and the consensus was that people should not be selling, leaving a lot of salespeople scratching their heads and wondering how to see this through.
One of the trickiest aspects of social selling is getting yourself in front of your target audience. Yes, you can connect with them, and of course, you can message them directly when this is the case, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll read your message (they probably get a lot of them), and most importantly just having that connection doesn’t mean that your content will reach them. Why? Algorithms and competition. Social media feeds are crowded places, and as a result, most top platforms have harsh algorithms in place as a way of filtering this down to ensure that what you’re seeing is always relevant to you. Works great for you no doubt, but when attempting to increase your presence online, this can be a real set back.
If you haven’t yet realized why you need to be utilizing social media for sales right now, I’ll break it down to the two most significant recent developments: