Top Tips for Effective Social Selling

 

What is social selling, how is it done and which social selling tips and techniques should you be using to pick up sales? We’ll be covering all these points and more in this article, to help you become a proficient social seller.

What is social selling?

Social selling means making B2B sales on social media.

To social sellers, the term has also come to signify the particular processes, tools and techniques which have come to be regarded as social selling best practice.

Most social selling is done on Twitter and LinkedIn, the latter of which has several features explicitly designed to help with social selling (some of which you’ll have to pay to use).

Good social selling involves the following steps:

  • Establishing your brand
  • Prospecting for leads
  • Engaging with leads
  • Pitching
  • Using data to optimise your processes

We’re now going to talk through these points one-by-one, to give you a start-to-finish overview of the process.

Establishing your brand

Effective social selling requires the solid foundation of a great social profile.

The first step towards making your social profile a success is creating a high production value profile that communicates your personal brand. We’ve written at length about this subject in our Guide to Personal Branding.

Second, you’ll need to form an outstanding content strategy to establish yourself as an authority in your area of expertise. An efficient way to do this is posting some of your own content and sharing other peoples’, to demonstrate knowledge and engagement in your area of specialism.

You can see this approach to social content at work on our CEO, Daniel Rowles’ Twitter account:

The posts linking to our own site show our expertise and attract website traffic; the posts linking to third-party content show our engagement with our industry, and as a bonus, they also invite engagement with our profile. Bringing these two elements helps create a lively, convincing social presence.

There’s a lot to be gained by establishing yourself as an authority. According to SuperOffice, 92% of buyers are willing to engage with industry thought-leaders, while only 62% are willing to connect with common-or-garden salespeople.

Prospecting for leads

As well as your existing network, you’ll want to extend your social selling to people you haven’t met yet. Why restrict your activity to your own sphere, when the whole world is your oyster?

The process of identifying fresh leads is known as prospecting.

There are lots of techniques and tools to help with this process – but our best advice is that you start from a very basic idea:

You know what your customers are like and what makes them likely to pay for your services. Therefore, you should look for leads cut from the same cloth.

LinkedIn and Twitter have this process beautifully simple, by providing recommendations on who to follow.

On LinkedIn (in a desktop view), go to the profile of an existing business contact. You should see an option to “See connections” in the top-right; and further down the page, a list of people under the heading ‘People Also Viewed’. Both can be used to find people to add to your network/prospects list.

Similarly, in Twitter’s desktop view you can find leads by going to a contact’s profile and finding the “Who to follow” section, to the top-right.

Twitter also provides “Who to follow” recommendations on your newsfeed page – however, you’ll generally be able to find better leads by visiting profile pages. This is because the recommendations you’ll see on someone else’s page are tailored to be similar to the page owner, which allows for more targeted prospecting.

Using LinkedIn and Twitter recommendations is a simple-yet-effective approach to prospecting for leads as you kick-start your social selling work.

We recommend organising your leads in a customer relationship management tool such as HubSpot CRM from the very start. This will allow your team to create a shared database of contacts with personalised notes, tags and links, which can be updated whenever one of you interacts with the lead.

Making contact

Recognition and relationships undoubtedly impact the likelihood of selling – which is why making some initial contact with leads before you pitch to them is best practice in social selling.

Social media gives us lots of ways to communicate informally with leads before we try to sell something to them, including:

  • Follow/connect/like/friend request – in LinkedIn’s case, a profile view might suffice to pique the lead’s interest.
  • Comments/replies – comment on the lead’s posts in a helpful and engaging way.  If you can spark further conversation on the post, all the better. This approach is an excellent way to show your knowledge, interest and positivity.
  • Share – if your lead has posted some stellar content, give it a share.

The elephant in the room here is that these actions could come across as transparently self-serving. There’s no doubt that some people will see what you’re doing here – but in our experience, most won’t mind at all. No business operates on social media just for fun.

Whenever you make contact with a lead in any of the ways described above, make an entry in your CRM system in preparation for making a formal pitch at a later date.

Pitching your services on social media

Pitching B2B services on social is a balancing act. On the one hand, every communication needs to be tailored to the recipient; on the other, you need to use tried-and-tested approaches to ensure a high success rate and efficient process.

The key to getting the balance right is using flexible message/comment templates.

We’re great fans of this social selling template model from HubSpot.

They propose a message (i.e. a LinkedIn InMail or Twitter message) involving the following elements:

1. Subject line

2. Recipient’s first name

3. Your first name and company

4. Establish a point of commonality

5. Make an observation about their social media activity

6. Link to a useful resource on a related topic

7. Ask a question about how they intend to approach the issue

8. Express interest in helping them out

9. Request a conversation

We’ve written the following example to give you an idea of how these elements might come together in practice:

Subject: [1] Your Email Marketing Tactics

Dear Joseph, [2]

Allow me to introduce myself! I’m Erik Smyth from Target Internet [3] – we’re an internet marketing training company specialising in e-learning.

We understand you’re a distributed company, like us. How are you finding remote working? We’ve got team members all over the place, but we still seem to be getting things done! [4]

We’re getting in touch to let you know how interested we were to see your LinkedIn Pulse post on the worldwide digital skills gap [5] – particularly the section on the need for greater focus on strategic digital skills. We’ve done a lot of work on this subject too, and we thought you might be interested to read this article we wrote [6] about the UK’s digital skills gap, which brings together lots of statistics you may not have encountered yet.

May we ask how you plan to bridge the digital skills gap within your own organisation? [7] There’s a good chance we’d be able to help you out on this front if you haven’t decided on a way forward yet. We’d certainly be interested in working with you [8] – and either way, it would be fascinating to meet up to share ideas about the digital skills gap. [9] Would this be of interest to you?

This is a fine model for a social media sales message – but it’s not the only one that works. In our experience, the most important points are:

  • Personalisation
  • Politeness
  • Adding value

If you can hit those three, you’ll be in with a good chance of getting a positive response.

How to Cold pitch on social media platforms

Not all social selling takes place through a complex process of acquiring, developing and pitching to leads – sometimes it’s just a matter of finding people who are actively seeking help.

If you can pop up in the lead’s notifications/messages offering the ideal solution at just the right moment, you’ll have an excellent chance of making a sale.

We can look for people who require information or a solution to a problem through a process known as social media monitoring – which basically means using a tool to track certain keywords or activities on social.

Set up a social media monitoring tool – Mention, for instance – to keep track of people posting promising keyword combinations relating to your area of expertise. For example, if you’re a bookkeeping software provider, set Mention up to notify you when someone searches for:

  • Recommend + bookkeeping + tool
  • Help + Bookkeeping
  • Need + digital + bookkeeping
  • Online + bookkeeping + advice

As you can see, the idea is to track searches that indicate a need for the solutions your company can provide.

You’ll find that as you explore lots of different keywords in your social media monitoring, you’ll gain an improving instinct for how people in your sector communicate their needs. And over time, you’ll start to recognise characteristic features of the posts and leads most likely to convert.

Using data to boost your ROI

Like most digital marketing activities, you can make your social selling better over time by using data-derived insights to inform your processes.

For example, if you’ve identified a type of lead (e.g. people from a certain demographic or industry) as high-converting, you could experiment with devoting more time to personalising pitches to individuals in that category.

Then, if the results from this experiment look good, you could go further by increasing the time you spend on personalising pitches to the relevant leads until you find the optimum ratio of time invested to conversions gained.

As well as using data to inform your broader pitch strategy, you should also use it to brush up the content tactics – e.g. message titles on LinkedIn – you use in your pitches.

For example, you might set up an A/B experiment in which you send the same message to two randomly selected groups of 50 leads. The messages are identical but the subjects used are different. You’ll be able to see which is the most effective subject by comparing which of the two groups gets the highest open rate, and you can use that insight to create better subjects in future.

If you keep experimenting and improving your processes iteratively, you’ll end up with a far better outcome than would otherwise be likely.

 

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