Our CEO, Brad Banyas, recently sat down for an interview with IndustrialSage, a digital marketing vlog and podcast for industrial manufacturers. The show is hosted in the Optimum Productions studio in Atlanta, and this week’s episode featured a growing topic in the digital B2B world: social selling.
You can find the original interview by following the link: https://www.industrialsage.com/what-is-social-selling/
1. WHAT IS SOCIAL SELLING?
Despite seeming like a common buzzword, social selling isn’t all that different from standard selling – save that the medium through which you build your relationships has changed.
You used to build relationships with prospects by phone or email; now it’s Twitter handles and LinkedIn profiles.
Social media, essentially, is one of the key ingredients here – and LinkedIn is probably the best and most recognizable example. The platform is used to build a larger network of data around and about your prospects, so that you know what they’re doing professionally: what they’re looking for, what they’ve recently accomplished, and even who they know.
2. HOW CAN I USE IT?
The main reason why social selling is growing more relevant is because the buyer’s journey and interactions with your company have changed.
People used to learn about you through magazines and trade shows…but now their main source of exposure comes from your website and your social media.
Building business relationships used to take time, but now thanks to social media you can have all the information you need about someone right at your fingertips…and likewise, they have (or should have) all the information they could want about you.
Information from social media platforms like LinkedIn can help you categorize people in your CRM; Salesforce and Nimble are great for this, and they are the main tools on which OMI consults. After you determine your niche target audience, you can identify specific needs or storylines that get tagged in your prospects’ social tools.
The content that people post on social media – like, say, job listings – can help inform the specific ads that you in turn put in front of them.
After spotting tags like that on a lead, OMI can focus on messaging and begin a nurture campaign for that specific individual, or even reach out to them directly about their specific need.
3. WHAT DOES GOOD SOCIAL SELLING LOOK LIKE?
In short, programs like Salesforce and companies like OMI are supposed to help you build relationships; so your efforts into establishing connections and friendships among your network don’t actually look like plain old business.
Good selling doesn’t always look like a sales pitch.
Like or comment on someone’s social media posts now and then.
If you spot a job posting and you know somebody who just might fit the bill, share the post with them.
If an acquaintance has a business challenge that you can’t solve, see if you can connect them to someone who can help.
Do your best to provide value.
“I can go to any industry expert that I know on LinkedIn and say, ‘We’ve got a client that’s got a problem, and I know you guys can help. It has nothing to do with me, but I’m going to introduce you two.’ That’s a different approach, and our clients remember that.”
Of course, it’s not worth it for sales reps to scroll through social media feeds and file away every individual occurrence in the lives of their business peers; they don’t have the time for manual data entry. That’s what social CRMs are for.
Social CRMs haven’t changed social media, but they have changed what information is brought to your attention from social media, so that you can act on new developments and become more helpful to others.
Social selling is about connecting on a personal level, then beginning to do business – as opposed to cold-calling.
“At the end of the day, people want to do business with their friends…What can you do to make their day better or solve their challenge?”
People prefer to do business with someone that has been referred to them by someone that they already know and trust.
“You’re using the speed of the internet…to bring those experts together and then solve problems. And it works.”
It’s not sold; it’s earned over time. That’s a key difference between being a vendor and being a trusted advisor.
“We want to be a trusted partner – and when someone says ‘vendor,’ it’s kind of the kiss of death. You’ve just been commoditized.”
4. HOW CAN MARKETING SUPPORT THIS?
As we’ve said on this show countless times, it is key to align your sales and marketing teams around the proper goals and customer profile.
“The ability of marketing to work with sales in nurturing…really has evolved and is not as difficult as people think.”
It’s about slowly giving them relevant content over time, so when they’re ready to buy, they know who to choose.
It used to be that the marketing department had all the content, but now in many cases the sales team is generating their own content (like video voicemails). Once any one piece of that sales-made content is recognized as particularly effective, that’s a good time for marketing to come in and adopt it for their inventory as well.
“These kinds of tools are really beneficial around building your brand as an individual…no matter what company you’re working for… You are the brand.”
Lots of companies are even capturing content from customers and using it to [re]define their brand as a whole.
“As much technology as we have…it’s all about the human connection.”
5. WHERE SHOULD I START?
The internet. Start with the internet.
But in all seriousness, you really can learn anything about these techniques or these tools by googling “social selling”; you can explore one of the world’s largest business networks; you can get social-selling classes directly on LinkedIn; you can look into easy CRM tools like Nimble and Salesforce that connect to the tools you’re used to.
Start playing around. Reach out to people. Start conversations. Be human.
Want to see more episodes from IndustrialSage? You can subscribe to their newsletter to receive each week’s new video every Monday morning, and you can even submit future topics about industrial marketing to the podcast!