With 23 million users, Facebook is the most popular social network in Germany. But also other networks like Twitter, Instagram and ok.ru are very popular. Companies can use this to their advantage: Social selling is an effective and increasingly popular method in online sales. In this blog article, we present five tips to help you develop a successful social selling strategy.
The realisation that potential customers are also primarily to be found in social media has become more and more widespread in recent years. Many companies use social selling, for example, by contacting customers and target groups via social networks or collecting relevant data there. In 2017, for example, a study conducted by LinkedIn found that 90 percent of salespeople surveyed considered the use of social selling to be important or very important in achieving successful deals.
In the best case scenario, a good social selling strategy is optimally coordinated between sales and marketing and thus helps to tap new potential. But what does it take?
Tip 1: Design knowledge transfer
The digitalization of our everyday world is a great opportunity for marketing and sales - there is no question about it. At the same time, however, restructuring is also necessary, new processes must be introduced and evaluated, different methods must be tried out and digital worlds designed. This can quickly become a challenge. For many companies it is unclear where to start and how to implement scaling. A large proportion of salespeople (72 percent) have no experience of social selling, while 69 percent of salespeople with experience have acquired their skills themselves without attending training programs. So it is not surprising that only 8.5 percent of the sales experts using social selling have integrated their social selling strategy into the entire sales process.
In many companies it has proven to be extremely helpful to bring the know-how of all employees into the process design. Younger employees in particular use social media, for example with a much more routine approach, and can contribute to a valuable understanding of benefits and problems.
Tip 2: Define strategy and objectives
The most important point here is first of all to have a strategy at all and to think about how to develop it. You'll be miles ahead of most companies that just get started and wonder why their KPIs aren't met and sales aren't increasing despite social selling. The reason: Only social selling with a meaningful and holistic sales strategy is really social selling.
It is therefore necessary to clearly define which marketing and sales objectives the company is pursuing and to analyse which potentials can be exploited through social selling. This also includes an honest look inside: What can we achieve with our current resources and where are our strengths and weaknesses?
Tip 3: Internal Social Media Handling
In some companies, employees are not allowed to surf social media during working hours. Of course, private telephone conversations at the workplace have also been taboo in most offices for decades. Many start-ups and modern companies make it clear that social media is still about something different.
Employees on social media are always the figurehead of every company. It is clear that private chats and excessive scrolling through the Facebook newsfeed are not particularly conducive to corporate performance. But they also increase employee satisfaction and thus productivity.
For marketing and sales staff, XING and LinkedIn should also be no foreign words to make contacts and, if necessary, find potential customers there as well. It is no coincidence that these networks are also regarded as digital business cards. Over 84 percent of companies active in social selling, for example, use the LinkedIn platform.
If you're more of a consumer, Facebook or Instagram, as well as any platform that your target audiences like best, might be the right place for you.
Another important point is the training of employees in how to deal with social media. Empower your sales managers to become true communication professionals in the social networking world and build and maintain contacts in this way.
Active listening in the social media helps you to build a successful social selling process. In this way, you can determine current trends, the reach of your content and the reactions of your target groups to your published content, for example.
Tip 4: Show professional presence
Two-thirds of all customers use social media to inform themselves before making purchase decisions. This means for every company to show presence and to build channels for its own use. This ultimately increases their competitiveness in the long term.
Keep in mind that not all channels address the same target groups equally. You should therefore ensure that channels are played coherently and that the content is highly relevant and up-to-date for the relevant target group. In the overall view of all communication platforms together, a suitable picture should emerge despite the individual differences.
Tip 5: Listen, watch!
Only with effective social media monitoring can you build a successful social selling process. This allows you to track customer behavior and current trends and filter them by tonality and relevance, for example. With tools like Tweet Deck, Google Alerts, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, search subscriptions give you access to company news and general trends, for example. If you find relevant information, you can forward it directly to the sales area of your company.
Social media monitoring can also be used, for example, to determine the reach of your content, how your target groups react to it and which people and companies have interact. So you always know exactly where your target groups are in the customer journey, what touchpoints are available to get in touch and what you should say best. Influencers in social networks can also provide information about such structures and at best help as cooperation partners to generate traffic.
A personal or individualized contact is always appropriate when potential customers show interest or seem to have difficulties that you as a company can solve. Special forms of content such as e-books or info videos, so-called "service training", are available for this purpose. In this way you offer real added value and at the same time position yourself as an important contact and "Trusted Advisor".
Active listening in the social media helps you to build a successful social selling process. In this way, current trends, the reach of your content and the reactions of your target groups to your published content can be determined.
Practical Example: Social Selling at SAP
Social selling was introduced at SAP in 2012. Since then, an enormous amount of knowledge has accumulated among the relevant employees. Employees use this knowledge, among other things, to better identify customers' focal points of interest and to identify decision-makers in companies. All information is continuously completed and shared with the rest of the company.
SAP has recognized that social selling is completely freeing itself from old sales structures and is pursuing a strategy of listening and participation by connecting employees with each other and with customers via as many channels as possible, such as Xing, LinkedIn and Twitter. In this way, personalized content (e.g. videos) can be sent that triggers interaction with customers and prospects.
Finally, it should be noted that social selling requires the merger of sales and marketing along every hierarchical level of a company. SAP has done just that, and both divisions have taken part in joint certifications and training sessions. That pays off: Since the introduction of Social Selling, the efficiency in capturing leads and sales opportunities has increased significantly, which has also had a positive effect on sales.
SAP is an ideal example of how properly applied and fully integrated social selling can drive business success.