According to Global WebIndex, social platforms reach 70% of all Internet users, who spend an average of two hours a day engaging in social media.
In a blog, former SAP CMO Jonathon Becher describes social selling as the ability to build stronger relationships with potential buyers based on an authentic sense of empathy and a deep understanding of the problems they face.
And according to Visionary Game Changers Radio host Bonnie Graham, “Social selling is no longer an option for your business.”
To be successful in social selling, organizations must master three main components:
- Social listening
- Personalized content
- Change management
Social media makes it very easy to tune into the likes and dislikes of potential customers. You can view birthdays, work anniversaries, favorite sports teams, travel destinations, occupations…the list is never-ending.
Social selling is all about listening to what your customers say and like on social media and sharing what they want to see. If you don’t listen with ears wide open, you won’t be able to gauge an appropriate response, comment, tweet, or discussion post.
The best posts add value by including a personal thought, supporting article, or question. “Asking questions is a great way to engage in conversation,” said SAP Marketing’s Kirsten Boileau in the Visionary Game Changers Radio show, Social Selling 2. “Then you have to listen instead of always speaking.”
Personalizing your message
By tailoring messages to fit the customer, a salesperson is going to make a bigger impact, make better connections, and build stronger relationships.
As Kirsten Boileau said on air, “You can share all kinds of content to your networks and send it out via e-mail, but if you just send the generic link to the contact content without adding some sort of spin on it, some sort of your own opinion, or a statistic or a fact that will really resonate and make it relevant for your customer, it just becomes part of the noise.”
When you click the “tweet to share” button on an article, the generic, auto-generated tweet will contain the article’s title and link. By adding a touch of personalization to that tweet, you set yourself apart. Pull out a quote, statistic, or opinion and you provide your followers with a way to relate and connect with you. This both humanizes your post and helps increase the chance that customers will read what you’re sharing.
The same rule applies when you comment on a customer’s post or reach out to them on social media. By personalizing your message to resonate with the customer, you’ll make a stronger connection and build a better relationship.
Successful change management
So, is the boom of social selling here to stay? It sure is.
The foundations of selling remain the same; it’s still about relationship-building, trust, and authenticity. The main goal of any salesperson is to be a trusted advisor to the customer. Despite the technological advancements that help execute this goal, from the telephone to the Internet to email to social networks, the goal remains the same.
To successfully implement the practice of social selling across a business, there must be cross-collaboration between the marketing and sales departments, funnel-down buy-in from executives, and daily reinforcement and application.
- Alignment between marketing and sales: Collaboration across marketing and sales is key. Kurt Shaver, CEO of the Sales Foundry, states, “The future of marketing is sales.” In order to best sell a product, marketing and sales must be aligned and support each other.
- Company-wide adoption: In a study conducted by SAP, the ten executives who are most active digitally are 80% more likely to exceed their quotas than those that aren’t. Let’s say one employee has the potential to reach 1 million people with social interaction. In a company with 1,000 or more employees, the potential social reach is a tremendous opportunity. With support from leadership and management, every employee should be a brand ambassador.
- Daily application and reinforcement: Provide employees with the training and tools needed to understand and apply the concepts behind social selling. Follow up with actual change management activities, incorporating social selling into the everyday sales motion.
Kurt Shaver suggests implementing a contest or competition among sales teams to incentivize social selling.
In a report from IDC, by the year 2020, half of the current sales force will be out of a job, especially if they don’t embrace social. Will your company sink or swim?
You can hear more about social selling by listening to the Meet the Visionary Game-Changers Radio Show: Social Selling Part 2: The Future of Sales.
This story was originally published on SCN in SAP Business Trends.