The next big thing in marketing is here and your business might just be missing out on it! This article outlines how social selling has evolved to become a leading tool for sales lead generation today. It explains the four essential steps that you need to take to extract maximum benefits from the vast power of social selling. Let us first begin by understanding what social selling exactly is.
Social selling is defined as the process of leveraging on the popularity of social networks for finding the right consumers, building trusted relationships, and hence, achieving your sales goals. It is a sales technique that improves the sales prospecting and sales lead generation process for organizations. The diversity of the social network enables businesses to connect with broader audiences and allows them to build better relationships of trust with their customers. [HubSpot]
The evolution of social selling
According to an Infographic by QuotaDeck, the history of social selling dates all the way back to the Second World War. During the post-WWII era in the 1940s and 1950s, the global economy had stifled because of the resources consumed during and after the war. This was when the first era of social selling, the art of getting to know your customers and their demands, evolved in the markets. Ever since then, the concept has gradually evolved and the emergence of the social media in the 2010s have given the rise of a new era of social selling. Ever since the 2010s, companies have now turned towards the social networks for staying connected with their consumers. Today, 77% of B2C companies have acquired consumers through the use of Facebook, while 61% of B2B companies make use of social media channels to increase lead generation. This shows how the concept of social selling has evolved with the boom of the social media. [Sexton]
The future of social selling
Social fundamentals will remain the same, but the tools will drive innovation
It is expected that the new tools and applications that develop in the near future will decide the future of social selling. This is because of the way you social sell depends on the tool you use; there are different ways of doing it on LinkedIn, as compared to Snapchat and Twitter. Even though the basics will remain the same, the way you carry them out will depend on platforms that are yet to be created. [Forrester Research]
Cross-team collaboration will result in ‘team revenue’
The CEO of Sales for Life, Jamie Shanks believes that the future of social selling needs a strong partnership between the marketing and sales departments. The digital marketing team fuels social conversations by creating, organizing, distributing, and evaluating the sales insights. It also measures the content consumption of each new customer and keeps a track of prescriptive movements in order to help sales professionals in reaching customers with highly-targeted insights. This shows that marketing can have a direct contribution to the revenue of a business.
Social selling will increase across every industry
Looking at the current popularity of the social media and the rate at which it is rapidly growing, we can easily say that the future of sales is a social one. Organizations that do not adapt to the trend of social selling and companies that do not put social intelligence into their customer relation management (CRM) systems, will soon realize that they are at an enormous disadvantage in today’s competitive market. The modern-day consumer is already ahead of businesses, when it comes to technology and this is a prime time that all industries turn towards techniques such as social selling for keeping up with the competition. [Nelson]
A 4-step process to effectively exploit the power of social selling
Create a professional brand:
A strong professional brand indicated that you participate actively in the industry. It results in more responses to communications and more inquiries from prospects.
Focus on the right prospects:
With social selling, you can find and connect with prospects more efficiently and effectively as compared to traditional sales. On social media, buyers find it easier to identify prospects that are based on your established criteria, including function, role, and industry.
Engage with insights:
More than 62% of B2B sales are from customers that communicate directly with salespersons who are updated with relevant opportunities and insights. Therefore, it is always a good idea to present yourself as an expert on the subject by commenting on news alerts, sharing relevant content, and developing your professional brand. This process, also known as B2B content marketing, is an essential part of the social selling process that improves customer experience and hence, leads to increased sales. [LinkedIn]
Build trusted relationships:
Building relationships of trust with your customers is the primary objective of social selling. Remember that you need to focus on the needs of your customers before you move on to actually selling your products. Have genuine conversations, provides relevant information and share your perspectives to build trust with potential consumers.[LinkedIn]
Measuring Social Selling Success
There are numerous social selling tools available in the market today that you can use to measure your business’ social success. A common question asked by marketers here is: What factors do I need to consider when measuring social selling success? You can take help from the following list, in order to measure how well your business is performing and what steps you can take to improve your social selling strategies.
Monitor Profile Views
Profile views indicate how much your profile appeals the visitors. It can tell you an average number of people who are at least viewing you.
Track Prospect Referrals
You cannot expect social selling activities to always lead to sales conversions directly, as they often set the basis for future lead nurturing. However, tracking prospect referrals can give you an idea of social selling contribution to sales.
Social Selling Index
The Social Selling Index (SSI) is a social selling measurement tool by LinkedIn that allows you to keep track of your performance on LinkedIn. A score from 0 – 100 is assigned to you that is based on the four steps of social selling that we have described above. This social media index allows you to assess how well your organization is performing on the social media platform.
Know Your Content Engagement Rates
Social media engagement means some type of direct interaction of a follower with your content. This interaction can be equated to some sort of interest in you or your service. A number of tools offer built-in analytics to assist in measuring engagement. There are also third-party software tools that help in social media analytics. While some software solutions present engagement metrics in the CRM, you also have the optioning of working with your marketing team to determine an easy way of measuring engagement rates at the rep level. High rates would mean a relatively strong interest of users in the content that your sales reps share.
Count CRM Social Selling Contacts:
Another important figure is the number of social selling contacts reps on each account in the CMS database, based on the Inc. Let’s say you have an average of five social contacts per account; this means there are at least five people who receive your content through social media. This also indicates that several people are connected to your rep, which opens more doors for information requests and eventually, leads to increased social media sales. [Miller]
Social selling is an emerging sales technique that is likely to become a huge part of customer service in the near future. The modern-day buyer is not impressed with the traditional ways of marketing and selling anymore. Instead, companies now need to find new ways to diversify themselves by moving towards an online approach for selling. This article outlines how you can exploit the power of social selling by creating a professional brand image, focusing on the right audiences, engaging with content marketing, and building trust relationships with customers.
 Sexton, K. 22nd July, 2014. The Evolution of Social Selling. LinkedIn. Retrieved on 7th November 2016 from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140722180502-2633896-the-evolution-of-social-selling
 Forrester Research. May 2013. The Future of Social Selling. Reality Works Group.
 Nelson, A. 24th March, 2016. 5 Expert Statements About The Future of Social Selling. SalesForce. Retrieved on 7th November 2016 from https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/03/future-of-social-selling.html
 LinkedIn. 4 Pillars of Social Selling. Retrieved on 9th November 2016 from https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/social-selling/what-is-social-selling
 Miller, R. C. 23rd February, 2016. 5 Tips For Measuring Your Social Selling Success. Business2Community. Retrieved on 10th November 2016 from http://www.business2community.com/social-selling/5-tips-measuring-social-selling-success-01461742#fUt3if1YFHT2X8UJ.97