Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email.
And social selling has gone beyond being just a buzzword – it’s de rigueur in most businesses. The ROI on social selling is already proven. According to Forbes, 78% of salespeople that use social media outsell their peers. McKinsey reports that 54% of salespeople claim to have closed a deal as a direct result of social media.
Yet many salespeople are still hesitant to adopt this new way of attracting, communicating with, and engaging prospects. Why is that?
For one thing, time. As it is, with all the tasks they need to get done, reps only spend about 37% of their time selling (CSO Insights).
Another reason your sales reps are shying away from social media? (And, let’s face it, there’s not much they shy away from!) They worry about saying the wrong thing. A Hearsay Social survey of more than 700 financial advisors and agents conducted earlier this year found that more than 60% of these professionals believe the most difficult part of using social media to grow their businesses is knowing what to say or how to manage relationships. Getting the right tone online can be tricky and the repercussions of a tweet-gone-wrong are significant and lasting.
On the flip side, using social media has the potential to set you apart from the competition – in a good way. Over 70% of B2B purchase decision makers use social media to help them decide (Dell).
Once your sales content publishing machine is up and running, here are tips to help you and your sales team get the most mileage out of prospect-facing content by utilizing it on social media.
Mindless task? Think again.
When it comes to filling that empty update box with words, or a link, before clicking “Share,” consider these four questions. Are you:
- Offering a solution to your prospects’ problems?
- Showcasing your company as solution to their problems?
- Highlighting a shift from your prospects’ status quo?
- Presenting your organization as leader in the field?
Be thoughtful about what content you’re sharing and where. Are you helping to solve problems or sharing creative solutions? Make sure your posts are relevant and adding value. Blasting your followers with links alone doesn’t show much thought was put into your post – and it’s that much more likely to be ignored.
When you’ve found a piece of sales content you want to share via a social network, choose one or two sentences from the article (or blog, or video) to include in the body of the post. Or, come up with your own take on the material. Your message should come across as personal and authentic – not canned or promotional.
Besides educating prospects, the content you post through your social media account says a lot about you as a professional. Whether you like it or not, your online reputation is more important than ever before. When someone searches you on Google, your LinkedIn profile will be the 1st or 2nd result. By putting a little bit of time and effort into your online presence you are building your own personal brand, and setting yourself up as a trusted source of information.
Just a matter of time
The biggest objection most salespeople have when it comes to social media is that they’d have to use valuable, already endangered, selling time. But according to a Jim Keenan study, spending just 10% of your time on social media could lead to you exceeding your quota by 10%. What does 10% of your day look like? Less than one hour a day. Rather than looking at that hour spent on social media as an extra chore, think of it as the new normal – more effectively reaching your prospects where they spend their time.
Remember: You don’t have to use every social network to see great results. Simply focusing on LinkedIn will drastically improve your productivity and expertise. As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn is the best place to find and pursue prospects, not to mention a legitimate and viable business content publishing platform – in fact, LinkedIn claims to see six times more engagement with content shared through its site than with the jobs feature. All you need to do to effectively reach prospects on LinkedIn is post one or two updates a day – it’s important not to overwhelm your followers.
Show them you know them
In addition to sharing public posts promoting your existing sales content, use social networks to grow your network, stay up on industry trends, and gather company intel.
According to an IDC report, only one out of six sales professionals were “extremely prepared” for an initial meeting with a customer, while 57% were either not prepared at all or only somewhat prepared. To stand out, prep for meetings by using a company or individual’s social media accounts to gather real-time information about projects they may be working on, new product releases, company culture, and more. By performing this research in advance of the meeting, you’ll also have a better idea of which pieces of your existing sales content will have the most impact – include links to those pieces of content in a customized pitch deck or email them out with your meeting reminder.