I first read the term “social selling” on my daily morning browse of social media. The post described a utopian world where B2B sales people could use the might of social media big data to target prospects and cozy them into warm leads without ever leaving the comfort of our ergonomic office chairs.
Social selling is utilizing social media as a B2B sales prospecting tool.
The concept seems almost too easy. By using the search power and depth of big data you can easily identify the most promising sales prospects. Within your own professional network you can reach out directly with a personal message that offers a very high response rate. At the very least your own network can help introduce or refer you to even more ideal prospects.
An entire LinkedIn business division provides all the details of a perfect social selling world. The power of this process relies on the depth of your network; the leveraging of many connections, ideally a collective network of connections such as those in an enterprise wide organization. Add an integrated CRM and your entire organization can effectively search their collective network for an almost endless supply of warm introductions. The possibilities of this colleague knowing that person can provide an enterprise with lots of introductions and referrals.
A lot of big companies are on board. Can social selling for small and medium business be effective?
Yes, SMBs are after the same leads as large business so it can be equally effective. Primarily, social selling is a process that requires effort but it “costs” less than traditional cold calling techniques. This is why the big dogs are adapting; to lower sales costs. The result is better qualified leads from introductions and referrals. Social selling can work for SMBs just like it works for large business, perhaps with even better results than large businesses! Consider the following SMB advantages:
Entrepreneurs and their crews are extremely passionate about what they sell. This is a great quality that transfers well to social selling. Social selling requires a lot of sincerity, which comes from a foundation of passion for what you offer. SMB can brand themselves as subject experts and passionate engagement.
Social selling isn’t a causal way to sell. SMBs don’t have the culture or history of old school selling tactics. They are looking for an edge to achieve specific lead generation goals. Social selling helps to flatten the playing field with the big dogs to allow those with the greatest determination to lead!
An important component of social selling is social listening, such as gathering info on what is important to your prospects. SMB can be far ahead of big business in agility to change or refocus as necessary. The immediacy of social media can be a real advantage to an agile SMB.
In social selling you must engage based on the value you offer your prospects. Ever hear a 30 second elevator speech from a salesperson from “Megacorporation X”? SMBs usually have a simpler story to tell, that can be specific and to the point.
It is likely harder for SMBs to adapt social selling than the big guns. Social selling is dependent on professional social profiles for the sellers and the companies they represent. Although a number of social media channels can be used, the most effective is LinkedIn. These profiles are technically free although you may want to make a minimal investment in some help to set them up to a professional standard. You may also consider a paid LinkedIn subscription to access their full complement of search and communication tools. In an evolving business landscape your social profile, be it personal or company, is your brand. It can be as strong as any large company brand.
All businesses, regardless of size should look at social media from an ROI perspective. What is the sense of social media for any business unless it actually helps you sell?