If a brand is wanting to stay relevant with buyers, it is crucial they understand social as the go-to platform. Source: Shutterstock.com

Increasing your sales through social selling

IN the digital era, the buying behavior of customers is increasingly changing. People are using digital platforms such as search engines, blog posts, websites, webinars and online tools to self-educate before shortlisting product choices.

Businesses must adapt their selling strategies in order to keep up with this evolving consumer behavior. According to Koka Sexton, the global industry principal of social selling at Hootsuite, the term refers to “leveraging your personal brand to fill your pipeline with the right people, insights and relationships”.

If a brand is wanting to stay relevant with buyers, it is crucial they understand social as the go-to platform – the leading way in which buyers, especially the younger generation, make purchasing decisions.

So, why should your business care about social selling? Well, the answer is in the numbers. Simply put: it works.

Research has found that 78 percent of salespeople who embrace social selling are outselling their peers and have 45 percent more sales opportunities.

Social selling builds real relationships with customers

According to eMarketer, 31 percent of B2B professionals regard social selling tools as allowing them to build deeper relationships with clients. Source: Shutterstock.com

Social selling is about building relationships with customers. According to a blog by Hootsuite, social selling involves “strategically listening for the right moment to join the conversation” and presenting yourself as a solution to a current problem, rather than becoming just another annoying salesperson. This strategy is referred to as “social listening”.

Today, individuals openly share information on their public profiles concerning their needs and wants, as well as pain points. This abundance of information gives a salesperson the perfect opportunity to curate a first point of contact that is personalized and relevant, rather than intrusive and cold.

This more personalized approach of sales leads to a more meaningful ongoing prospect and client engagement. Research from eMarketer revealed 31 percent of B2B professionals regard social selling as a way in which to build deeper relationships with clients.

Furthermore, by building a strong network through an array of social media channels, you can seek out potential sales prospects via existing mutual connections. In one particular study, 87 percent of B2B buyers reported having a favourable impression of someone introduced through their professional network.

Tim Hughes, co-founder and CEO of Digital Leadership Associates, told Tech Wire Asia: “People will always turn to their family, friends and network – people they trust – to buy from first. Social media allows you to build such friendships, at scale and for free. Social selling is the only way to build deeper customer relationships.”

Clients and social buying

Just as salespeople are “social listening” in order to best discover their clients needs, these clients are also using this same skill to discover potential vendors.

In fact, research by Gartner revealed that on average, customers are 57 percent of the way through the purchase process before even engaging with a sales professional. On top of this, research from the International Data Corporation found 75 percent of B2B buyers and 84 percent of executives utilize contacts and content from social networks to inform purchasing decisions.

With this in mind, it is fair to say that if your business is not engaging with social selling, you are not showing up as part of the clients’ social buying research. The result of this can be a whole lot of missed sales.

And with 71 percent of all sales professionals already using social selling tools, the likelihood is that your competitors are already one step ahead of you.

“Companies are starting to understand that social is the go-to channel if they want to stay relevant with buyers, especially with the younger demographics. This is because buyers are constantly using social to make their purchasing decisions. It is in the interest of companies to empower their salesperson to engage on social media,” said Sexton