Social selling is a topic that has most marketing professionals scratching their heads, yet 58% of marketers who have used social media for at least three years state that social has helped them boost sales. But HOW?! Well, >#MarketingMinds chat sets out to find the answers!

How would you define social selling?

@kshahwork defines social selling as a precursor to sales that is achieved via social interactions. Social selling can be answering questions, offering valuable content, retweeting a prospect or sharing their blog posts until the prospect is ready to buy. Basically, social selling is nurturing a relationship and should not be confused with closing a deal on a social platform.

How can you leverage social presence from a sales perspective?

Social media monitoring is mentioned as one way of leveraging social to help with selling. By listening to our audience, competitors or industry keywords, we are able to stay in the loop of real time conversations and reach out directly. We know that behaviour is a better predictor of purchase probability than demographics, so make use of this information!  A prospect that is asking about the best vendors in an online forum is much more likely to be in the buy cycle than a contact from a list selected on LinkedIn by industry, department and job title.

Now, billions of conversations happen on social each day on different social platforms, the challenge is knowing where conversations that are important to our brand are unfolding. I say challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. The Meltwater Buzz tool points us in the right direction and can help our social selling strategy by showing us buzz volume by channel. After all, we have to know where our audience is before we start trying to target and listen to them.

How does social selling differ from a traditional sales approach?

To say social media has shaken up the business landscape would be an understatement. An obvious way in which it has done so is the move from a one-to-one sales approach to message exposure to the masses.

The opportunity for social sales professionals to understand their prospects and their prospects’ needs has grown in proportion with the growth of online information. We no longer have to persuade the receptionist to pass on details of the company’s decision makers; a quick browse of LinkedIn will provide us with this information. In addition to this, Pinterest profiles and Twitter updates about a prospects daily life enables us to understand interests and habits. We can then start a conversation sharing useful and relevant information to show that we understand the need and can solve the problem.

Our audience no longer has to rely on our brands word when it comes to selling, a quick search will allow them access to reviews about our brand, comments from past users or posts from brand advocates. Our audience has more power than ever when it comes to buying, emphasising the need for extensive brand management to help sway their decision.

Which tools do you use for prospecting on social?

Social business is changing the nature and speed of prospecting and networking to create a new social sales discipline. Enter community management! As mentioned in a previous #MarketingMinds chat, tools such as Meltwater Buzz can help us manage prospecting on social by dividing our online community by relationship, for example prospects, customers or brand advocates. This can be achieved by analysing levels of engagement individuals have had with our brand. Engagement is an important metric to consider since the aim of social selling is to engage our audience through content that encourages them to browse our website and ultimately move through the purchase funnel.

How do you balance selling and social conversation?

How do we balance social selling and social conversation? By delivering a low profile pitch. Our audience is on social media to build relationships and have some downtime from their hectic day, not to be harassed by pushy sales people.

We must provide value and ensure we are relevant in the conversation. If we listen online and notice a community member talking about a topic relevant to our brand, jump in! @eksays agrees, further adding that selling these days needs to be consultative. A good sales person knows the value of research. By carefully researching a prospect’s company, competitors and personal characteristics prior to social selling, we can offer a more consultative sales approach and more constructive business relationships.