The Four Components of Social Selling

Social selling is an excellent way to sell a product or an idea to a target audience by leveraging social networks. Social selling is a versatile methodology that can help you in a variety of situations. Here is a simple example. Let’s say that you run a cyber security company and your team needs to connect with chief security officers.  You know who your leads are, but the problem is your company needs to create and nurture relationships with those CSOs. After all, they do not know your company – yet. Using social selling, your team can start forming relationships through social networks.  Once the relationship has been established, it can be shifted toward a business-oriented discussion.

Another use-case for social selling is nurturing existing relationships with prospects and existing customers. Here social selling can help you touch base with your contacts frequently in a friendly manner. This is especially important with long sales cycles where you want to ensure your prospects keep you in mind for the moment they are ready to make a decision. This is a much better approach than the occasional “happy holidays” email.

A more sophisticated usage of social selling would be for a chief executive officers to establish themselves as a thought leader in their space. Social selling can help establish relationships with key opinion leaders, nurture those relationships and ensure the CEO’s unique voice is heard.  Social selling can help a company in many ways – from getting more leads, to closing more sales and up to establishing thought leadership and brand awareness.

But what exactly is social selling? The following components cover most aspects of social selling:

  • Use social data to understand your target audience: Many companies monitor conversations on social networks for mentions of their brand. This helps them understand who is talking about them and what is the sentiment around their brand and their products. Some companies use social data to identify thought leaders and engage them in real life. Yet other companies use social data to understand what their target audience is interested in and tailor their marketing strategy accordingly.
  • Post relevant content on social networks to engage your audience – enable employees to post relevant content in their social profiles. Hopefully, this content would engage the target audience. Most companies tend to prepare a list of content for the employees to post. The more innovative companies ask their staff to mix company content with content from other sources that is relevant to the target audience. While requiring more resources to find and curate 3rd party content, this approach positions social sellers as more helpful and relevant to their audience.
  • Converse with individuals from your target audience – For example, if a prospect posts about their latest vacation, then a sophisticated seller would converse about the vacation with the prospect. Of course, if a prospect talks about a business issue, this is a great opportunity for the sophisticated seller to navigate the conversation towards the solution the seller may have to the problem brought up by the prospect. When done correctly, this enables a company to provide the right content in the right context to the right person.
  • Establish executives as thought leaders – here the social seller needs to find the right key opinion leaders and influencers, converse with them in a meaningful way that contributes to the discussion, and position themselves as influencers. This process requires an ongoing investment of time but has a lot of benefits. After all, who does not want to lead the conversation in their industry? For those who are willing to make the investment, the payoff is huge.

Some companies use all these components, and the more advanced companies use them all. The more components of social selling are deployed, the better business results you will see out of social selling. That is why sophisticated companies are using all the components of social selling. They understand their audience, engage their audience, converse with their audience, and even lead the discussions within their space. All of this can be done with social selling.

As the world become digital and selling shifts to virtual, social selling becomes a must, and innovative companies leverage social selling to boost to their bottom line and outperform their less-savvy competitors.

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