There is an interesting story about an interview question at a bank where candidates were asked, “What do you think of social selling?” It was a trick question, intended to weed out the inexperienced social explorers from those that had hands-on enterprise social media experience. The panel listened carefully to how the candidates framed their answers: those that described social selling as just another form of social media marketing or advertising were missing the bigger picture.
In case you are thinking, “But isn’t social selling... selling through social media?” you are partially correct. But, it’s also much more than that. It is a powerful tactic which, if done well using the right technology, can empower sales teams to leverage social media to grow their networks, raise awareness, find prospective clients, nurture business relationships, and generate business leads.
The annals of history are filled with sales professionals sharing stories of using the good old phone book and cold calling to generate new business, but in the modern age, these tactics are definitely losing appeal. Yet, the number of sales professionals who use these same outdated tactics despite huge advancements in technology is astonishing. Too often, even well-meaning sales professionals treat social media as just another channel to spam prospects. At some point, all of us have received a connection request quickly followed by a sales pitch. This tactic simply replaces cold calling with cold connection requests and relabels it “social selling.” But, it is important to note that most times, the modern buyer may not respond favorably to this type of outreach.
So, what is social selling? When implemented properly, a social selling program can help you establish and nurture authentic relationships with your target audience on the channels they prefer. It’s time to redefine the process, the technology, and the medium while harnessing smart AI-driven technology to get a competitive edge.
According to Linkedin Sales Solutions, 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.
But, what are the key elements to consider when building a successful social selling program for your teams? Here are five key considerations for your social selling platform:
Having a content library and making social selling simple and intuitive are just table stakes. To get a winning edge you need technology that is constantly evolving and capable of changing as fast as the constantly updating social algorithms. But, it’s also important to make sure that new technology doesn’t drastically change the user experience or require complete overhauls to the training programs. The new workforce is digitally savvy and they are comfortable with newer social channels; you need a technology partner that is futureproofed and scales as your business needs evolve. The speed of innovation should be a key driver in choosing a technology partner that supports your vision and business needs. A good tip is to look for AI-driven technology with smart suggestions that augment and enhance your sales efforts with data-driven tactics that make your program results-driven.
Blindly sharing content from a content library might seem like a good idea, but it often dilutes your message and misses out on the personalized approach that modern customers demand. A good social selling program encourages genuine interactions in a compliant manner. It is not about selling at all costs, but about generating conversations, engagement, participation, while simultaneously supporting social listening and addressing the pain points of the audience. Most programs fail because they stop at social sharing. A powerful social selling tool helps you listen to what the market is saying, enabling you to participate in conversations by adding real value.
If you can measure it, you can manage it (geek out a bit with some history behind this quote from the renaissance astronomer, Rheticus). Successful social selling programs leverage data to continuously optimize operations. Everything should be measured to provide ROI and flag icebergs before they sink the ship. The icing on the cake happens when the tool automates reports by audience (think CMO, regional manager, branch manager). It makes a lot of business sense to avoid getting caught in the weeds with outcome metrics (lag measures) and focus on performance metrics (lead measures) to help you get a pulse on how your program is performing.
There should not be a “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to social selling tools. Each business has its unique requirements and it’s important that you have a solutions partner that is willing to listen and adapt to meet specific business needs. In financial services, compliance and record retention are an absolute must, so you want to look for technology that can easily integrate with existing vendor solutions without creating additional bottlenecks. That will go a long way in making the program a favorite with compliance and audit partners.
If we do not care to listen to the pain points or needs of our audience, we won’t be able to make a connection. We will not be to help or influence by just guessing and making tactical moves versus authentic strategic actions. If you are not able to make sense of all the social media chatter and noise to identify key conversations, you will fail to deliver better customer experiences. Timely, insightful listening data, when combined with a social selling program, creates social media magic. It helps sales teams to make meaningful conversations that lead to network growth, retention, and leads.
Social selling is not a fad. It is here to stay, and it will be vital for business growth and success. If you need one reason to turn your teams into social sellers it’s this – your clients are on social media and if your sales team is not engaging in that space, they are missing out. It is time to start incorporating social selling into sales programs the right way. This also means we will have to change the way we do business and truly leverage the power of social media in the way it was intended… to provide value.
To learn more about how Sprinklr can help you improve your social selling practices, download our Visual Report for Financial Services.
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