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With the rise of the Internet and social networks, the notion of social selling has gradually imposed itself in sales jargon. In fact, the buyer now has 24/7 access to information about the products or services that interest him. We can even speak of a reversal of powers, the customer already knowing a lot about the offers offered, the classic discourse of salespeople is no longer effective. 60% of the purchase decision would even be already made without the buyer having met the seller yet. It is therefore a major challenge for the salesperson to renew his speech and especially to adapt it to the person he has in front of him. This is where we can then speak of social selling. Sales representatives have the possibility, thanks to social networks in particular, to contact their prospects at any time, and to obtain a lot of information on their profile in order to better target their communication. However, practicing social selling requires a certain methodology, 92% of the best salespeople already use it, so why not you? Find out what are the advantages of a social selling strategy and how to apply it to your business.
Definition of social selling
Social selling is a concept that appeared in 2009 in academic research. Then, Linkedin relied on this theory to launch in 2013 a new software offer (Sales Solutions), relying on the database of contacts that everyone can have on social networks to make it a sales force. Thus, social selling is an approach which consists in using social networks in its search for new customers. It would therefore replace cold calling, which is less and less effective today, in order to generate new leads. This social selling action is primarily used by salespeople in the B2B sector, and mainly on the social network LinkedIn.
In a B2B context, social selling refers to the set of practices that consist of using professional social networks for sales development. In practice and in the Western context, social selling largely boils down to the use of the social network LinkedIn and to a lesser extent Twitter.
Social selling is reflected in daily individual practices on the part of salespeople, but also in real business strategies and systems put in place by B2B players. Social selling is obviously complementary to other sales and marketing techniques.
The general objectives assigned to a social selling strategy are generally:
- the sourcing of prospects
- the response to LinkedIn "calls for tender" from theactivity social sourcing.
- work on the image and the perceived expertise of the organization and its members
- a mission of "relationship marketing" as well to prospects and clients
- a complementary role to adevice lead management / lead nurturing
- obtaining recommendations that can come from non-client relationships or followers
- making contact in warm calling (which can also be done in another context; email, telephone, ...)
To achieve these objectives, social selling includes a wide variety of actions undertaken by individuals or managed by more or less automated systems:
- detection of strong or weak signals (appointments, fundraising, job offers, search for a service provider, etc.)
- development, enhancement and optimization of individual or corporate accounts
- human or automated monitoring of exchanges, comments and publications
- individual or corporate publication activity (content marketing)
- relay of s elements of content marketing published elsewhere and relaying physical events
- daily monitoring of each networks
- "social relationship marketing" practices (recommendations, congratulations, etc.)
- search for recommendations
salesperson's- direct contact (by network, inmail LinkedIn or eventechniques growth hacking)
- use of advertising offers
- establishment or completion of business maps
It is probably possible to distinguish two forms of social selling with B2B purposes. One "soft" that we could qualify as soft social selling and the other more "brutal" which would then be "hard" or "cold 'social selling.
Soft social selling would then materialize by a very qualitative approach. based on the quality and relevance of the content produced (publications, comments, curation, ...) and by relational authenticity (recommendations, congratulations, etc.) allowing the "natural" and progressive construction of a network and facilitating Making contacts. This is then the "noble" version of social selling.
"Hard" social selling would for its part be based largely on automation techniques, mass following and LinkedIn scraping that sometimes qualifies as growth hacking. The contacts thus generated are thus essentially exploited by cold calling or cold messaging.
In practice, these two forms of social selling have fuzzy boundaries, are obviously not exclusive and can be re used in complementary ways.
In terms of corporate social selling strategies and systems, these are most often accompanied by awareness-raising / training actions for sales forces, the establishment of social charters and the integration of data into source of professional social networks in lead management / CRM systems. A social selling system can also include an “employee ambassador” component.
If social selling practices can undoubtedly prove to be effective, it is nevertheless possible to think that, as for many other digital marketing levers, marginal returns should decrease with the intensification of practices and a certain saturation of targets. The potential of social selling linked in particular to LinkedIn is eroding in the face of the exponential development of content and interactions, which are thus becoming less visible. In the field, we should see an evolution "à la Facebook" in the context of which the paying channel will be used more and more to make content visible.
Social selling is the of counterpart social buying on the buyer side. For more details on social selling practices in a B2B context and associated techniques, see the thematic glossary of social selling and LinkedIn marketing.
Why orient your strategy towards B2B social selling?
Social selling is therefore a major weapon for commercial prospecting. Professionals being above all present on social networks and in particular, the presence of sales representatives on them is therefore essential. Indeed, the amount of information they can collect on their potential prospects is enormous, whether it is via the posts they like, share, comment on, the people they follow, their interests, etc. This therefore allows them to sort through all this information, and to personalize their contact as much as possible. Customers, even B2B ones, are indeed no longer interested at all in spam messages sent to hundreds of people. On the contrary, they are much more sensitive to those who are personally addressed to them. For example, during traditional telephone canvassing as was done a lot in the past, only 1% of calls lead to an appointment. In addition, 59% of decision-makers no longer want to deal with salespeople and 75% make their purchasing choice on the internet. Social selling therefore seems to be the answer to this paradigm shift. It is certainly always salespeople who prospect, but the personalization of their messages and their presence on social networks humanize the relationship they have with the prospect and therefore is much more accepted by the latter.
Once the business prospecting has been completed, social selling is also a wonderful sales tool. In fact, 54% of sales reps say they have made a sale through social selling !
How to do B2B social selling effectively on Linkedin?
Social selling is a relevant solution in your search for B2B leads, that's for sure. But how can you be as efficient as possible?
Measure Your Social Selling Index (SSI)
Before you begin, measure your starting Social Selling Index so you know where you're from and how you stack up against your peers. According to Linkedin, “ The Social Selling Index (SSI) measures your effectiveness in establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, communicating with the right information and building relationships. ". The 4 pillars on which the Social Selling Index is based (establishing a professional brand, finding the right people, exchanging information, building relationships) are each rated out of 25, thus giving a score out of 100. One person very little active obtains about a score of 20, while a very active person will be between 80 and 100.
Take care of your personal profile to create your professional brand
A salesperson on Linkedin must embody a professional brand of expert in his field of activity. Your profile should not be created as a CV, but should allow you to highlight what your buyers are looking for in you. Your buyers will not be looking for a salesperson but for a specialist in such and such a field. Your LinkedIn profile should look like the way you present yourself in a professional meeting. It is particularly important to look after this one because it is the first impression that you will give of yourself.
So, put a professional photo, take care of your presentation title, put a summary presenting your skills and how they are put to the service of your customers.
Don't forget to put a Call To action with your contact details to invite your prospects to get in touch with you.
Grow your networks by asking your prospects in relation
Social selling is particularly interesting during the commercial prospecting phase because it allows a much more effective action and immediately targets interesting profiles according to your sector of activity. These profiles logically correspond to your personas, your ideal customers. To make this selection, all you need to do is go to Linkedin and perform a search by specifying the criteria that interest you (position, location, sector of activity, etc.). Then, once you've identified the potential prospects, ask them in touch.
Quality or quantity for your professional network on LinkedIn? Well, ideally, the 2 my captain! There is no point in having a very large network with people who are not of professional interest to you. On the other hand, it is particularly interesting to have a very large network with all of your related commercial targets!
Why ? First of all because by having them in relation N ° 1, you will have free access to their contact details. About 30% of people enter their professional email (the remaining 70% are personal emails) and 40% their phone.
You will also be able to export the contact details of all your contacts to Excel for free.
To do so, go to LinkedIn in preferences and confidentiality, then confidentiality, then in how LinkedIn uses your data, then in download your data.
By having a maximum of your targets in relation, you can also send them free Inmail for your commercial prospecting.
Finally, you will make your communications (posts) visible to a large number of your targets.
Building Engagement Through Social Selling
Now that you know how to approach the contacts you are interested in, let's walk you through how to get even more relevant contacts to you without you sending them a single message. Being on social media is good, but sharing content on it is even better. And by regularly sharing (once or several times a week) quality content on your own profile, about your industry, you will interest your contact base. Indeed, if you have carefully selected her, she will be interested in the issues you are dealing with because she is facing them. So, do not hesitate for example to share your blog articles. Contacts interested in this subject will see that you effectively master it, that you are professional on the subject and therefore have confidence in yourself. As a result, when they have the urge or the need to make the purchase, they will naturally contact you because you have already proven yourself in the past. Plus, word of mouth can be more powerful than you think, so your professionalism can go beyond your simple circle of contacts.
Interacting regularly with your contacts is really essential in a social selling process. Whether by comments, private messages or content shared on your profile, you highlight in this way your professionalism and your skills. Plus, the more active you are, the more you will be remembered when needed.
Get sales reps to work with the marketing team
This is the last step in making your social selling strategy a success. The main mission of salespeople is to "hunt" new targets to convert into customers. On the other hand, they are not necessarily qualified to create the right content according to the target person and their buying cycle. It is indeed more the role of marketing. It is therefore very important to make the two poles work together in order to carry out the most effective strategy possible. We also discussed the fact of integrating the collected leads into the company's CRM database. This allows the two teams to follow each other's progress in the purchasing process and therefore adapt the new types of content that will be offered to them.
You are now aware of the main best practices of B2B social selling, whether it is to attract new leads, contact them in the most effective way, the benefits you can expect to reap from them or the things to remember to do . To go further, do not hesitate to contact us to find out how to use LinkHelp in your social selling process !
1) The first step in generating leads is generating traffic
So it all starts, attracting visitors
There is no point in knowing the reasons for successful lead generation if you haven't generated qualified traffic to your site first.
By creating relevant content, because it responds to the problems that your audience is asking, you will bring visitors to your site. An inbound marketing strategy effective is first and foremost about creating content.
Nothing like a blog to write and provide educational, regular content that generates interest and visits.
Then share your content by relaying it on social networks and encouraging sharing. You will then engage your potential prospects, and you will make yourself more accessible, open and sympathetic. Start the conversation and unite a community.
Also think SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by optimizing your search engine positioning to appear on the first page. Put yourself in your audience's shoes, what will they look for on search engines to get to your content? This is how you will define the appropriate keywords and position your content.
Visitors yes, but not only
Any good Inbound marketing strategy starts with analyzing the profile of your target, your buyers personas. This analysis will allow you to define who you want to attract to your site, and what problems your buyer personas have to answer them appropriately.
Because your potential customers will seek to answer their problems independently, you must consider the different stages they go through in order to position yourself on each of them. We're talking about the Buyer's journey here. In their buying journey, your potential customer will go through several stages. Awareness, the consideration phase and the decision phase do not generate the same questions. Your content marketing strategy must allow your content to be differentiated according to the stages crossed by your buyer personas, and their degrees of maturity.
Generating leads first requires defining the profile of your target. Make sure you are able to provide educational content, which will help your buyers personas through the various stages of problem solving until the final decision.
83% of B2B marketers use a content creation strategy to generate leads. (Content Marketing Institute)
2) To turn your visitor into a lead, invite them to take action
One click, split second that engages your target
One click, one, and you've already passed one of the first conversion steps.
Called CTA (Call-To-Action), it is a simple but terribly effective button or image with a clear goal: to make its target click so that it can go further in its thinking!
Unlike a classic link, the CTA aims to catch the reader's eye and arouse curiosity.
It is the first strategic element of a generation of Lead because it gives your reader the choice to know more about what he is reading. By the simple act of clicking, he goes from an anonymous visitor to an interested reader seeking to know more ... in other words a potential customer.
One click, to arouse curiosity
In order to fulfill its function as a CTA, this button must have several characteristics:
- Strong colors - to stand out from the crowd while respecting the graphic charter
- A delimited box - to attract the reader's
- eye A catchy title - to understand in one sentence the added value offered by your company
- A synthetic subtitle - to highlight the benefits of such an offer
- A simple button - to complete the action quickly and lead to your landing page
One click, which is placed in the right place
The position of your CTA is a strategic factor that must meet two opposing objectives:
- The first is to attract the attention of your reader, and therefore be visible.
- The second is that of not disturbing him in his reading so as not to appear disruptive, and therefore to remain discreet.
Although there is no defined rule to perfectly position your CTA, there are good practices to consider in order to position it efficiently. Then it's up to you to monitor and test different configurations to achieve the best conversion rate.
Be aware that a reader might not necessarily read a blog post as a whole, so it's common to set different CTA sizes. A discreet size that you will slip in from the first paragraphs of your article, another more important that you will position at the bottom of your article.
You can also think about placing it in your sidebar if you are using one.
In order to define the optimal positions for your CTA on your page, we recommend that you perform tests and analyzes. The current test is the one called A / B Tests.
It aims to create two types (A and B) of page with CTAs placed in different places. Distribute these pages to different groups of visitors to analyze the impression statistics, the click-through rate and the conversion rate that each of its pages will generate, and thus define the best performing.
3) To finalize the conversion, guide them on a dedicated page
A clear landing page
This is a place in its own right, where the conversion of a lead takes place. The landing page is a page on your site, created to offer a counterpart to the exchange of information about your audience. Your landing page should be an aside, a page that creates a positive experience for your reader by offering high added value information such as a white paper or an expert report.
It has an essential role, which must be looked after.
A single objective page
The first rule of an optimal landing page is its centralization / concentration on a single subject and a single action offered to your audience. In order not to scatter your future lead, it only establishes one clearly presented proposal that is linked to a coherent CTA.
Through its writing, the landing page must allow readers not to be distracted by facts other than that of discovering the interest of the offer proposed by the company and to exchange it with its data. Each of your campaigns brings traffic that the landing page will convert into Lead. It is advisable to create a landing page for each operation.
The more your landing page will be optimized, clear and relevant, the more likely you will be to generate qualified leads.
A page with strategic characteristics Like
the CTA guiding on the landing page, it must have several characteristics to maximize lead generation:
- A main title, a crucial element that clearly sets out the subject and the general benefit
- A sub-title, in reinforcement, which offers more information on the content offered
- A visual of the content, to have a clear idea of the gain
- A concise description of the benefits
- A form containing only the fields that are necessary for you to qualify your prospects
Additional elements can support your speech and strengthen the interest of your offer:
- Videos, images to further present your offer
- A client or expert testimony to add credibility to the added value offered and gain confidence
After clicking on your CTA for the purpose to get more information on a topic that interests them, your reader will be directed to a landing page. It is designed to tell them about premium content, with clarity and simplicity, and to invite them to enter their contact details if they wish to download the content.
55% more leads is what companies observe when they go from 10 to 15 landing pages. (HubSpot)
4) To make him want to follow you, bring real added value
Premium content with high added value
If you have nothing of interest to offer, you are not going to generate a lead. The reason that drives your visitor to fill in their information is the desire to get the content you offer them.
You must provide free, easily downloadable educational content in exchange for data.
After creating blog articles, in order to attract your target, you will create more in-depth content, deepening the subject and generating leads.
Premium content therefore aims to respond to the problems and needs of your buyers personas by providing qualitative and quantitative content, by providing detail or additional help.
Create rarity, exclusivity, so-called premium content and relevance. These are the right ingredients for special content. The content should be of sufficient value that the visitor is ready to enter the conversion process.
Various tools depending on the context
Many supports can be created to meet the needs of your potential client.
Your premium content will allow you to generate leads and position yourself as an expert in your field. The more you respond to issues in your industry, the more you will be able to increase your chances of generating leads and positioning yourself on the different stages of the Buyer journey.
Different media can be used:
- White paper
- Free training
Think about promoting your Premium content on social networks by sharing the link of your landing page leading to download the content.
The added value will depend on the number of leads generated. The more interesting your content will be for their issues, relevant, well presented and adapted to their context, the more your buyer personas will be interested in retrieving it.
5) To know if your leads are mature, qualify the leads
Getting your lead to maturity
After the step of converting visitors into, comes that of converting into customers. A step requiring collaborative work between the marketing and sales teams.
The premise is clear: your visitor has just downloaded an ebook on a particular subject that you have suggested, but that does not directly make him a future customer.
The key is to know how a visitor, who has shown a clear interest in your content, can become a real customer.
Don't make the mistake of putting all the leads in one basket, and thinking they're all at the same stage of thinking.
The Lead who corresponds to your buyer persona and who is ready to make his buying decision, is a qualified and mature lead. It is at this stage that salespeople take action.
Define lead scoring
You will have to put in place certain strategies and tools in order to prioritize your leads according to their involvement with your website and your content. You need to determine what makes a lead mature.
This prioritization will then allow you to prioritize your actions.
To do this, you can perform lead scoring. Namely, assigning points based on the actions of your visitors. With every action, such as downloading a white paper, you will give your visitors X points. This attribution or remuneration according to each of his acts on your site, will allow you to define if this visitor is mature, ready to make the purchase and therefore to get in touch with your sales department or not. Marketing automation tools will allow you to score your leads and initiate the right actions automatically when a prospect reaches maturity.
According to 67% of B2B marketers, lead nurturing increases sales opportunities by at least 10%.
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