How to Incorporate Social Media into Your Sales Process
It’s no longer a bold statement to say that your organization needs to be in the social game if you plan to achieve optimal sales productivity.
Social media helps sales organizations drive pipeline by (1) engaging with buyers earlier in the sales cycle, (2) maintaining relationships with current customers and (3) demonstrating valuable market insight. Eighty-seven percent of decision makers in B2B sales organizations spend time researching products and services on social media.
Just like having a website in the 1990s, buyers are now judging the legitimacy of an organization based on their presence (or lack thereof) on social media. Research shows that salespeople who use social media are more successful, but how does a sales organization begin to embrace social activities as part of a sales process? The first step is to recognize that social selling isn’t your magic bullet.
Creating an account on LinkedIn or Twitter doesn’t mean that the leads will start pouring in and the sales will practically close themselves. In fact, you can get hundreds of followers, thousands of likes, and even make valuable connections, but if you don’t employ a system of capitalizing on these interactions, you’ll never see the kind of return that drives bottom-line impact.
With social media, salespeople are able to engage with prospects and current customers, demonstrate value and differentiation and gain access to individuals with whom they couldn’t get to before.
The true value of social media comes only when you as an organization are able to bridge the gaps between your buyer, your social platform and your sales process. Social media isn’t a quick fix, but incorporating it into your sales process in a way that drives repeatability will set your organization up to reap social selling rewards.
Integrating Social Selling Into Your Sales Process
While you may get lucky here and there, a customer is unlikely to make a purchase based on your social media posts. Social selling isn’t a new way to sell. It represents one more tool in a seller’s tool belt - one that can help you execute on your critical sales skills: uncovering customer needs, articulating value and differentiation and positioning value.
Here are Four Ways to Integrate Social Selling Into Your Sales System:
1. Right Place, Right Time:
Social media can be used for far more than just making connections with new prospects. Use social to answer questions and continually demonstrate value throughout your sales process and even with current customers. With the growth of the connected buyer, salespeople play a huge role in customer retention and life cycle satisfaction. Providing your salespeople with a rhythm that defines social activities as part of their sales process will help them use social throughout the sales and customer engagement process
2. Consistent Messaging:
Social media is often owned by an organization’s marketing team. However, since social media can help a sales organization reach buyers earlier in the sales cycle, it is important for sales to participate in the overall social media strategy. As with any customer-facing materials, it is critical that sales and digital marketing work together to create message consistency. A defined process that helps sales organizations leverage marketing’s digital content will help drive consistency and repeatability.
3. Regular Engagement:
One social media post is only going to get you so far. The key to capturing the true value of social selling is to make it consumable for your sales team. Provide a process that enables your salespeople to engage regularly without it monopolizing their time. Here are some tips:
- Use software technology to schedule posts throughout the week
- Schedule time every day, even if it’s only 10 minutes, to engage on social media
- During your scheduled time, respond to posts, retweets, or mentions (try to do this within 24 hours)
- Search, or “explore” for new connections using hashtags or following trending topics
- Set a weekly goal that puts purpose behind your social activities
4. Post with Intention:
Intention might be the most important part of the social media process. If you engage with a person on social media, have a purpose. Whether it’s simply to increase your visibility, or to set up a sales call, every interaction should serve a purpose. Defining that purpose will help your sales team see the value of their engagement, rather than the burden of one more thing they need to do with their time.