How to Use Social Selling to Boost Demand Generation

social_selling_main.pngIn A Four-Step Media Strategy That Pays Off, Scott Vaughan gives great tips to put more strategy and discipline into your social media strategy. Today’s top performing salespeople are setting themselves apart from the competition through targeted social selling efforts.

LinkedIn defines social selling as “leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately, achieve your sales goals.” LinkedIn is “all in” on this concept, even creating a Social Selling Index (SSI).

As a modern demand marketer, it’s important to consider social selling as yet another channel in your marketing toolbox. I’m challenging you to think about social selling in a broader sense – specifically, how to create an army of social sharers throughout the entire organization, implementing a social selling strategy with the sales team and beyond.

Many companies are having success with social selling programs rolled out to the entire organization, including sales, marketing, customer success and customer service teams. Anyone in your organization who interacts with a prospect or customer one-on-one is capable of helping advance your social selling strategy, and should be considered part of any demand marketer’s social channel strategy. Here are six tips to get your entire organization excited about social selling and contributing to your demand generation strategy:

1. Make it easy.

Choose a tool to help enable and track the social selling efforts of your entire organization. Load content into an easy-to-access library or interface where anyone inside of your organization can easily find it. Do the organizational work for your team – organize content by common sales objections or topic areas so employees can easily find applicable content for real-world situations.

Don’t assume employees will go to your website, search for applicable blog posts, then share it with prospects. (Hint: They will not.) Track social sharing through your social management tool and/or marketing automation platform, so you can see the impact of this channel on your overall demand generation.

2. Make it fun.

Create individual and team rewards for the top content sharers. Most social media management tools will allow you to display rankings of who is being the most socially active on behalf of the company.

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Be sure to share this information through email, company announcements, internal newsletters, meetings, display it on monitors and whiteboards, etc. Often the reward of recognition is enough to motivate most employees.

3. Make it competitive.

Traditionally we think of the sales team as being the most competitive group in a company, but don’t overlook the competitive nature of other teams too. Most employees today have their own robust social networks which can produce great prospects and potential customers.

Anyone who touches a prospect 1:1 should be considered an ambassador for your brand, and therefore can help with your social selling efforts.

4. Make it useful.

If your employees feel like they are helping the prospect or customer, they will be more likely to share content. Whether they are in sales, customer success or marketing, everyone feeds off the personal relationships they develop with prospects and customers. The non-sales, frontline employees often have the best chance of influencing a prospect, simply because they are not trying to sell them something.

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When content is written to solve a customer problem vs trying to sell something, employees feel good about sharing and prospects feel good about receiving. Be sure to communicate with your team when new, useful content is available for them to share; likewise, don’t be afraid to showcase “oldie but goodie” content pieces that may have been forgotten but are still great performers.

Pro Tip for Post-Sale: Remember to think about social selling efforts after a prospect becomes a customer, for a consistent customer experience throughout the entire buying cycle. Content that is created for the ToFU (top of funnel) usually also fulfills a customer need after they’ve purchased too.

5. Repeat yourself. Again. And again.

Once you’ve created a social selling program, talk about it frequently. Write a plan and share it will all teams in the company. Encourage your CEO and executive leadership to reinforce a social selling mindset throughout the organization. Share the social sales strategy from the mountain tops, and highlight key wins. Then repeat. Again and again.

You will likely see early adoption and then periods of waning activity. It’s important to continue refreshing and reinforcing a social selling mindset on an ongoing basis. Employees will come and go, so you need to constantly refresh the new regime on the social selling DNA of the company.

People will say, “I can’t find any content about xxx,” even though you know you have umpteen pieces of content on that particular topic area. The fact remains, it doesn’t matter how easy you make it to find the content, there will always be someone who can’t find it. Stay calm and politely show them where to find what they need.

6. Make an example.

The best way to create good behavior is to continually reward good behavior. Make an example out of the most prolific and effective social sellers, especially when you have a chance to reward a frontline employee who has a great relationship with customers. Ask winners to share and celebrate success stories.

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One of the best success stories I’ve witnessed is a customer who wrote the CEO to effuse praise about how she felt her salesperson treated the buying process more like a courtship than a buying process. At every point in the process, the prospect was delivered just the right piece of content or gentle nudge to help her through the process, even when she didn’t know what she needed.

By applying the right amount of pressure with a lot of giving and sharing along the way, this customer willingly went from prospect to customer, and felt like she was on the same team as her salesperson. What a testament to the skills of this salesperson! When you can achieve this kind of partnership with customers, it is social selling at its best.

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