Social Selling – How Businesses Can Boost Their Sales

Guest Post from Sudhir Kumar, Origin.

Not that long ago, consumers didn’t have information at their fingertips and businesses were often successful in using outbound sales and marketing methods such as cold calling and email blasts to close sales.

And, it’s been revealed that just 16% of organizations that use outbound methods feel it delivers ROI, 44% of direct mail is never opened, and 86% of consumers skip TV ads on recorded shows (Source: HubSpot)- Click to Tweet.

Today, the buyer and the buyer’s journey have changed thanks to the internet of things (IOT) and advancements in technology. Now, 57% of the purchase journey is completed before a customer has even contacted a business (CEB), and 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally (Source: SiriusDecisions). Click to Tweet

Added to this, in 2019, there were 3.48 billion active social media users worldwide, which presents a huge opportunity for businesses to take advantage of.

The rise of social media usage has encouraged organizations to look into ways that can utilize the technology to improve their sales, which has led to the development of social selling.

So, what is social selling and why should you care?

I define social selling as the process of researching, connecting and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks. It focuses on nurturing leads, building brand authenticity and building trust with your prospects.

Leading firms have taken advantage of social selling and have begun reaping the benefits it offers. Research has shown that 70% of sales professionals are active on LinkedIn for business purposes, 89% believe social networking platforms such as LinkedIn are important in closing deals and 64% of sales reps that invest time in social media are hitting their sales quota (Source: SuperOffice). Click to Tweet

As buyers are becoming more digitally savvy, social selling becomes a no-brainer. But to stand out from the noise on social media, it’s essential to provide value to your audience through high-quality content, insight and real conversations, to enhance each touchpoint that your audience has with you and your business, from awareness stage through to purchase.

What are the benefits that social selling offers?

  1. It appeals to the modern buyer

B2B buyers have 12 to 18 non-human and human interactions along their buyer’s journey (Source: Sirius Decisions) Click to Tweet. 68% of buyers prefer to research products and services online (Source: Forrester) Click to Tweet.

With this in mind, it’s essential that you develop and push information and content on social channels that resonate with your target audience and provide the solution to their problems.

This will enable you to influence their choices and position your business as front of mind.

2. It allows you to build “real” relationships

How many cold calls do you actually answer, listen to and respond to?

If you’re one of those people that frantically hangs up, cursing as you put your phone down you are not alone. Research from Citizens Advice has revealed that 67% of British adults say that have received an unwanted telephone call and 92% of people don’t trust companies whose sales representatives contact them by cold calling. Click to Tweet

With this said, it’s time for businesses to break down the barriers around selling and get on the same page as their customers. Social selling supports this, as through social media listening tools, you’re able to listen to topics and conversations that are relevant to your industry. This technique will not only give you insight into what’s important to your prospects but it’ll also present new opportunities and leads, giving you an easy way to engage and reach out to potential customers in an appropriate, non-intrusive way.

3. Your competitors are already using social selling

71% of all sales professionals are already using social selling tools, so if you aren’t you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage (Source: LinkedIn). Click to Tweet.

For example, Microsoft is one organization that has taken hold of the power of social selling. Their social selling pilot program started with 15 people selling Microsoft Azure through their LinkedIn accounts to find their own customers. This boosted the productivity of their team by 38% and led to the program scaling to 3,000+ sellers.

4. It builds your social capital

Social capital is built when someone in your LinkedIn network has a problem or an issue and they automatically think and turn to you for help. This will happen when you have positioned yourself correctly on social networks with your activity.

To gain social capital you’ll need to consider social proximity, and your connection philosophy. Instead of connecting with just anyone, connect with people in a targeted manner, and with those who you can genuinely help. Next, you’ll need to ensure your social presence is up to scratch.

Present and share your insight and knowledge and contribute towards discussions and groups to build it. This will enhance your online visibility and will strengthen your social capital.

5. The Mere Exposure Effect

The Mere Exposure Effect was first spoken about in 1968 by social psychologist Robert Zajonc. This social phenomenon states that the more a person is exposed to something, the more they’ll develop a preference towards that thing over time.

Social media gives businesses the ability to tap into this theory through regular and consistent posting and updates. When you’ve created and put into action a dedicated strategy, you can begin to utilize social media channels to your advantage and ensure that you have messages trickling through all the channels that your audiences use, creating multiple touchpoints with them.

However, it’s essential to remember to not just share sales messages and calls-to-action. Instead, share content that adds value to your followers, and offers insight and information.

If you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail…

The infamous quote from Benjamin Franklin couldn’t be truer when it comes to achieving social selling success.

To successfully leverage social selling, you need to optimize your social channels to showcase your expertise. And, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. For example, research from LinkedIn revealed that members with a photo receive 21x more profile views and nine times more connection requests compared to those that don’t. Click to Tweet

So, what do you need to do to give a positive first impression on your social channels?

Here are my top tips:

  • Post a professional head and shoulders image of yourself
  • Write your bio/summary to highlight your expertise and what you do on a professional level
  • Include links to your website and other social channels to encourage visits
  • Utilize hashtags that your prospects follow
  • Create lists on Twitter to monitor content from specific accounts
  • On LinkedIn include your job title and keywords in your headline, ask for recommendations to boost your credibility and join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry and begin networking in them

Social selling best practices

Once your profiles are ready to be rolled out it’s time to kick off your social selling strategy. Effective social selling takes time and must be consistent to build meaningful relationships with your audiences.

  • Dedicate yourself

Start by creating a plan and setting aside time to dedicate yourself to building your social presence. Being present on multiple social channels can be time consuming, but if you spend 30 minutes every day monitoring your channels, engaging with others and posting content it’ll help ease the pressures and ensure your feeds are always up to date.

  • Create and stick to a content plan

By creating and sticking to a content plan you’ll ensure that there is structure to your posting on LinkedIn.

The purpose of a content plan is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content that engages, resonates and attracts your target audience. In today’s social web environment, getting the right message to the right customer at the right time is crucial. And, to stay front of mind, build rapport and trust and position yourself as an expert, you’ll need to have a solid content plan in place.

  • Take advantage of social listening

Earlier I mentioned social listening, and it’s essential to factor it into your social selling strategy. So, create and use social lists and monitoring streams to collate what people are saying about you, your company, your industry and competitors, and identify what questions they’re asking and topics they are talking about.

  • Provide value

Focus your content on providing relevant, informative posts and content, when your audience wants it. This will position you as a thought-leader and build your personal brand. It’ll also help you create relationships with your prospects and gain their trust.

  • Maintain relationships once you’ve created them

Once you’ve made new connections it’s important to stay engaged with them over time. So, comment on and like the content that is posted by your prospects.

And, be sure to offer advice and guidance to them and contribute to their conversations in a meaningful way if they ask questions.

  • Share testimonials

Success stories from other customers have a lot of weight, and research from Pretty Links suggests 92% of buyers trust recommendations from peers and 70% trust recommendations from strangers. Click to Tweet

By gaining and sharing third party testimonials you’ll start to build your credibility with prospects and it’s more likely that they’ll begin to trust your business.

  • Track engagement

Tracking metrics such as likes, comments and shares will allow you to identify the types of content that resonates the most with your audience. And, it’ll enable you to determine if your social selling activities are paying off.

In addition, by establishing what content is getting the most engagement you can adjust your content so that you’re producing more of what is preferred by your audience. For example, if you notice content about a particular topic is getting high levels of engagement, this will suggest that your audience is interested it in, so why not produce more and give your audience what they want?

  • Understand when to take your connections offline

To land a sale you’ll need to escalate the connection with a prospect by offering them a call to continue the conversation offline and on a deeper level. And, it’s important not to try and push a call before prospects are ready as this will damage all of your nurturing efforts.

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Sudhir Kumar is marketing director at Origin Blurbs. For more information like this article please connect with him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sudhirkumarorigin.

Content Is Fire, Social Media is Gasoline

In 2013 Dave Kerpen shared a post on LinkedIn entitled Content Is Fire, Social Media is Gasoline.  Within the post he discusses the importance of keeping it real while also keeping it relevant. If your social media informs more often than it promotes, you’re on the right track. If it is deeply helpful rather than deeply promotional, you’re probably on a roll.

To get a better sense for how businesses can use content and social media together to be successful, Dave Kerpen asked Jay Baer to summarize the concepts of his book Youtility. Within the book he shares information regarding the concept of using marketing to promote your marketing.  Brands often talk too often on social media and miss the mark by never saying anything other than “we’re great” and “buy buy buy.” With so many updates constantly on social media brands are competing for attention, and can do so easily by being useful, not by shouting louder. 

Dave uses the company ExactTarget as an example, sharing two tweets back to back.  The first is a corporate message less relevant to a wider twitter audience.  The second is a real time tweet which created content on the most popular Olympic sports based on followers, which was sent during the London Olympic games.  The infographic has no information abut ExactTarget’s products and services, rather it used real time relevancy to create interest and to showcase some of it’s products (it has a software allowing companies to monitor and engage on twitter).

Content is everywhere, you can’t help but consume it within your everyday life.  Everyone has something they want to share with the world and we are constantly taking that information in.  We put content out there through the tools of social networks, leveraging sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on.

“Content is fire. Social Media is Gasoline.” – Jay Baer

Jay-Baer-fire-gasoline

Social media is what sparks our message and keeps the fire burning faster and brighter. Our number one tool so get our content and our message out there is the social media, and once we start the process, we need to keep feeding our fire.

“You cannot create without first consuming something.” -Jill Falk

Within my role I’m consuming content about 90% of my day.  I wake up each morning and check my Twitter account before even stepping out of bed.  I download two newspapers each morning to read on my ipad during my 40 minute train each morning.  I often sit next to my husband silently who does the same, and shares some additional content he finds on the various apps he checks into such as flipboard or good reader.  At work I build social media strategies to help boost the content my company created, and I often get emails on my work and personal accounts with content my friends, family, and co-workers find interesting.

It’s part of my job to keep up with these things, and also get myself out there.  I send tweets more than I pickup a phone, and I am guilty of constantly checking and updating my social notworks, I admit it, i’m totally addicted.  I learn new things everyday using social media and it keeps me up to date with what’s going on in the world and what is going on with my friends and family.  After we delivered our son and shared the moment with close friends and family, hours later I posted a photo and watched it spread like wildfire, the texts, calls, and messages rolled in.  I remember turning to my husband totally overwhelmed and overjoyed with the amount of messages I had to respond too, and it took me almost two weeks to circle back with everyone!

I always remember Jay’s words, “Content is the fire, social media is the gasoline.” Keep feeding your fire and keep it going!  Do what you love, and enjoy!

Four Metrics to Better Evaluate and Optimize Your Social Media Content

It’s important to constantly evaluate and optimize your best social media content to ensure your feeding content into an engaged and active audience.  Whether you’re a large brand or a blogger, if you’re spending time creating and sharing content no one is interested in, well, you’re just waiting your time!  Avinash Kaushik’s four major social media metrics were designed in a 2011 blog post to address the way in which we evaluate our social media performance.  Both Moz and Buffer use Kaushik’s social methods within their social media marketing, and theres an analytics tool, True Social Metrics, based solely upon his metrics.

Kaushik’s four metrics are:

1) Conversion Rate: The number of conversations per post.  For example, on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn (comments), on Twitter (replies).

2) Amplification Rate– The number of reshares or retweets per post.

3) Applause Rate- The volume of ReTweets, Likes, +1’s, and so on.

4) Economic Value– The sum of short term revenue, long term revenue, and cost savings.

How To Evaluate And Optimize Your Best Social Media Content: 5 New Methods To Try Today image Amplification

Kaushik’s four metrics can be found across every social channel as they are independent of the individual social media networks.  The four metrics are now more easily measurable due to tools and free analytics such as:

  • The release of expanded twitter analytics which now allows you to easily view impressions, engagements, engagement rates, and much more information for free.
  • Social Media Examiner shared a comprehensive excel spreadsheet for evaluation and optimizing social media content.  The spreadsheet includes 14 different variables for each social media post including likes, shares, clicks, engagement and more.
  • Buffer allows you to stack social media updates across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms and gives fantastic free analytics on retweets, mentions, favorites, clicks and more, as well as recommendations as to when to schedule and optimize content.
  • In my opinion the economic value is the hardest part to track within Kaushik’s metrics. At work we use a BitLy Google Analytics shortening tool from Setaris which allows you to measure specific keywords and campaigns through to conversions easily within google analytics, and shorten and track your links posted as well.

It’s important to consider Kaushik’s four metrics, and review and evaluate your social media content to ensure it’s always optimized and functioning well.  if you’ve got a tool or article you’ve read which has more information or insight, please share within the comments, or send me a tweet @MarissaPick. Thanks!

Five Simple Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing Success

Inspired by a slideshare posted by Natascha Thomson, The 10 Rules of B2B Social Media MarketingI wanted to share my top five rules for B2B Social Media Marketing Success.  Let me know if you agree, or what rules you follow by tweeting me @MarissaPick.

#1: BREAK THE RULES AND HAVE FUN!

  • Social media provides a way for marketers to test the waters and try something new.  Social media is an exciting and new space to experiment, and see major returns.  Break the rules, have a little fun, and as a brand let your corporate hair down.  Social media gives a behind the scenes look into a person or brand, and can help to facilitate deeper engagement with your audience.

#2: KNOWING WHAT TO DO IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT NOT TO DO

  • Every social media campaign needs a strategy, and it’s crucial to understand your goals. Knowing what you want to accomplish and how you will measure success is crucial before you launch any campaign.  All social media platforms are not the same, so leveraging the proper channels, and having a way to measure your campaign is so very important, and sadly often over looked. Think strategically and decide what you’re going to do before you launch, and start small, you can always expand once you have results.

#3: SOCIAL MEDIA ACTUALLY WORKS!

  • Natascha shared a great statistic from Forrester Research within her SlideShare deck, “85% of business decision-­‐makers said at least one social media channel is important when making technology purchase decisions.”  Social Media has the power to influence the decision makers.  When leveraged properly social media channels are a great place to share content to help influence and drive decision making at the very early stages.  Make sure you have solid content which targets and engages with  your audience.

#4: ENGAGEMENT = ESSENTIAL

  • Social Media is a platform to drive conversation and any post should always focus around engagement.  It doesn’t matter if you have 20,000 or 200 followers, what matters is that you have a captive and engaged audience.  I find visual content works well for my account to drive the RTs, Likes, and Shares.
  • Quick Tip: Find a quote or stat and download the Quoter App. It’s a great tool to brighten up your content, and quickly share on social media.  I shared the quote below from MarketingProfs Ann Handley during the recent NYC Social Media Week.  Since posting this to my account it has generated 45 ReTweets and 38 Favorites making this one of my most popular posts to date
  • Bg7px1pIcAA033h

#5: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

  • Why should your audience follow you, and what’s in it for them? You need to answer this question, and them means the people within your social media community.  It’s crucial to wear their hats and build content which excites, engages, and motivates your audience. Know your audience’s needs, and be the source they go to get information and content. This takes me back to the top rule, always have fun and mix it up!

Ten Tips for Using Social Media to Further Your Career

Ten Tips for Using Social Media to Further Your Career

It’s no surprise that as we enter into 2014 we’ve seen a social media explosion.  Now there’s over 800 million people connecting with each other on social media networks including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and many more. I had the privilege of joining Sarah Lawrence, senior associate, DLA Piper; Lucy McNulty, managing editor, IFLR; and Callum Sinclair, partner, DLA Piper on a webcast run by International Financial Law Review (IFLR) and sponsored by DLA Piper on using social media to further your career. This webcast was the first in IFLR’s Women in Business Law Group’s webinar series.  We each explained our experience and insights into how the rise of social media has fundamentally changed, and how we each communicate within our professional worlds.   At the bottom of this post is the slide share of the powerpoint deck we used during our presentation, and if you would like to access and listen to the webinar broadcast please visit this link.

During the Q&A portion of the webcast, one of the questions directed to me focused on best practice for the use of social media platforms. Below are my top ten tips for utilizing social media to advance your reputation and further your career.. 

  1. Stand out within your social media profiles. On twitter you have only 140 characters to tell the world who you are, so make your profile catchy and interesting.  Although this seems basic, many profiles across social media are missing photos, contact information, and other crucial data.  Highlighting your interest, job duties, location and other keywords helps people find out more about you.  In addition, consider cross promoting your other social media platforms as well to boost your digital footprint.  If you want to be taken seriously online, including a link within your profile is encouraged; for example feature your LinkedIn profile within your twitter bio to make easy for people to connect with you. 
  2. Lock It Down. What happens online doesn’t stay online.  We live in a world within limited privacy, so as your setting up your social media profiles make sure to check your privacy settings and ensure they’re set properly. As employees we are a representation of the company which employs us, so remember to think before you post, or you can be held liable.
  3. Transparency is key in building and maintaining a strong reputation.  Be honest, respectful, and mindful across all social media platforms.  It’s important to be open and transparent, this makes people relate to you.  It’s important to align your online persona with your offline personalty to avoid trouble. 
  4. Content is King. The key to any social media strategy whether you’re trying to advance your career or increase your businesses visibility should focus around a solid content marketing plan.  What you share across social media platforms should be interesting and engaging for others to enjoy, read, and share.  All social media platforms are not a one size fits all model, it’s important to craft posts for each social networks to maximize and leverage content.   As a reminder content doesn’t always have to be original.  Test quotes, statistics, and visual content and images across social media and see what works best.
  5. Incorporate Images.  Visual social marketing is the next generation of social media.  90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visually based, and the human brains processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Utilize social media tools Instagram & Vine which let you embed posts and videos easily, and use free apps like Quoter which provide ready to go quotes, or let quickly create a visual image.  Mix it up and create content that is visually pleasing and easily shareable. 
  6. Become an authority and add value. Choose a focus, and share information relevant to your niche career area. Join LinkedIn groups, start discussions and comment on existing discussions, find and engage within Twitter chats, and most importantly always add value.  As you engage more within social media you will gain the trust of others who will follow you to find information.  As you focus and carve our a niche area, you will build trust, and people will begin to share your content and come to you for advice.
  7. Establish Yourself Offline. Establishing yourself as a brand both online and offline allows people to put a face to your name.  Nothing takes the place of face to face interaction, so ideally building a strong online presence can translate to building a stronger and larger network of offline connections.
  8. Stay up on Digital Trends: Demonstrating your proficiency with all things digital shows you’re up on digital trends, which are currently affecting every company.  Employers are increasingly looking for social media and digital proficiency in potential employees.
  9. Make time.  Social Media is easy, but it does take time, carve out an hour a week at a minimum to go in spend within social media platforms.  Setting up a social media profile is a great first step, but as with anything else it takes time and a comfort level to become successful. If you’re going to let your platforms sit and never update them, why bother even setting up a profile?
  10. Have Fun.  Social Media is a great place to have fun and let your corporate hair down.  Whether your using social media to advance your career, or build your business remember to utilize your profiles as an avenue to have fun!

Please share your feedback below in the comments section, or tweet me @MarissaPick.

Social Media Revolution

The power of social media is it forces necessary change.- Erik Qualman 

One of the most powerful and impactful video’s i’ve ever seen was created by international best selling author and keynote speaker Erik Qualman.  Social Media Revolution 4 is one of the most social-media watched video’s in the world with over 317k views (hence four installments).

The most powerful stat in my opinion is that Social Media has now become the #1 activity on the Web. For those of you who aren’t “sold” or ready to commit to social media, I urge you to watch the short 4 minute video, and I’m sure you’ll be as blown away by some of the stats, as they really speak for themselves:

1. Social media has overtaken porn as the No. 1 activity on the Web. (source)

2. If Facebook was a country, it would be the world’s third largest and twice the size of the U.S. population. (source)

3. Roughly two new member joins LinkedIn every second. (source)

4. Lady GagaJustin Bieber and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of North Korea, Australia, Chile, Israel, Sweden, Greece … (source)

5. 69 percent of parents are “friends” with their children on social media. (source)

6. If Wikipedia was made into a book, it would be 2.25 million pages long. (source)

Enjoy 🙂

-MP