As someone who has seen the inception of the then neoteric phenomenon called ‘social media’ and seen it branch out into spheres other than just informal schmoozing, I often find myself asking “is there anything that I’m missing?” It’s interesting to have witnessed the evolution of social media up close, use it, understand it, embrace it, and most importantly, wield it to help our clients achieve their branding and marketing goals.
While the elephantine potentiality of social media was realized by marketers long time ago, it has, however, always been eulogized in terms of the profitability and empowerment it offers to the buyers but the spotlight hasn’t quite been trained on how it has changed the rules (for good) for people who are the important cogs of the business machine – the salespeople.
Enter social selling – a buzzword that you might have caught in a blog post, or heard someone toss it in one of those social media strategy sessions. To put it simply, social selling is using the power of social media to conquer hearts and sales by means of thoughtful content unlike social media marketing, which is primarily concerned with pushing out content to targeted audiences.
As remarked by marketing guru Andrew Davis, “Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue”; the whole idea of social selling is nothing but this. Whether you are selling online or in person, you know that no matter how well put together your sales pitch is – if your approach is just to target the wallet of your customer, you have nipped your buyer’s interest in the bud even before he could begin the journey!
Social selling is about devising and executing content that is rooted in authenticity and motivated by the desire to answer the questions of prospects as opposed to doling out pushy and invasive messages. It also involves participating in conversations that prospects are prone to engage in order to forge a bond built on interest.
Here are some statistics worth poring over –
- About 65 % of buyers say that they based their purchasing decision on the vendor’s content. – B2B Buyer Landscape, Demand Gen
- Nearly 82% of buyers viewed between 5-8 pieces of content from a winning vendor. – HubSpot
- Nearly 97% of buyers prefer prescriptive content. – Content Preferences Survey Report, Demand Gen
What these insightful nuggets tell us that content is supremely consequential to social selling strategies. The efficacy of the strategy solely depends upon the content’s relevance, value, and tone. Buyers are most likely to engage with content that provides them with the requisite information pertaining to their business needs as well as shepherds them through one stage of the buyer’s journey to the next.
So how is content actually helping social selling? What are the formats that the sales reps are using to converse with prospects? Before I plumb the depths of these questions, let me tell you how social selling above everything else favors a personal touch and how the strategies almost always begin with the sales reps actively joining the conversational currents within their industries.
It goes without saying that the content you create must spark the interest of your prospect through valuable information without the obvious sales overtones. For over a decade now, IKF has been helping clients identify and nurture leads by utilization of social media and although social selling has only now emerged on the horizon, we have been doing it, unbeknownst to us, from quite some time. So, if there’s one particular platform I was to point out that lends itself as a legitimate playing field for social selling, it has to be LinkedIn.
Thanks to the many bells and whistles the professional networking giant keeps adding, it now possesses all those attributes that are conducive to fruitful social selling activities. And when it comes to content formats, there’s more than you can shake a stick at. If you just want to start a conversation with your connections or public, you have ‘share an update’ or if you want to talk to detail about your product/services, you go for ‘article’ which are indexed by search engines so that you become discoverable to your prospects through the content.
In addition to this, formats like blogs cleverly leavened with answers that your prospects might seek about your product/service, webinars, E-books, how-to guides, and explainer videos also hugely help with social selling. Before concluding, I’d like to stress the importance of how supplementing content creation with content curation helps keep things fresh, grow sales pipeline, and establish thought leadership. It’s for these reasons that content has been long touted as the king of the world wide web.
About the Author
Ashish Dalia is the Owner and CEO of I Knowledge Factory Pvt. Ltd. (IKF). He has passionately nurtured the company to become a leading name in Digital Marketing Services in Pune City & beyond. Digital Branding, Social Media Marketing, Website Design and Development – this is what Ashish has been living and breathing for the past 18 years. He has served over 850+ clients locally & globally, across various verticals such as healthcare, manufacturing, education, real estate, retail, FMCG, as well as government organizations.