The increased use of social media has revolutionized how we sell. The advent of social selling is symbolic of the deeply entrenched behaviour of B2B buyers, who now more than ever use social media as an significant component of their research efforts about the solutions available to them.
The Accenture’s state of B2B Procurement study has found that 94% of B2B buyers first conduct online research before they make a purchase. Of this, 55% make online research for at least half their purchases. An important question arises; which channels do B2B buyers mostly use for their research? You’ve probably guessed it… Despite Google search and supplier websites, more and more B2B buyers rely on social media, especially LinkedIn, to shortlist vendors and make purchasing decisions. Investigations by IDC have found that 84% of executives use social media as support for their purchasing decisions and 75% of B2B buying decisions are significantly affected by the social media.
Let’s face it, Social Selling has completely disrupted cold calling. Over 90% of decision makers never answer a cold call (HBR). Therefore, it’s critical you first have a strong relationship and or understanding of your potential clients before you contact them. Building strong relationship for a long term drives iterative sales. And it starts by connecting to the right prospects within say your LinkedIn network. With Social Selling you can find the right target customers in the social networks, build trusting relationships and reach sales targets, thereby positioning yourself in a modern and forward-looking way.
Here are the first two hands-on tactics to start social selling using LinkedIn:
Build your personal professional brand
Firstly, start by defining your personal and professional brand. It is important to continuously show a professional presence in social media, establishing your professional brand is best done on LinkedIn. In fact, many professionals are using their LinkedIn page as their personal website, which is then easily available for prospects and customers to look at. The mission is to position yourself as a trusted advisor, rather than as a salesperson.
B2B customers generally expect a deep understanding of the technical and business challenges of their company. As a sales leader you should position yourself as an expert consultant to the customer, moving away from a sales persona, to one of a trusted advisor and deep industry expert. This can be achieved by sharing value-adding content, because good content addresses the challenges and ‘pain areas’ of your potential customers and just an importantly aligns with their goals. Successful content not only positions you, it often generates new leads and contacts, as well as early customer conversations.
For a successful social selling, activity is the key – start today by updating your LinkedIn profile, do this continuously, grow your network, participate in group discussions, post relevant content, publish your own articles and show empathy by liking and commenting posts of your target audience. Research indicates that by investing approximately six hours a week into social media, one can bring about massive impact, by way of increased exposure of their solutions and business.
Create your Target Audience & Buyer Persona
Basically it is all about knowing who your target market is. Even though you narrow your potential customers with a target group, customers remain faceless. A target group is still a group of people, which is to a certain extent heterogeneous. So how can you address your ideal customer even more precisely?
This is where the concept of Buyer Persona is used. A buyer persona has a concrete face other than a target group. It is a fictitious person who represents your typical customer. This concept makes it easier for you to better understand the needs, challenges and actions of your ideal customer and allows you to tailor your content better. There are several ways to find your buyer persona. Read more about this topic in our article: Please Welcome – the Social Buyer! Once you are clear about your buyer persona post relevant articles. To find high quality content use appropriate tools like Grapevine6 or Google Alerts and Newsfeeds, such as LinkedIn Pulse. Find LinkedIn groups to participate in where your target market is. Find the blogs that your target market is reading and start commenting there. Find out who the people are that you’re trying to sell to, and start following those people and creating updates there.
Are you curious on how to further increase your social selling tactics using LinkedIn? Stay tuned and read more about the last simple steps you need to take to contact leads through social selling, in our next blog post, coming up soon.
This article was written by Astrid Menzl. Astrid Menzl M.A. is Business Development Manager und Consultant at PDAgroup GmbH. Within the scope of the Masterthesis, Astrid Menzl dealt with the subjects of business model innovation and digital transformation in medium-sized manufacturing companies. Her consulting focus lays within innovation management and the digital transformation of enterprises, supporting companies to enable performance in the digital age with customer centricity.