Social Selling: The Good, The Kinda Bad, and The Super Secret Sauce
Social selling seems to be THE hot topic in B2B sales circles – and has been for quite some time. But what is social selling, really? Is it really effective? Can it really help shorten your long, arduous B2B sales cycle and close more deals?
These are great questions that are well deserving of great answers. Because, at the end of the day, if social selling is just a buzzword used to get you to download a white paper or eBook then it’s all a waste of time – time that none of us have to waste. In the rapidly-changing world of B2B sales you need tools that help you sell. Period.
If you haven’t heard us say it yet, let’s put this on the table once again: good data is our life blood. So, in the spirit of good data, let’s look at some crucial data points on the B2B social media space:
- According to a study by GlobalWebIndex, 75% of all internet users have a social media account. Further, of those existing social media users, each of them spend the better part of two hours every day on a social network.
- Advertising Age also revealed that 86% of all consumers buying IT products use social media to reach a decision.
- A completely different study by Corporate Executive Board showed that 77% of B2B purchasers will not even speak to a salesperson until they have done their own research.
This research points to the simple fact that your prospects are social creatures eager and ready to engage with smart, savvy problem solvers just like you.
Now, let’s dig into the social media landscape a bit to uncover the good, the kinda bad, and ultimately – your top-secret social selling weapon.
The Good: Social Selling Can be VERY Effective
Simply put, social selling (sometimes referred to as Sales 2.0 in B2B sales circles) is the process of using any channel necessary to build relationships and trust as part of the overarching sales process. The broader concept of social selling is that you can identify key prospects on social networking platforms and nurture them through your sales funnel quickly and effectively by positioning yourself as an expert and an ally on their particular circumstances.
Social media is where your customers live. It’s also highly likely that they are researching the solutions that YOU provide – they just don’t know you exist…yet. And just like in real life, people tend to shop close to where they live. However, if your shop isn’t visible from the street, enticing potential customers to learn more about your product is a lot more difficult.
Success in the social sales space requires that you engage your networks with problem-solving content and ideas that position YOU as the expert – and ultimately, THE solution. In short, if they buy you – as the trusted problem-solving rockstar – they will trust AND buy the solution you are selling.
- A study by Dell shows that almost 3/4 of all B2B purchase decision makers use social media to make a buying decision. From this same study, 57% said they browse social discussions to learn about a product, and almost 1/4 of respondents said they relied on recommendations from trusted sources.
- 98% of sales reps with over 5K LinkedIn contacts surpass their sales quotas.
- IBM, yes THAT IBM, increased their sales by 400% by implementing a social selling program.
- According to Forbes, nearly 80% of salespeople who integrate social selling into their sales process perform better than their colleagues.
- About a year ago at LinkedIn’s annual SalesConnect conference, Mike Derezin, VP of Sales at LinkedIn, took the stage and shared a startling statistic – that sales professionals who use social selling are over 50% more likely to exceed their sales quota.
While these are all inspiring numbers, there is just one problem: Who the hell are these people that are ready and willing to buy?
The Kinda Bad: What (or Who) is Missing from the Social Selling Equation?
The kinda bad news about socially-sourced contact data is that regardless of the social platform – it is all user generated and cannot keep up with the constant flux of data changes that occur.
The glaring flaw here is that accuracy and completeness of the contact data is almost always assumed. The even more risky assumption is that users automatically take full responsibility of ensuring their contact info and employment status is 100% complete & accurate.
Unfortunately, the truth is something different altogether. The information provided is often outdated and/or under reported.
Take a recent study by the Ogilvy Group for example. They audited contact data on their own employees on both Facebook and LinkedIn. According to their own HR records they had just 4,361 employees on staff. However, the results of their study revealed 5,122 LinkedIn and 3,600 Facebook users claiming to be employed by The Ogilvy Group. That’s a 17% difference from the actual number of current employees on both social media channels audited.
While a hefty percentage of contacts still say they work at a company, there’s an even larger percentage of key decision makers at a company who don’t even show up on social platforms at all. Our own research team recently uncovered that at least 25% of all C-level executives do not have LinkedIn accounts.
The Super Social Selling Secret Sauce: DiscoverOrg
While you know these people are out there in the social media ether, without the right contact data you will have no idea who these people are or how to reach them effectively. As we both know, these prospects don’t magically appear out of thin air. You have to know exactly WHO they are, WHAT their current pain points are, and HOW to start these social selling conversations.
Fortunately, there’s a better way to prospect on social media. By using a powerful sales intelligence tool with your social selling strategy you can ensure you’re building strong relationships with the right people at the right time.
A truly effective social selling campaign is not just run by a hipster in a broom closet. It is perfectly executed with in-depth insights that only sales intelligence can provide.
Imagine if you had access to a prospect’s role, lateral and upward reporting structure, specific business pain points, AND current spending initiatives? All you have to do is connect the dots on social media and start a conversation that truly inspires action. B2B selling social selling is all about H2H (Human to Human) conversations.
To put it bluntly, if you want to be a social selling rock star, you need better data – data that doesn’t rely on the flawed user-generated gathering process employed by social media platforms. You need data that gives the WHO, WHAT, and HOW on your target prospects.