What do you get when you mix social media, content marketing, and sales? Social selling, the latest trend in savvy sales techniques.
A hodgepodge of marketing philosophies, sales techniques, and technology supported relationships, social selling is a concept that is growing in popularity, as can be seen in the Google Trends graph below.
While the term social selling has never really flat lined—at least it hasn’t since the beginning of this Google graph in 2004—it has certainly fluctuated. At its lowest point in August 2006, Google indicates it only saw 9 monthly searches. At its highest point in June 2016, social selling has seen 100 monthly searches—and we’re only 7 days into the month. Needless to say, social selling is catching on.
What is social selling?
If you’re one of the marketers or salespersons that hasn’t caught the social selling bug yet, Hubspot provides a spot on definition of this revolutionary sales practice.
According to HubSpot, social selling is:
“When salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy. Thus, the use of social media in sales allows salespeople to delight their prospects rather than interrupt their daily lives with cold calls and hard sells, eventually converting them into loyal customers.”
Additionally, Fathom’s social selling expert Jeff Herrmann defines the practice as such:
“In the age of empowered – and overwhelmed – B2B Buyers, the most effective Sales Leaders assume the position of teacher/curator and focus on solving problems. These Leaders move beyond a transactional approach to engagement and publish their knowledge and expertise to build trust and credibility. Leaders leverage their social media profile on LinkedIn to build a platform that showcases their knowledge and elevates their status as an industry expert and trusted advisor.”
If the concept sounds familiar to you marketers, that’s because it is. Essentially, social selling is the content marketing and/or nurture marketing of the sales world. Although social media is the main medium used in social selling – the main priority of social selling is less about garnering attention on social and more about engaging, starting conversations, and delivering on the needs of leads and potential prospects.
Its goal is the same as content marketing and nurture marketing: to build authority, trust, and, ultimately, profitable relationships through the use of relevant material. Similar to these marketing tactics that hope to build organic relationships but still benefit from the use of tools, social selling technology is part and parcel of the practice of social selling.
The Social Selling Technology Landscape
The adoption of social selling tools is growing rapidly. Forbes found that social selling tools are the most widely used sales technology, with 70% of sales professionals using them. Additionally, their research also revealed that 63% of millennial salespeople rated social selling tools as ‘critical’ or ‘extremely critical’ to their ability to close deals.
Given that social selling lives at the intersection of sales and social media, it could be said that social selling occupies the top two categories of marketing technology, according to Chief Martec. These two categories are Sales Automation, Enablement & Intelligence, which is represented by 220 technology solutions, and Social Media Marketing & Monitoring, which is represented by 186 technology solutions.
Overall, these two areas of marketing technology make up 10% of the marketing technology landscape, which is substantial considering this landscape includes over 3,500 marketing technologies and has grown 2,233% from 2011 to 2016. It can be expected that these areas of technology will continue to grow as the interest in and success of social selling also continues to grow.
So, what do these technologies look like? Ultimately, their goals involve helping salespeople to automate, organize, and collaborate on social selling communications.
Some of the most popular technology options include the following:
- Kitedesk 2.0
- Nimble: Social CRM
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the selection of social selling technology. It should be noted, though, that LinkedIn Sales Navigator is one of the foremost technologies. Sales Navigator is extremely powerful because it combines agile technology with the most commonly used sales social platform—LinkedIn.
What Does This Have to Do With Marketing?
What makes social selling—and its corresponding technologies—worthwhile to talk about on a marketing blog is the resulting opportunity to align with and leverage marketing efforts. There are some false barriers built between sales and marketing that may foster a feeling of opposition, but social selling is an area where the two converge in terms of both tactics and goals. Through the conduit of social selling, sales and marketing can collaborate on content and connect on the goals of relationship building. Plus, the use of these technologies allows collaboration to be streamlined and success to be accurately measured.
Most important to the overlapping opportunities in social selling and marketing is the necessity of a documented content marketing strategy. This strategy arms the sales team with relevant content and reinforces the marketing strategy. It also aids in keeping sales focused on supporting critical initiatives that are aligned with marketing efforts. In this way, sales and marketing quite literally need to be on the same page to succeed throughout the entire sales funnel.
Also, if you’re wondering if social selling actually works, LinkedIn found that 90% of top sales professionals are using social selling tools, compared with 71% of overall sales professionals. Additionally, salespeople who rely on social selling platforms are 51% more likely to hit their quotas. (Forbes) Given that marketing is often held to the same end goals as sales, it’s safe to say that with social selling, everybody wins.
Closing the Deal
In the same way that the majority of audiences no longer respond to pop-up ads or intrusive billboards, they’re also no longer responding to outdated sales tactics and intrusive salespeople. Ultimately, marketing goals will not be reached if both marketing teams and sales teams are not clued into this essential shift and the corresponding change of strategy.
After all, what’s the point in building up a pipeline of great leads to lose them during the sales process? With marketers being increasingly measured on ROI and revenue, transitioning to social selling is necessary to keep marketing teams afloat.
Luckily, marketers can take an active role in ensuring that sales utilizes social selling tools and concepts by collaborating on on content strategy, production, and promotion. Sales processes are being influenced by the push for slow and helpful relationship building, a model that marketing has already adopted. Social selling is the reaction to this change.
Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Blurred Lines: The De-Silo-Ing of Marketing to discover why breaking down organizational silos is key to staying agile and ahead of your competition.