Did you know that 92% of people surveyed by Gartner delete emails from those they don’t know? Or that cold calling isn’t as effective as it used to be, with about an 8% conversion rate (according to the Direct Marketing Association)? While you should definitely still utilize traditional sales tactics as needed, you’re missing out if you don’t engage in social selling. According to A Sales Guy Consulting, 73% of those surveyed who used social media as a part of their overall sales strategy saw their efforts result in sales that exceeded quota or did better than their peers 23% of the time. Dynamic Signal’s own Social Selling Report found that over half of the respondents were already involved in social selling and that 87% believe that social media helps them build credibility with prospects and customers and present themselves as subject matter experts in their industry.
But before you can make social media sales, you need to find sales prospects. Just as you would pick up the phone and make a cold call in the pre-social media days, now you can prospect online. The logistics of navigating through the new world of social selling and prospecting can be confusing, even to sales veterans, but don’t let that dissuade you from trying it out and incorporating it into your selling strategy. But what exactly is social prospecting and how can you get started?
What is Social Selling?
According to HubSpot, social selling is “the art of listening to people, not mentions or keywords,” and it’s the act of digging into social media to find potential prospects and creating content that engages them enough to slide right on through the sales funnel.
Twitter is a popular example because it’s so rich in prospects. All you have to do is search for industry-related keywords using Twitter’s search function and respond to people who may be interested in what you have to offer. Tweet them and offer a piece of valuable content that might help with whatever problem they have at the moment. If the prospect engages with you and your conversation continues, well there you go – instant prospect! If not, it’s okay because you only spent a minute or two to reach out to that potential prospect. And if you keep up this practice–even a few minutes a day will make a difference–you’re sure to dig up some real gems.
LinkedIn is another site where you should be spending some considerable time social prospecting. According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing report, LinkedIn provided a lead for 43% of marketers this year. While just about everyone knows the benefits of having a profile on LinkedIn and making new connections, you may not realize the benefits of engaging in LinkedIn Groups. Joining and posting to Groups related to your customers’ industry can help you to connect and build relationships with prospects by asserting yourself as a thought leader, not just a salesperson.
The Role of Social selling in the Sales Evolution
In order to be an effective salesperson, you’ve always had to go where your customers are. In the days before modern technology, salespeople had to go door-to-door to sell their wares. Then salespeople started using telephones to call their prospects to pitch their goods. Now with the emergence of social media, salespeople have to engage in this brave new world to connect with and sell to potential prospects.
Especially as consumers get better at blocking unwanted solicitations, it has become so much more important for salespeople to understand how to reach consumers. Billboard-style shouting about your product or service isn’t going to cut it anymore. Cold calling customers is also more likely than ever to leave you listening to the sound of a dial tone. With social prospecting, you can engage with your customers by building real relationships and offering valuable content, advice, and solutions to their problems, exactly where they’re searching for answers – on social media.
By going where the customers are – on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or whichever social media network your customers prefer – you’re able to engage directly with them to address their concerns or challenges. You can mine prospects by doing just a little bit of research to determine what makes them tick and what they want from a business or product. Then you can go ahead and actually provide what they need. The goal is to bring customers to you by offering engaging, relevant content that speaks to your target market. Basically, you start a conversation with your prospects. You don’t talk at them.
And once you’ve honed your skills of social prospecting and developed your list of leads, you can confidently engage in social selling that meets or exceeds your quota and increases revenue for your company. So go forth, and wield your virtual pick axe with care. Mining for customers in the digital age requires thoughtfulness, research, and nurturing. And while it may seem daunting to devote time to listening and monitoring social channels for prospects, the good news is that the hard work pays off. You’ll walk away with more leads, better prospects, and deeper relationships with customers.
If you’d like to read more about how you can find more leads through social prospecting, download our Social Selling Report.