There is a lot of conflicting information out there about social selling. Some approach it with hard facts and figures. They use analytics 24/7 and think of ways to attract prospects that use statistics and science. Others take a more personal approach and feel there’s an art to social selling; that it requires a certain level of finesse. But which approach is best? What works?
Let’s evaluate both tactics to see what is the most effective at securing leads and encouraging conversions.
Is It a Science?
There’s quite a bit of evidence to back up the notion that social selling is a science. There are countless reports that confirm this idea by offering up hard stats to prove effectiveness. For instance, did you know that per dollar spent, content marketing generates 3X as many leads as traditional marketing? Or that HubSpot says the act of blogging regularly produced at least one new customer for 43% of marketers last year. What about the fact that 54% of salespeople have closed at least one deal using social media, according to Forbes?
Dynamic Signal’s own Social Selling Survey Report found that high achieving social sellers are more likely than low achieving social sellers to use social media for networking and prospecting.
These facts can be measured and proven. When salespeople incorporate social media into their social selling strategy, the statistics say they will generate and close more leads than they would without it. Just by creating social media accounts, sharing industry content, and responding to inquiries on social media, these salespeople can expect better sales results. Additionally, these scientific minded salespeople can pinpoint where their prospects reside online and what the best approach would be to pursue them.
By conducting surveys or reviewing published studies, marketers and salespeople can see what social networks are used most often by potential prospects. They can see what types of content are the most effective at enticing people. They can see, statistically, if a sales team leader is likely to sign up to download a free report and complete a CTA.
This research gives social sellers the knowledge-base they need to make factual, informed choices about how to sell.
Is It an Art?
Many people also claim that social selling is an art form. That it requires skill and talent. That it is based on personality and good old-fashioned salesmanship. And there’s actually a good case to be made for this approach. For instance, you need to really listen to your prospects in order to figure out the best time to start a discussion. This means monitoring your social accounts on a regular basis to both identify prospects and to leap into action when a prospect is at the right spot to be pulled into your sales funnel.
You see, social selling is in large part about relationship building. To be effective, you need to be able to relate to people and focus on the individual prospect. And being “good” with people isn’t about science at all; it’s about communicating, empathizing, and relating in the moment. While this is a skill you can learn, it’s not something studying surveys will teach you. Only by connecting with prospects on social on a daily basis will you get better at building these relationships on social media. The research can show you where to look and and what results you can reasonably expect, but only your personal approach and communication can reach that prospect.
Actually, Social Selling is Both
Maybe you suspected this already, but hear us out: social selling is made possible thanks to both scientific and artistic elements. So, while you’ll do research to see which social media channels your target demographic engages on the most, you’ll need to put on your salesperson hat to interact with those prospects and spot the perfect time to start a discussion. Pinpointing and navigating these conversations takes patience and skill, and it’s not something you can learn by memorizing the latest social media survey.
To get the most out of your social selling efforts, it’s a good idea to employ a two-pronged approach: first evaluate the facts and research to make decisions about the when and where of your strategy, then employ intuition and relationship-building skills to put your strategy into action.
Let’s look at an example for context. If your company offers a consumer brand that is visual, all research indicates that these kinds of products tend to do well on visually-oriented social channels like Pinterest and Instagram. The science backs this up. But what you post on these channels and how you interact with those who appear interested in what you have to offer requires in-the-moment analysis–not of data, mind you– of customer intent. This analysis will tell you if a prospect is actually looking to buy right now or is just browsing. And making that sort of distinction is an art.
To perfect your own or your sales team’s social selling technique, start with some initial research by downloading our Social Selling Survey Report.