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When it comes to making sales online, social selling has emerged as one of the most potent forces within the digital marketer’s playbook.

As more and more people spend their time on social media sites such as Instagram and Snapchat, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of companies deploying social selling strategies to reach prospects where they are most receptive.  

What is Social Selling and Why is it Important?

Social selling is a lead generation tactic where sales people prime their target audience with valuable content on social media before reaching out to them and interacting directly with a warm sales pitch. Social selling offers companies the ability to move away from traditional cold calling and email marketing to access new prospects on social media. For many, selling on social media is incredibly effective.

The reason it works so well is that social media offers companies an opportunity to build credibility first. Trust is vital to getting a candidate to buy from you. In the world social selling, content is a currency. This content provides value to your target audience and situates you as an authority within your industry. Once the target audience is familiar with the company, a sales rep will have far more luck reaching out to them. The rationale behind social selling is that you need to prime prospects for the sales funnel before you try to sell.

Content, Content, Content

It is no secret that content is king on social media. As such, your interaction with prospects starts and ends with the content you produce. In order to build a brand that oozes credibility and makes prospects want to buy from you, you need to provide informative and entertaining content. In other words, you need to provide content that offers value to your target audience.

For example if you run an estate agency and you want to use content to reach out to new prospects on social media, you could produce content in the form of blog posts like “top 5 tips to decrease your removal costs”. This will provide your target audience with valuable information and help build a bond and makes you a legitimate voice within your industry.

Of course not all platforms are built the same. In the world of social selling, LinkedIn is arguably the most potent platform to use. This is because it is a business driven social network (as opposed to a network like Facebook which is centered around friend and family connections).

How to Social Sell

The first part of social selling is knowing your audience. What brands do they normally do business with? What motivates them to buy? What problems do your potential customers experience and want to overcome? The better you understand what your target audience is looking for, the more effective a content creation plan you can come up with to address them.

Once you have an understanding of what’s important to your target audience, you need to start creating content. Ideally you should post twice a day and aim to provide information or entertainment with every post you make. This can be achieved by posting blog posts, pictures or even memes. The point is to provide content that builds a relationship with your prospect.

You shouldn’t be afraid to share content either. If you see a post that would help your target market or you think they would appreciate it don’t hesitate to share. When your content starts to generate a response, start to quantify your engagement. Likes, comments and shares are a basic way to tell if your content is drawing any attention. If your content isn’t generating a response return to the drawing board and start a new plan. When starting over rethink what’s important to your target audience.

However if some of your content is generating responses on social media, then it’s time to reply with comments, and reach out via direct message.

Your replies should ideally strengthen your audience’s affiliation to your brand, but are also your opportunity to pitch to your prospects. Give them a reason to sign up to your emailing list, go to your website, or get them on the phone. If your content has primed them correctly this shouldn’t be a completely cold conversation, as they’ll be familiar with your value proposition and your brand.

The Perfect Pitch

Without social media you’d have very little information to go off when reaching out to new prospects. Social media platforms provide you with an abundance of background and context. If you’re targeting decision makers, you’ll be able to find out who these are and demonstrate your credibility before you make contact. This will start the conversation from a position of strength.

This is one of the biggest advantages social selling has over cold calling and email marketing. You are approaching leads you’ve already got the attention of rather than contacting prospects completely out of the blue. That being said you still want to make sure your pitch is customer centric and customized according to their needs.

Demonstrate how your service or product can help the prospect through your understanding of the prospect’s priorities. Looking at your prospects’ profile data and post history can be a good starting point for giving you a feel for what’s important to them.

There is also a lot that can be learned from the approach of your competitors. If you have a competitor who is outperforming you, take a look at their social strategy and see how their brand is connecting with people. More specifically you want to look for how they use their content and how they present their value proposition to their prospects.

Content: The Backbone of Social Selling

If you want to sell to prospects on social media, social selling is definitely something you should consider incorporating into your digital marketing strategy- besides just using ads. The most important thing to remember is not to jump out and cold pitch right away: you need content first! If you endeavor to provide something to your target audience before you start a conversation, you put yourself in a much better position to close a sale.  

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