According to Linkedin, seventy-eight percent of the salespeople engaged in social selling are outselling their peers who are not.
Does that mean you should focus all of your energy on social selling? Absolutely not. But it does mean that if you aren’t exploring social channels for prospecting or nurturing at all, maybe you should be.
It’s essential to be human and communicate sincerely, and the more channels you use to develop relationships, the easier it will be to get your prospects to warm up to you.
But social selling doesn’t come without its challenges. I’ve spoken about the need to use a pull strategy because it’s more effective than a push strategy; it’s easier to pull clients toward you on social channels. If you push too quickly, you will drive potential clients away.
In this article, I highlight how you can pull clients towards you and overcome other B2B social selling challenges, enabling you to build a sales strategy to fill your pipeline with clients ready to buy.
What is B2B Social Selling?
Here’s how I view social selling. Since the term was coined, the first rule of social selling has been “Don’t sell.”
Have you ever received a message on LinkedIn along the lines of, “Kinda weird, but hear me out…?”
I already know I’m about to get pitched by somebody I’ve never interacted with. This is not how to use social selling.
Social selling is part marketing, part nurturing, and part compelling change. The goal is engagement to make the salesperson known and make it easier to get a meeting.
There are benefits to social selling:
- You can begin authentic conversations with people that might benefit from your product or service
- It’s possible to increase website traffic because of a stronger social presence
- Sales reps can build their personal brand through relationship building
- B2B sales cycles are long. Nurturing leads on social media can shorten the cycle.
In the B2B space, social selling is an essential part of an overall strategy. One study found that seventy-five percent of B2B buyers and eighty-four percent of C-level executives use social media to support purchasing decisions.
And with 40 million decision-makers using LinkedIn, it’s a great place to start building connections. That said, there are some challenges to social selling.
1. Using the Wrong Channels
No, you can’t just spend time on your favorite social media platform and start selling there. It’s not that easy. Instead, as part of your research into your ideal buyers, find out where they hang out and socialize online.
For example, Instagram is a casual space, and trying to sell Just because it has had a name change doesn’t mean it replaces selling on calls or in person. there is difficult. It’s better for interacting with customers. Many posts are personal. When you like posts and leave comments, you start building a relationship.
But in the B2B world, most of your buyers are on LinkedIn and Twitter. Both platforms allow salespeople to connect with prospects on a one-to-one level. Depending on your product or service, you need to connect with the right people.
For example, if you’re selling management software to gyms, you’ll want to connect with IT managers and decision-makers at gyms. Find connections through search–filter contacts based on role, company, and groups or hashtags.
Next, look at your contact’s profile. What does their bio say? The way they’ve written it will give you an idea of what they want you to know about them. Now you can start conversations and bring value. You might point them toward your content or ask them for their thoughts on a specific topic.
2. You’re Too Quick To Sell
I touched briefly on performing research above, but taking your time and researching prospects is critical.
If you don’t, you might reach out to the wrong people. Building relationships with the wrong people is a waste of time. If they’re not the right fit for your product or service or not in a position to make decisions, you’ll both end up frustrated.
There are two ways to spam people on LinkedIn or Twitter:
- Bombarding strangers with direct messages and tweets
- Connecting with someone and immediately requesting a meeting
Instead, think of ways to add value to each new connection you make. You want to make meaningful connections and present your brand in a helpful way. Building trust and loyalty before getting prospects on a call is possible.
Once you develop a relationship through consistent communication, you can comfortably ask for introductions and book calls.
3. Failing to Create Value
Why should a potential client trust you? What do you provide before you try to book a call?
Let’s use the gym management software example again. You can create value by knowing about the current trends in the gym industry, what’s already changed, and how gym management software is changing the landscape.
If done well, social selling creates engagement with your dream clients.
Providing potential clients with insights and ideas without asking for anything builds trust and positions you as an authority worth listening to and conversing with. If connections learn something for you and even see themselves in your stories, it will be easier to book calls and make sales.
4. Lack of Reporting
Social selling is never successful with a ‘spray and pray’ attitude. You almost need to imagine your post is talking to one person–that person being your dream client–and seeing if it resonates.
An obvious way to know if your posts resonate is if people reach out with comments or even start a conversation through a direct message. But you also want to consider your reach. You might reach your dream clients, but they don’t engage yet.
If you don’t measure the results of your social selling efforts, you don’t know how you’re performing.
Track metrics like how many shares you get. If prospects share your content with their peers, you’re making new contacts with other potential prospects. The built-in LinkedIn analytics tool provides detailed insights such as unique visitors, new followers, post impressions, custom button clicks, and new leads.
You can also use the LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI), which is measured on:
- Establishing your brand
- Targeting the right people
- Engaging with insights
- Building relationships
5. You Spend Too Much Time on Social Channels
While social selling is one part of a selling strategy, it shouldn’t be where you spend lots of time. It can be a time suck! Becoming obsessed with metrics and the dopamine rush of new likes, comments, and followers can become a distraction.
Spending too much time trying to book meetings on social channels wastes time when you could be making calls and utilizing other channels. Yes, reaching out on social media is less scary and more comfortable than making cold calls, but is it as effective? I’d wager no.
Instead, limit your time on social channels. Be specific with your goals and objectives. First, provide value, connect with a certain number of people a day, spend some time commenting on posts, and then switch to other channels.
6. Social Selling is Really Marketing
I remember when social selling was called ‘social media marketing.’ Just because it has had a name change doesn’t mean it replaces selling on calls or in person. Sure, you can engage prospects, build relationships, and establish trust, but you still need to move them into the buying process.
You win when you approach social media as another way to get face-to-face with your client.
Social is also useful for positioning and differentiating yourself from your competitors. Sometimes, a different opinion might align with your dream client, nudging them in your direction. Ultimately, salespeople need to be better marketers.
However, let’s not pretend we’re selling on social media. We’re marketing.
B2B Sales Selling: One Cog in the Sales Wheel
Social selling has its place. Especially in the modern B2B world. LinkedIn is still the best platform to use.
But the main aim of social selling should be to develop relationships with prospects who are more likely to buy from you. Because you provide value, empathize with their struggles, and give without expecting something in return.
Once you establish relationships, you can confidently ask for referrals and meetings.
Using social selling as part of your strategy is fine–but more importantly, taking action and implementing that strategy will drive success in your sales efforts.
If you want to discover more about B2B sales strategies and how to implement them, check out my B2B Sales Strategy Roadmap or my Sales Hustlers Guide!