It's no secret that cold calling by phone is perceived as cold and pushy. Even for marketers, this method of acquiring new customers can be very exhausting, because it is a tedious job whose success rate is also very low. If other measures such as mails and purchased leads do not lead to the desired sales success either, initiating business via social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn can be a sensible alternative to cold calling. And this is where the term social selling comes into play.
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What is social selling?
Attention: Social selling is not about bombarding strangers with unwanted tweets and private messages. That would be spam and should be avoided at all costs. It's also not about arbitrarily adding new contacts to your list. Rather, you should create meaningful exchanges, cleverly highlighting the benefits of your brand and thus building trust and loyalty.
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What is the Social Selling Index?
The Social Selling Index (SSI for short) is a measure of the success of a brand's social selling campaign. LinkedIn introduced its SSI concept back in 2014, combining four components to determine a score. To do this, the LinkedIn SSI looks at whether you:
Build your brand together with a well-managed LinkedIn profile.
Finding relevant people on the platform
Share meaningful and interesting content
Build and strengthen relationships
To calculate your LinkedIn SSI score, log in to your account and go to your Social Selling Index dashboard. Consider your score as a benchmark for improving your social selling performance.
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Benefits of Social Selling
Social selling has a much higher success rate than conventional cold calling. This is because sellers and customers can already assess each other quite well through their online presence, which creates significantly more trust. Therefore, social selling offers a number of advantages for both potential buyers and sellers:
From the buyer's perspective.
One major advantage is that buyers are much less likely to be approached about products they are not even interested in. In addition, potential buyers can already find out about the company themselves on social networks, look at the products and decide whether they suit them. If the potential customer then already has a good feeling about your product, this creates a good basis even before personal contact.
From the salesperson's point of view
Conversely, from the seller's point of view, it can be assumed that the buyer is already interested in principle during the first personal contact. This significantly increases the salesperson's chances of success and reduces the time spent searching for potential new customers.
In addition, sales staff can also find out about their potential customers in advance and tailor advice to their specific needs. In addition, social media can be used to increase awareness and thus build a personal bond with the company even before the consultation. This allows salespeople to adapt their sales strategies and identify the actual needs of individual customers. In this way, even the initial contact can be customized. Further expansion of the network through existing contacts is advisable, as this is always a good basis for trusting new acquaintances on social media.
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Social Selling: 4 reasons why you should try it!
Not quite convinced about social selling yet? Here are four reasons why you too should give it a try.
1. Social selling pays off
The data from LinkedIn Sales Solutions reveals that social selling can definitely pay off:
Companies that are leaders in social selling have 45% higher sales opportunities than brands with a low social selling index.
Companies that prioritize social selling are 51% more likely to achieve their sales quota.
78% of companies that use social selling achieve higher sales than companies that do not.
2. Relationship building is happening on the Internet today.
According to a January 2021 Forbes article, 87% of business events were cancelled and 66% postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, networking and relationship building has very much moved online, which is why now is the perfect time to prioritize social selling.
3. Social commerce is already in full swing
Social commerce describes the merging of social networks and e-commerce. Shopping via social media platforms is becoming increasingly popular and is one of the current trends in e-commerce. According to a study by the consulting firm Accenture, the global market volume of social commerce amounted to 492 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and is even expected to reach a volume of around 1.23 trillion U.S. dollars by 2025. With so many people shopping on social networks and also using these platforms for brand research, the potential for social selling is huge.
3. Your competition is already using social selling
Many of the most successful brands are active on social media. They interact with their customers there, promote their products or services, and also offer these very products or services for sale directly on the platforms. So what are you waiting for? Engage in social selling and stay competitive.
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Recipe for success in social selling
No matter what platform you choose to work with social selling on, you should be aware of the following four best practices:
1. Grow your social media presence
Before you jump headlong into social selling, you should have built your brand on social media. To do this, you should share interesting and valuable content to signal that you're not just after your sales, but also want to deliver value. For this, post content regularly to leave a professional and convincing impression.
You should also make sure to keep your social media presence professional. After all, these days your social media profiles are your business card and the figurehead of your company. So create all your profiles in a uniform design that will be remembered (keyword: corporate identity). 2.
2. Build relationships and expand your network
In order to be able to build up a network piece by piece in social media, you should proceed strategically. In order to reach the right target group, you should look for people who are from the same or a similar industry, have common contacts with you or share content that is exciting for you. This will provide you with a good base to build relationships. However, always maintain your existing contacts as well.
3. Stay authentic and unique
Of course, there are automated tools for liking and commenting, as well as the ability to send a single message to countless potential buyers. However, you should avoid this at all costs, as it does nothing to build relationships. On the contrary, it can even do serious damage to your brand.
Instead, go for authenticity and take the time to personalize your messages. For example, you could respond to your shared professional contacts or a shared content. You'll have much better success with social selling this way.
4. Be patient
Don't give up if you don't see results right away. The key with social selling is consistency. So reach out to your contacts again if you haven't heard from them in a while. This is a good idea, for example, if you can congratulate a person on a new professional position or a move to another company. Also, respond to comments on your content and always offer your advice or help, even if it's not directly promoting your product.
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Social Selling: Which networks are best?
Which networks you should use for social selling depends entirely on your business model: If you are in the B2C business and want to communicate with your customers, platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are particularly suitable. Relationships can be built well via these social media because communication is very informal and natural.
Business platforms such as LinkedIn or Xing, on the other hand, are best suited for B2B companies that want to find business customers because they register a high level of credibility and expertise. On LinkedIn in particular, you can build a network of experts and become active in industry-specific groups. Xing, on the other hand, tends to be limited to German-speaking countries.
So, on the whole, it's a matter of finding out which platform your target group is most likely to be represented on, so that you can reach them exactly there.
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In this article, we took a close look at the trend topic of social selling and found out that it can certainly be worthwhile. Whether in the B2C or B2B sector - there are platforms for every customer group. Due to the nature of social networks, a much more relaxed exchange is possible than with classic cold calling, and both buyers and sellers can easily gain insights into the interests of their counterparts. In order not to miss out on the wealth of opportunities and to remain competitive in times of social commerce, social listening and - social selling - you should not hesitate any longer. So let's get started with Networking 2.0.
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Frequently asked questions about social selling
What is social selling?
Social selling is an attempt to use social media channels to encourage potential customers to interact and thus acquire new customers or partners. Social media channels are used as a sales model and product tags or store links are integrated into the platform itself.
How does social selling work?
1. build your social media presence. 2. Build relationships and expand your network. 3. stay authentic and unique. 4.Show products in a real life situation - provide the product link as well. 5.Be patient and don't give up if you don't see results right away.
What is the social selling index?
The social selling index is a metric on LinkedIn. The value indicates how good your social selling profile is on LinkedIn. The interaction and relationships that are built are of important relevance here.
Which social media platform for B2B and B2C?
Basically, you can't make a blanket statement about this, as it depends heavily on the target group, especially in the B2C sector. Social media channels such as WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube are becoming increasingly popular. In the B2B sector, the focus is more on Linkedin, Xing and Twitter, but there is also a lot of communication on social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube.
What is the difference for social selling in B2B and B2C?
Social selling is popular in B2B and B2C. Depending on that, you should consider their goals and target audience. For example, while in B2C it's potential customers they want to encourage to buy, depending on the target audience, this can be done well on social media channels like Instagram. While in B2B it's more likely to be partners and they can convert well on social media channels like Linkedin or Xing.