People don’t like to be interrupted. They don’t like to be ‘pitched’ and they certainly don’t like to be cold-called. These opinions are more prevalent in millenials than any other generation. And with 70% of the workforce predicted to be millennials by 2025, B2B marketers and salespeople have a future of a tough crowd.

It’s time to get real and meaningfully connect. It’s time for social selling. [cue thunder and lightning]

But seriously: social selling is all about meeting these behavioral changes and getting away from the cold call. It’s more than just the channels used, more than switching from email to social networks, it’s a shift in mindset, too: a shift towards being customer-centred, customer-centric, and customer-obsessed.

What is Social Selling?

Jill Rowley, queen of social selling, defined social selling at Ignite as: using social networks to do research to be relevant to build relationships that drive revenue.

Social Selling Definition

Let’s break this definition down and take a deep dive into the 4 components of successful social selling.

Research

There is so much more information about your prospects available to you now than, well, ‘before’  – both professionally and on a personal level. Getting to know your prospects now goes beyond the two sentence bio on the company “About” page and is easier than thumbing through a 100 page annual report. Today, effective salespeople use social networks to show job position and history, location, and interests. You might even see if a prospect has kids or has taken a trip recently. Just be a bit cautious on this last one … no one wants to think you’ve been sitting outside their house in a black cube van for months.

You can also use this research to determine where to reach out and build relationships with prospects. Understand where your prospects hang out and hang out there, too. On social, that is.

Meet your prospects where they are

So if they go to LinkedIn to consume their industry information, be there. If they frequent Quora to ask and answer questions, build a presence there. It’s likely that you’ll find a trend in your prospect group and will have 2-3 social networks that you can really focus on.

Be Relevant

A key component to social selling is to share valuable content, generally or with specific prospects. But there’s so many resources available on the web – if you’re not offering content that’s directly relevant to your prospects, they’ll find what they’re looking for somewhere else. You must be relevant. What’s relevant? That’s something you’d answer in the research phase.

And when you find that sweet spot, that relevancy, prospects have a reason to engage with you and pay attention to what you’re saying. You become a valuable resource … which is the foundation for a fruitful relationship.

Remember to be relevant to them as a person, too. Does your LinkedIn profile scream “QUOTAAA CRUSHERRR”? Or expert negotiator? Pretty sure that’s not something your prospects are going to be running towards. Remember that your social networks are prospect-facing, so build them that way.

Build a Relationship

You’re familiar with the notion that buyers are much more likely to buy from someone they trust…right? Of course you are. So building relationships is key.

Building Relationships in Sales

Relationships mean less push, more pull. Less sales pitch, more conversation. Less you, more them. Less ‘this transaction’, more ‘long term’. Be seriously yourself. This is not the time to fake nice or fake interest in people … ain’t no one got time for that! Plus, buyers are pretty quick to see right through this.

Sometimes relationships take time to build. After all, as Jill Rowley says “you don’t get married on the first date”. But consider the benefit of investing in long-term customer relationships and the value this will bring to your organization. Say goodbye to one-time purchases and hello to repeat business and customer advocacy!

Drive Revenue +

The word may as well be written in gold. Revenue is the ultimate goal. But there’s more to ticking off that box than signing a prospect up. In her talk, Jill named two other metrics that matter when building relationships and ‘making the sale’:

  • customer lifetime value – the revenue from a customer over their entire journey with your company
  • advocacy – the value a customer can bring to your business by becoming a true supporter and recommending your product or service to other prospects.

Trust and authentic connection, and real relationships can beef up all three of these metrics and that is exactly where the social selling magic happens!

Want to learn more about social selling with Jill Rowley at Ignite? Watch all (or parts of!) the 40 minute video below.

Kimbe MacMaster