Why You Should Sell with Social

The world has changed. Our buyers have changed. And we need to update how we sell in response.

When I first started selling for our web design firm, I was encouraged to do the traditional sales activities. New business was to be acquired through cold calls, chamber of commerce events, and co-selling with our other division’s sales team.

What I quickly learned, which you probably have as well, is that traditional sales tactics aren’t effective. Despite grinding out 1-on-1 outreach to a targeted prospect list, sales results were lackluster.

The world has changed. Our buyers have changed. And we need to update how we sell in response to this.

Our buyers are not waiting by their office phones, ready to take a call from another sales rep. In fact, many of our buyers are not in the office at all. They are working remotely and trying to balance responding to emails, video conference calls, and doing their actual work. Interrupting them with a pitch is not a winning strategy.

After about 12 months of trying traditional sales activities, I decided to try a digital approach. Leveraging my experience creating websites and social networking, I worked to digitally transform much of our sales process.

The result? Increased sales, more engaged prospects, and a better selling experience.

Digital Transformation of Sales

“Digital transformation” is not simply a buzzword. It’s a reality that the world we live in today is drastically different than even 10 years ago, thanks to the digitization of goods and services.

A great visual representation of how digital transformation has changed our lives.

Nearly EVERYTHING in our lives has been impacted by digital transformation. And I should note that this is overwhelmingly a positive thing. There are massive functional improvements that come with digitization. Namely, you can produce and distribute digital content at a scale far greater than through analog channels.

The classic example is photography. Capturing images used to require a film camera. This required a roll of film, which would typically allow you to take up to 24-36 pictures. After taking your pictures, you needed to take them to a film store to develop and print your pictures. If you want to share your pictures with friends and family, that required additional photos to be developed, then physically mailed or hand-delivered to your loved ones.

Today’s photography? Our smartphones have professional digital camera systems on them. We can take pictures instantly, with essentially no limit, as most phones can store 10’s of thousands of pictures. Sharing pictures with friends and family is as simple as a click of a button with delivery in seconds.

I know you know all this… But for some reason, we still insist on treating traditional sales activities as sacred. We believe that if you don’t cold call, or hand out business cards at networking events, you are not doing “real sales.” When in reality, cold calling is about as effective as using film photography in today’s digital world.

What does this mean all mean to you? It’s time to digitally transform your sales process.

Digital transformation of sales activities will allow you to better align your activity with the changing buying behavior of your customers, but it will also enable you to benefit from the leverage that digital channels offer.

Social selling in particular, which is sales activities through online social networks, is a powerful way that sales reps can build and leverage their network at a digital scale.

Picture a chamber of commerce event, but instead of physically being in a room with 50-100 people, you are in a digital room with hundreds of thousands of potential customers, vendors, and business partners.

What would this mean to your sales results if you could reach more people, more effectively?

The Benefits of Social Selling

It can be hard for some people to understand the benefits of social selling. Why would sales reps waste their time on social media? Isn’t that just used by teenagers to share videos?

Once we get over the stigma of social media, we can see the reality - social networks are an incredibly powerful way for salespeople to sell in the digital world. Our buyers are active online, so we also need to be there. This is where our buyers are researching options, vetting vendors, and deciding who to work with.

In fact, a study from Linkedin found that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to make buying decisions. Said another way, a majority of your buyers are using social media as part of their purchasing process.

This means if you want to be successful in digital sales, you need to be implementing social selling strategies. This is how you’ll expand your reach, build your authority, and generate revenue in the digital world. Let’s explore each of those three benefits in more detail.

Expand Your Reach

The first major benefit of social selling is your ability to expand your reach. That is, how far your messaging and content can travel to your audience.

In the traditional sales world, your reach is limited to how many people you can physically interact with (either in-person or over the phone). It’s a 1-to-1 game of you reaching out and trying to solicit a response.

In the digital sales world, your reach is unlimited. The more you can build your social network and online audience, the further your messaging can go. In this digital world, one social post can be seen by hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of people.

Tapping into your connection’s connections is a powerful way to expand your reach.

Social networks scale not only because your content is digital and infinitely reproducible, but also because of network effects. With social selling, you’re connection’s connections become under your sphere of selling influence. With every digital engagement comes the opportunity to reach increasingly more people.

Build Your Authority

Another powerful benefit of social selling is your ability to build a personal brand. Cliche as the word may be, everyone in sales knows how important your reputation is. Your personal brand is essentially your reputation in the marketplace.

Social selling enables you to build that trust and authority at scale, by regularly publishing educational content and leveraging your digital network. Repeated exposure to your content will allow you to facilitate trust with your audience.

Ultimately, you’re creating the “you” factor. This is your ability to build your personal brand so that people want to work with you. As an authority in your industry, based on your social media presence, your prospects will actively reach out to you to solve their problems.

Nearly every sales rep I’ve talked to who has been actively social selling says the same thing - “My prospects always say that they feel like they already know me. It’s much easier to sell to them as they have an existing level of trust starting at the first discussion.”

When you are the trusted guide, your entire selling process improves. You are not selling to them so much as you are walking them through the buying process and empowering them to be successful.

Generate More Revenue

This leads us to the third major benefit of social selling, which is, of course, more revenue. Combining the two topics above (more reach + more trust) results in more sales revenue.

By digitally transforming your strategy and leveraging social networks, you are intentionally aligning your strategy to the new buying behavior of your customers. This optimizes the entire sales funnel and positions you to grow your sales revenue.

At the top of the funnel, social selling is getting you valuable exposure to your target audience. And unlike paid advertising exposure, social engagement is personal and more authentic. This means you are more likely to convert that audience into active leads.

In the middle of the funnel, social selling enables you to actively nurture deals in your pipeline and keep you top of mind. Your contacts for existing deals in your pipeline can engage with you on social media, interact with your content, view your resources, and continue building trust in your “brand” as a trusted guide in your industry.

At the bottom of the funnel, social selling can drastically increase your close rate. According to Hubspot, sales professionals who use social selling close 40-50% more new business than those who don’t. Because you’ve been digitally engaged with your deals, these people know you, know your brand, and are excited to work with you. This translates into a faster sales cycle and a high close rate.

Taking Action on Social Selling

Selling with Social is not a one-and-done activity. It takes a commitment to digitally transform how you sell.

The goal of this newsletter is to help sales reps harness the power of social selling and digital channels to expand their reach, build their authority, and generate more revenue.

Each week, I’ll be publishing a new Sell with Social article. Included will be Action Items for you to act on.

I’m here to help you be successful. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve helped other sales reps grow by digitally transforming their strategy.

Are you ready to sell with social?

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