What is social selling? Should you be doing it?

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In the past, businesses relied solely on cold calls and emails to create leads and sales. However, social selling has become vital for sales professionals in today’s digital age.

So what is social selling? We’ll answer that question and dig into its history. Then, we’ll talk about its benefits, see five examples, and observe a case study.

Highlights:

  • Social selling uses social media platforms to engage customers. It involves establishing relationships with prospects, researching potential leads, and positioning a company’s product or service in front of targeted buyers.
  • In 2006,  Nigel Edelshain was the first to officially create a term for using social media for selling. He named it sales 2.0 after the emergence of web 2.0. Afterward, it became known as social selling.
  • Benefits of social selling include increased visibility, better relationships with customers, and improved brand recognition

What is social selling?

Social selling uses social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to engage customers. Relationship building and fostering trust are the core of social selling. It involves establishing connections with prospects, researching potential leads, and positioning a company’s product or service in front of targeted buyers.

To illustrate, say a salesperson wants to target C-suite executives in the healthcare industry. The salesperson can use LinkedIn’s search function to find relevant contacts, join groups related to the healthcare industry, and start engaging with potential buyers through conversations, comments, and posts.

The history of social selling

After the first online purchase in 1994, the internet revolutionized our thoughts about sales and selling. Then, online social connections started gaining popularity. In 2006,  Nigel Edelshain was the first to officially create a term for using social media for selling. He named it sales 2.0 after the emergence of web 2.0. Afterward, it became known as social selling. 

One of the first instances of social selling was in 2004 when Dell used its blog to engage customers and increase sales. Since then, this practice has since grown in popularity, with more companies using it to reach potential customers and grow their companies.

The benefits of social selling

Many businesses are now turning to social selling because of its numerous benefits. These include:

  • Increased visibility. Businesses can reach a wider audience and increase their visibility in the marketplace.
  • Better relationships with customers. Companies can engage with their customers in meaningful ways, building better relationships and improving customer service.
  • Improved brand recognition. By engaging with potential customers on social networks, businesses can improve their brand

Five examples to consider

Here are a few ways to implement social selling.

1. Leverage LinkedIn groups

LinkedIn has become the go-to platform for sales professionals, and leveraging its groups is a great way to engage your target audience. Joining relevant groups can help you build relationships with potential customers and showcase your expertise in the field.

2. Participate in Twitter chats

Twitter chats are an effective way to connect with prospects and increase your visibility. Participating in chats allows you to demonstrate your knowledge, engage with customers, and build relationships.

3. Use visual content

Visual content is increasingly popular on social media platforms and can be a powerful way to engage customers. Using infographics, video content, or other visuals in your posts can help you stand out from the crowd and draw attention to your brand.

4. Take advantage of automation

Automation tools such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social can help you reclaim time by scheduling posts ahead of time, tracking engagement with customers, and providing insights into customer behavior.

5. Analyze your data

Utilizing analytics can help you track the success of your efforts and make adjustments as needed. Analyzing engagement rates and customer demographics can optimize your strategy to reach your target audience better.

Social selling case study

Dreamdata, a company specializing in digital analytics, decided to try social selling with a LinkedIn post. First, the article started receiving a massive amount of likes. Then, Linkedin influencers like Chris Walker commented on the post, further increasing the number of likes. The company saw the benefits, which included:

  • 40,000 views on Linkedin
  • High traffic to their website
  • Huge leads generation

Is it for you?

Social selling is an effective tool that helps businesses increase visibility, build customer relationships, and improve their bottom line. This strategy may be the right choice if you’re looking to take your sales strategy to the next level.

Regardless of what industry you’re in or how big your business is, there are countless ways to leverage social selling and make it work for you. So, start strategizing and get started on your journey toward success!  

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