Why is social selling different from hard sales?

Aug 10, 2021
  • sales, marketing and service

In 2015, Forrester discovered that 57% of the buyer's journey happens before the sales rep is involved. At the end of last year, more than 70% of buyers did their research, consideration and evaluation online.  So what is your sales team doing online? And how can you help them feel more comfortable there?

Meet your audience in the middle

And then there was COVID. The pandemic has an enormous impact on B2C just as well as on B2B sales. Not only your sales staff is bound to use all the possible online means for your business, your customers are doing their homework remote as well, and social media is the perfect platform for them to meet in the middle.

Social media enables your staff to engage with leads from the moment they’re doing their research. So the sooner this interaction takes place, the stronger and more trust-worthy the relationship can grow and result more likely into sales.

Of course, it’s not that easy. Social media is a platform for anyone to share their opinion. You’re competing with organisations as well as inspiring or less inspiring thought leading people. So how do you get your message across? That’s a question we received from one of our customers last June. Can you help us make sure that our sales team spreads relevant content online – and find an easy, low-threshold way of doing that?

leadership is the readiness to stand out in a crowd
John C Maxwell

Standing out is key

As mentioned before: buyers start their research online and complete it online. This means various stages in the buyer process offer possibilities for your sales staff to connect with the customer through social selling.

In every step of this journey, you have the opportunity to stand out. A tailor-made thought leader branding strategy is needed to achieve results – and ease of use is crucial too as you don’t want your sales team to spend too much time in finding and sharing content. That’s where we joined forces with Social Seeder. Our partner in brand ambassadorship. Their proven ambassador program strategy with custom dashboard and our many years of experience in thought leadership content make for a winning team for B2B social selling strategy.

social Selling is about creating authentic professional relationships. Brands should be a facilitator in this so its employees (ambassadors) can exhale company culture effortlessly
Bram Huyghe, Strategy Lead Employer Branding at Social Seeder

So what have we learned?

We set up an international social selling program for one of customers that is still growing as we speak. These are our team’s 7 steps to kick-off an effective social selling program: 

1. Start off with a pilot

If this is your first social selling program, you might want to start off with a group of sales people that is a representation of your companies’ sales staff. Varying from more experienced in sales but less tech-savvy to new hires that are extremely social media minded. The wide range of profiles will help you set up a strategy that encourages colleagues to support each other with their own strengths.

Do a general check-up on their profiles to make them ready to connect with interested customers online.
Laura De Rycke, Social Selling Specialist at delaware  

2. Get the team on board

Once you know how proficient everyone is in social media usage, communicate what the program is about and why it’s in their best interests to sign up. You’ll also go over the details of how they will share their personal thought leadership insights as well as those that represent the company. Also explain what you expect of them.

Of course, it will be up to them to pick up the phone and follow up on who responds to the articles they have posted. It is also important that they give feedback on the content and on the actions they have taken. There is only so much you can measure in a tool…
Maaike Van Severen, Project Manager at delaware


3. Get leadership buy-in

Thought leadership starts from… your leadership. As an ambassador, it’s important to see your leadership post their own insights and lead by example.

Together with sales leaders we set the right goals, enable the right tool and provide them with knowledge on how to use thought leadership content in their selling strategies.
Simon Corveleyn, Social Selling Specialist at delaware 

4. Customise

Social media is all about connection. Now more than ever. And connection is only possible when you are authentic. The content therefor must be tailor-made to the ambassador’s profile as well as their target audience’s preferences.

We set up regular feedback moments with our ambassadors to enable them to make this program their own.
Lieve Scheirlinckx, Social Selling Specialist at delaware 

5. Make it as easy as possible

The Social Seeder tool is built to avoid any extra clicks. Because every click is one too many. Ambassadors can share prepared posts from the desktop app or their mobile device, anywhere and anytime.

Our partnership allows us to set up a program that doesn’t even require creative writing and still spreads authentic content.
Bram Huyghe, Strategy Lead Employer Branding at Social Seeder

6. Review

The custom dashboard in the Social Seeder tool lets your sales team dive deep into data and analytics. This makes it easy to review which content, which campaign but also which thought leader has more conversions.

A continuous optimisation of your way of sharing is possible.
Vincent Costens, Customer Success Manager at Social Seeder

7. Engage new ambassadors

Once your ambassadors are posting and engagement on their posts is increasing, you’re ready to scale up.

All the lessons learned from your core group can be used to engage new team members.
Dirk Stael, Thought Leading Content Marketeer at delaware

Social selling is different from hard selling because you build a relationship with your audience. You provide insights, share knowledge and, if you do it right, you build trust. Inspiring your audience by providing the right content is very different form a pushy sales talk. It’s also about listening and getting to know each other so you can truly find the touch points of what your audience is looking for and what you can offer them.

Learn more?

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