The modern business-to-business (B2B) sales cycle and buyer’s journey have changed dramatically over the last several years—and if you’re still relying on traditional prospecting tactics to win new business, you may be limiting your pipeline and losing deals.
While cold calls and referrals can still be valuable, the most successful sales reps today are leveraging digital channels and creating personalized prospect experiences to drive success—and one of the best ways to do this is through social selling.
Why Social Selling?
Many MSPs and IT service providers today have a social media presence; it might be a Facebook page with a few likes, a Twitter account that pushes a few updates each week, or perhaps a LinkedIn company page with a few content assets posted to it. But having a social presence is only half the battle—to effectively generate leads, drive interest and win business via these platforms, you’ll need to focus on actively engaging with your prospects and mining data for useful information. In other words, you’ll need your reps to become social sellers.
Let’s look at a basic definition of social selling from Hootsuite:
“Social selling is the art of using social networks to find, connect with, understand, and nurture sales prospects. It’s the modern way to develop meaningful relationships with potential customers that keep you—and your brand—front of mind. This makes you the natural first point of contact when a prospect is ready to buy.”
Now, if you’re thinking that social selling is a “nice-to-have” strategy that might not actually move the needle too much, think again. According to CEB, 75 percent of B2B buyers are using social media today to be more informed on vendors—and according to Harvard Business Review, 90 percent of decision makers say they never respond to cold outreach.
Still not convinced? According to LinkedIn, social sellers are 45 percent more likely to exceed quota, and content has 2x higher engagement when shared by your employees via social media.
The statistics around social selling are quite compelling—but how exactly should you go about getting started? What are some of the key things you should be focusing on when adopting a social selling mindset? At its core, social selling will enable you to accomplish three things that traditional prospecting techniques cannot:
1. Target the Right Companies—And the Right Buyers
You simply can’t be “all things to all people” in today’s IT landscape. As MSPs become more vertically and geographically focused, it’s becoming increasingly important to focus on finding the right type of prospects. Fortunately, social media makes it easier than ever to sell beyond your personal network and discover new leads based on the companies and people you’re already connected with.
Whether it’s mining your connections to discover 2nd- and 3rd-degree opportunities (LinkedIn searches can provide terrific results here), or joining groups to find large concentrations of like-minded business owners to interact with, these platforms can help you break into new territories or double down on existing ones.
Once you’ve found some organizations that you’d like to pursue, you’ll have a much easier time identifying—and connecting with—key decision makers via social media. Most company profiles will link directly to employees and team members, so you can quickly identify who you’ll likely be selling to and how the business is structured. This single tactic of identifying the right buyer or persona before you begin marketing to that business can help you save quite a bit of time and spare you some cold calls too.
2. Understand What Information Your Buyers Value
Another great benefit of social selling is that it provides a lot more information about your prospects than what other channels can offer. By skimming someone’s LinkedIn profile, you can discover what they’re interested in, what their professional and academic background looks like, and you might even find some pain points in the form of recent posts, updates or articles that are published by that person.
This context provides tremendous value for sales reps—even just finding one or two data points to use as a lead-in to a sales conversation can help set the tone and encourage prospects to spend a few minutes speaking with you. Think about it; your prospects are getting sales calls every day from reps who are giving the same exact pitch over and over—but you can really cut through the clutter and noise if you use the information that’s available to you via social media. Maybe your rep shares an alma mater with a prospect, or both are involved with the same philanthropic cause. Anything you can do to bridge the gap between your reps and your prospects will increase your chances of getting through and having a valuable conversation.
3. Engage Buyers with Personalized Outreach
The ability to better target buyers and understand what they value is what enables you to deliver the highly personalized and customized sales experience that many B2B buyers today have come to expect.
By mining data, joining groups, interacting, and posting updates, you’ll be able to develop a sales pitch that is mapped directly to the needs of the businesses you’re targeting. See a prospect posting about ransomware and concerns around cybersecurity? Lead with that in your pitch. Find someone talking about why they’re fed up with their existing IT provider? Talk about how you’d respond to the challenges they’re experiencing.
Get Started with Social Selling: Three Action Items
Are you ready to get started with social selling? The techniques outlined in this post should help your team uncover the information they need, engage with prospects and improve their success rate—but before doing any of that, you’ll want to follow these three initial steps to kick things off:
Polish Your Profile(s) – Social media is all about making the right impression, and a weak profile is a sure-fire way to get your prospects to ignore you. Make sure that everyone in your team has nice clean photos, matching company descriptions, accurate job titles, etc., before they start engaging with prospects.
Get Connected – Start by connecting with your other team members, then move toward your customers and vendors or technology partners. The bigger and more interconnected your networks are, the more prospects you’ll be able to find.
Engage – The point of social media is to, well, get social! If your reps start spamming prospects out of the blue, it may give the wrong impression. Start by joining some groups, responding to questions and comments, and posting some status updates of your own to get a steady stream of content flowing before you start reaching out to your new connections.
Whether you’re struggling to generate new leads or have a healthy pipeline but need more insight into your prospects’ businesses, social selling is a great way for MSPs to increase their chances of success. The tactics outlined here are designed to help your team start adopting a social selling mindset—before long, they’ll become muscle memory and tasks that your reps are completing as part of their daily routines.
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