I hear over and over that a top challenge for managed services providers (MSPs) is effectively acquiring new clients. It’s very difficult to run a business, handle client care, payroll, HR duties, finance and then in your spare try to “sell.” It’s a common challenge for many MSP owners, but I believe that effective social selling can play a key role in helping you effectively acquire more clients and up-sell, cross-sell and retain your existing ones.
I first started to study and implement social selling in 2014 when I met Annie Stankevich, she was my LinkedIn sales rep at the time. Annie helped me transform how we prospected and engaged with clients at my previous company by leveraging social selling techniques Today, I am fully bought into how powerful social selling can be.
Now, there are a few resources out there talking about effective social selling at the user level, but I am going to take a different approach. Instead, let’s focus on an effective social selling strategy for the business owner or sales leader.
First, you might be wondering “why is social selling so important?” Well, I’ll let these statistics from MarketingProfs answer that question:
- 84 percent of B2B executives state that social media is a component of their purchase decisions.
- 72 percent of B2B buyers use social media to research solutions.
Buyers and decision makers are turning to social media to gain industry insights and inform specific purchase decisions. This is why it’s so important to be present on social media – where buyers are learning – and use these channels proactively.
So now you might be thinking, “I get that it’s important, but what’s the ROI of social selling?” Again, let’s turn to these numbers published by Sales for Life about the sales performance of social sellers vs. non-social sellers:
- The speed of acquiring new clients for social sellers is 57 percent faster.
- The likelihood of hitting revenue goals is 78 percent higher for social sellers.
So, the numbers say it all. We now know that almost three fourths of your target clients are using social media in the decision-making process, and it’s clear that being on social media can help you get in front of these clients. If you already have a presence on these platforms and are looking to take things up a notch, social selling can play a huge role in making that happen. So how can you now create a strategy that fits into your MSP business? Let me walk you through my three keys to implementing a social selling strategy that will make a positive impact.
The Three Keys to Social Selling
1. Lead by Example and Get Engaged
I know that as a business owner, time is a precious commodity. However, you shouldn’t use this as an excuse. When you make the commitment to social selling, you need to be all in. So how can you do that? Personally, I focus on LinkedIn as my number one platform, and then I leverage Twitter as my backup. I’ve found it’s far more effective to engage with your target clients on LinkedIn, and then leverage Twitter for instant industry updates and the sharing of news.
Does this mean that you need to be on Twitter? Not necessarily, but your company should have an account and be using it effectively. Also, it can be a valuable platform for keeping an eye on your industry.
Do you need to be on LinkedIn? Yes. If you’re not personally committed to this and leading the way, the likelihood of your company’s success with social selling will go way down.
On average, I spend between 10 to 20 minutes per day engaging on these two social platforms. Social selling doesn’t have to be time-consuming, it just has to be consistent.
2. Extend Your Company Brand
Imagine this scenario, one of your technicians engages with a prospective client and they connect on LinkedIn. Immediately, the prospect goes to their profile and sees some key themes, such as:
- A professional photo
- A proper description of your company
- Recommendations from other clients
- A strong and relevant network
- Relevant posts by your technician that positions them as a thought leader to the client
- A list of certifications
- Working links to your company’s website, client portal, phone number, etc.
Now imagine that your technician connected with that prospect, but had none of the items listed above. You probably wouldn’t do business with a borderline blank profile, and neither would your prospective clients. This is why a key to social selling is getting your entire company involved. You need to extend your company brand across your whole workforce. When a prospective client is interacting with one of your employees, they’ll be presented with the same messaging and the same value proposition, which can increase your chances of closing that deal.
3. Manage and Maintain a Rhythm
Now that you have completed the first two steps, you need to work on fitting social selling into your day-to-day. In order for your social selling strategy to become operationalized, here is what you need to do:
- Stay active and engage with your clients and employees on your social platforms.
- Share and like their posts – they will appreciate this and become more engaged.
- Work as a team on improving your profiles. LinkedIn some great resources for how to professionalize your profile, so be sure to leverage them as a team.
- Make social selling an official part of your selling process, on both the new account acquisition and cross-sell and up-sell engagements.
- Make it an expectation of how you plan to run your company, not an option.
There you have it. Now it's time to go out there and get social selling!
By Gretchen Hoffman