The concept of social selling has been around for a while now. What I am about to write is not to introduce the concept, but merely point out the fact that it is still one of the most under-utilized B2B digital strategies.
Organizations have heard and known about it for some time, yet fail to implement it in their everyday digital strategy plan. Implementing social selling in B2B is quite different from having a standard social media plan.
Social selling is not about brand awareness or answering customer service related queries through social media channels, but forging networks with decision-makers and influencers in any given industry. Not to mention, social selling in a B2B setting can open new opportunities to bypass gatekeepers, who may otherwise hinder your efforts to reach out to decision-makers through other means i.e. via telephone, email, snail mail and so forth.
This, of course, will not cost the employer money directly i.e. like through telephone calls, but merely the time of your sales or marketing team. This time can, of course, be implemented into the day to day business time. In fact, all it takes is setting aside approx. 10-20 minutes of their time per day to reap the benefits of reaching out to core prospects. Whatever social channel you choose, make sure it is relevant to your organization’s market. I’ll advise you to always do some market research first, to make sure that the relevant lead prospects are present and active on the channel of your choosing.
Social selling on LinkedIn: a B2B lead generation tool
In this post, the sole focus will be on LinkedIn, as personally, it was the most successful channel to date for B2B, but it can also be used to leverage B2C contacts and potential corporate funders for charities. I am sure you are asking if it really works for all three sectors? You bet it does! Over the years, I have been able to test the power of social selling via LinkedIn against all three sectors.
The important and critical part before embarking on social selling is, that you should always create a digital strategy for each specific social media channel.
Evaluating your organization’s social selling strategy
It’s time to assess the steps that can be taken for your organization:
1. Assess what/who your core target market is.
2. What is the best social channel for your organization to reach out on? Basically, where does your core audience hang out?
3. What type of social selling strategy will you deploy? In other words, will you first target your prospects through groups or directly e-mail prospects and so forth.
- Would you deploy content in groups to warm potential leads, or purely dip your toe in to see what is going on?
- Will you visit the groups to see who you could reach out to potentially on a one to one basis? Use the group as a tool to leverage potential contacts?
- Will you purely use it to start engaging through comments under each article to be seen and heard as an expert within your chosen industry?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential prospects directly (will write a follow-up article on this in the next few weeks).
Engaging through content
4. If you choose the content strategy way to start engaging with prospects, you better have a content strategy plan for each social media channel. You should plan at least 3 months ahead by creating a content calendar.
What I mean by that, if you can afford to create more than one article, a series of articles, please do so. I know resources and time can be difficult in a busy sales and marketing team, I know, I work in a department where time seems to fly.
It is also imperative that you look at other departments where you could potentially leverage content. For example, if you have an R&D department or a policy team etc. make sure you leverage an article from them at least once a week or every fortnight. Of course, this all depends on the size of the department and the time you can have them devoted to writing technical or policy-related content. Also, don’t forget to leverage the business/commercial team for opinion pieces and trends within your industry. It can also make a great read for targeted decision-makers/executives.
If you are a marketer who works in the charity sector, make sure you leverage the policy team for content and even fundraising team. They always have a lot to talk about.
5. Once your articles/content start getting some engagement/reaction from your targeted prospects, make sure you are responding to their opinions, criticisms, and general comments where you can. Engagement is the key!
6. Which personel/departments will be responsible for reaching out directly to prospects?
7. How much time can each individual devote to social selling within your organization? This can be per several minutes, hours, or even several days of the week, but it all depends on your organization’s ability to invest.
Simple take away template
I have included a very simple to understand, but more in-depth/expanded takeaway template. Make sure you download my step by step “Simple social selling evaluation steps” document. Please do implement it into your social selling strategy.
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Read the next article (part2) in the series on how to create the perfect social selling content strategy.