I define Strategic Social Selling as the strategy and process of building quality networks online that attract clients and accelerate the speed of business. People and technology work together to drive efficiency in personal human engagement through social listening, social publishing, social research, social engagement, and social collaboration. These are the 5 pillars of B2B Social selling for sales enablement.
After social listening, social publishing is the most important pillar for those who are seeking to build their pipeline and create a narrative that earns conversations at the right level. Publishing also has other benefits... it evidences our credibility when buyer's research us before meeting or purchasing, and having sellers write is the best sales training they'll ever experience. Anyone who doesn't constantly read to remain current in their industry cannot honestly call themselves a professional, and anyone who can't write can't sell in complex B2B selling today.
According to Corporate Executive Board (CEB) Research, 95% of buyers expect insight from the seller. Yet Forrester Research highlights that 85% of sellers fail to meet buyer expectations while CEB research found that 86% of sellers fail to differentiate in the mind of the buyer. We clearly have a problem but it can be solved when sales people embrace imperative to write within the guidelines of their company and with management and marketing serving as editors.
Constantly ask yourself what do people see when the find me online? ... uber sales person? ... job seeker? ... or do they see a person of credibility, insight and integrity who can help them transform or improve their business?
What should sales people write about? The first thing I encourage my client's sales people to proactively write about is the objections they encounter. For example, my recruitment industry clients hear a common objection of "I'm too busy to meet so just send me CVs if you have any candidates", I therefore help them write a Publisher post in their LinkedIn profile about how much time is wasted by poor filtering of candidates caused by not understanding what defines cultural fit (beyond qualifications, skills and experience). I also encourage them to write about the real costs associated with hiring the wrong people. All of this reinforces the value of a recruitment consultant who takes the time to understand what defines a successful employee beyond the obvious things in a job description.
Social content publishing is powerful on so many different levels. Some believe that sales people should not be content creators but I disagree and here is why. Done well, it can achieve the following:
- Evidence credibility, insight and domain knowledge when buyers research us
- Set the agenda about the value we offer and the values by which we operate
- Proactively deal with objections and position ourselves
- Attract audience and even leads. Don't believe this is possible? This screenshot is from a blog post I published about why Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software must evolve to Customer eXperience Management (CXM) and Peter posted a comment which was a lead for any CRM provider.
Here are my tips for standing our from the crowd and rising above the wall of white noise in social media.
- Ensure you have a strategy for themes, brand champions, publishing channels and content amplifiers.
- Identify your audience and then write for the one person or role you are seeking to influence. This makes it targeted, personal and on point.
- Be clear in your own mind about why your message is important and what you want them to do about. But avoid any call to action that overtly seeks to sell or paints you as a salesperson.
- Create a catchy headline (think like a newspaper editor).
- Use an eye-catching picture that has an abstract relationship to your topic. This post is a good example (it's a real photo and always provide attribution) Flickr creative commons is an excellent source of pictures that don;t breach copyright.
- Have an opening that hooks, a body that informs and a close that motivates or inspires. Deliver insight rather than mere information.
- Aim for 700 words and don't ramble. Longer is okay and some of my best posts with more than 200,000 reads were well over 1500 words long).
- Create back-links to other content but never use click-bate to take people to another site where they have to complete forms or register to view content.
If you're the leader of a business, bring sales and marketing together to create a social content publishing strategy to amplify corporate initiatives and enhance personal brands in a manner consistent with the corporate image and message. People buy from those they like and trust; then they focus on best value and lowest risk. The buyers journey begins online so ensure they find you and your people, and they they are attracted by what they see. Content publishing really is the best social strategy to stand out from the crowd. Be inspired by the 3 minute video below showing how Mobula Rays soar.
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main image photo by: www.bbusinessinsider.com - Octavio Aburto / iLCP