What is social selling?
Social selling is a buzzword in the sales industry, but what exactly is it?
It is a sales strategy revolving around relationship building – primarily through social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
These activities often take place online, but the most successful stories come from those who manage to merge their online and offline presences.
Social sellers build a reputation as industry experts by sharing relevant content, starting (and participating in) relevant discussions, and answering common questions.
Social selling is now replacing the old sales model of cold calling, qualifying leads, and giving demos. Instead of all this labor-intensive work to get a prospect to a demo, salespeople are focusing on creating content that reaches a relevant audience and encourages interested people to reach out to learn more.
This “soft-selling” approach is more appealing to customers now, as most of the purchase-decision making process occurs before a demo even takes place.
With the wealth of information online, customers are researching products online, evaluating about pros/cons, and reading reviews before going into a meeting with a salesperson.
Accenture’s State of B2B Procurement Study finds that 94% of B2B buyers conduct research online before making a business purchase1. They find that 55% of buyers conduct research online for at least half of their purchases and a study by the Corporate Executive Board shows that nearly 60% of a buying process is completed before a shopper reaches out to a supplier2.
And where is this research taking place?
Mostly, on social media.
The most common criticism against social selling is that it’s just a buzzword, a process without any merits or methodology. These people often argue that in-person meetings are more effective.