Social media has, without a doubt, changed the way we all interact with brands and individuals. Whether we’re searching for the latest product reviews, swiping on strangers and snapping to friends, or growing our professional networks, it’s happening on social.

B2B marketers haven’t wasted any time jumping on the bandwagon—93 percent ranked social media as their top content marketing tactic for 2016, and their sales counterparts have quickly followed suit.

Social selling, loosely defined, allows sellers to create an ongoing conversation with prospects and customers on social media. Unlike traditional sales tactics, social selling complements marketing nurture efforts to create long-term, high-value bonds with customers—which ultimately increases sales. In fact, 78 percent of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.

Relationships are the key to social selling. Once you build those relationships online, you’re better able to engage with prospects at the sales stage through tactics like warm calling and direct marketing.

But social selling doesn’t just happen as soon as you set up an online profile—it requires a commitment to communication, attention to your online persona, and a deeper understanding of your prospects’ business and the type of content they want to consume.

Your personal brand

Take a minute to check out at your LinkedIn profile. How does it look? Does it position you as an expert and explain the problems you’ve solved for clients in the past, or does it read like an outdated resume? It may be time for a social media makeover.

A fresh, up-to-date profile is key to maintaining a strong personal brand.

Your potential buyers will conduct research on you through social networking, just like they’d research any other product or service online. If your online presence is perfunctory or sloppy, they’ll just go elsewhere. Eighty-one percent of buyers today are more likely to engage with a strong, professional brand.

Give your prospects a reason to engage with you. When you maintain a current profile and post content that matters to them, you’re more likely to capture their attention—which is no easy task in an increasingly noisy social media world.

Content overload

Because it works so well, many marketers use social media as their primary content marketing tactic. Social networks contain an overwhelming amount of content and information vying for your buyers’ attention. The more companies and people buyers follow, the more content they have to sift through to find something that’s actually relevant or interesting.

So how do you cut through the noise and get potential customers to trust you? It takes some effort, but the solution is simple: create and curate original content, and display thought leadership.

You’re an expert in your field; you have a unique, informed point of view. You know the challenges your clients face and how to solve them. Why not give them information that showcases your expertise and perspective?

Once again, you’re developing your own professional brand, but you’re also fostering a sense of trust based on your expertise. If potential clients feel like you know what you’re talking about (and they believe you) they’re more likely to engage with you as customers—they’re already “warmed up.”

Warm calling

Cold calling is a thing of the past.

A relic of the pre-Internet age, cold calling your prospective customers is an outdated tactic that just doesn’t work anymore. In fact, 90 percent of decision makers never answer a cold call and only 2 percent of cold calls result in a meeting. With success rates like that, it’s just not worth the time and effort.

But there’s a better way to engage potential buyers: warm calling.

As the name implies, warm calling involves reaching out to customers who have been “warmed up” and are already familiar with and interested in your company. It’s far more effective than cold calling, and it’s considerably less awkward for everyone involved.

The trick is to identify potential buyers and educate yourself about them before you reach out.

Warm calling happens after a potential buyer has shown interest in your content, such as:

  • Downloading information from your company website or your personal blog
  • Viewing your LinkedIn profile
  • Following you or your company on a social network
  • “Liking” or commenting on a post from you or your company

Knowledge is power

Now that you know who your potential customers are, it can be tempting to reach out to them right away. Fight that urge! You’ve got some research to do before you make contact.

They’ve taken the time to show some interest in your company’s solutions, so now it’s time to return the favor and learn a little more about your potential customers so you can create messaging that actually speaks to their needs.

Start by following prospects and their companies on social media, either natively or with a tool like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which can push updates from the people you follow directly to your email. Use the platform that works best for you, but get online and learn more about your audience. Does a potential customer have a new position? Has a company you’d like to sell to made the news recently, or launched a new product or service? Social media and the web have the answers you need to better understand your customers—you just need to dig a little.

Once you’re better informed about your future client’s needs, you’re better positioned to have a relevant, engaging first conversation—a true warm call.

Want to know more about social selling and ways to use social media?  Contact us!