What is social selling?
You probably already know that your target customers hang out on social sites — whether it's a Facebook group for runners (who might buy your shorts!), a LinkedIn community for small business owners (who might buy your software!), or even a Quora thread about sticky IT issues (solution: your professional IT services). You may even have closed a sale by joining a group and weighing in on a question or two. But did you know there's a name for that?
It's true! Connecting with customers through social media, forums, and other socially-minded sites is an increasingly common sales approach that's usually referred to as social selling. Social channels provide some unique opportunities for businesses — most importantly:
Building rapport: Prospective customers' social profiles can tell you a lot about them, from their interests, to their professional background, to their age and/or gender. Whether you're selling socks or SaaS, all that info helps you create a personal connection and tailor your sales pitch to the prospect's needs.
Discovering new prospects: Browsing your social profiles and activity is a great way to expand your pool of potential leads. If your best customers all seem to belong to the same Facebook group, join it, and start contributing to discussions — if they're all connected to the same business leader on LinkedIn, consider pitching that person on a deal or partnership.
Why would a business use social selling as part of its growth strategy?
If social selling sounds involved and time-consuming, that’s because it is – but that’s not to say that it isn’t worth the investment. There are several reasons why a business might decide to commit resources to social selling:
The numbers are good
LinkedIn reports that 78% of companies that use social selling outsell competitors who do not. In a study from CSO Insights and Seismic, 39% of respondents said that using social selling techniques led to a reduction in the time spent researching clients, 33% said that the number of quality leads went up, and 31% said that they were able to develop deeper relationships with their customers.
Customers are receptive
For today's consumers, interacting with businesses on social media is something of a given — in fact, customers expect your company to be active on at least three social media channels, and according to LinkedIn, “over 76% of buyers feel ready to have a social media conversation.” It's safe to say that most, if not all of your prospective customers are more receptive to outreach via social media than they are to an unsolicited phone call.
It's an effective alternative to cold calling
“Nobody likes cold calling,” says Hootsuite. “And the truth is that it’s not very effective anyway: 90% of top decision-makers say they never respond to cold calls.” If you're relying on cold calling now, it's worth considering social selling as an alternative.
It pays just to listen
Even if you don't discover a huge untapped pool of leads on social sites, browsing those sites will make you more aware of the conversations people are having about your brand, products, and industry — and that awareness will help you frame your marketing and sales pitches more effectively.
You don't want to be left out
If you aren’t having these rapport-building interactions with your prospective customers, one of your competitors probably is. Hootsuite reports that 71% of people in sales and 90% of top salespeople use social selling.
So, how can Olark help me with social selling?
We're glad you asked!
If you're pursuing or considering a social selling strategy, we recommend adding the Visitor Insights PowerUp to your Olark plan. This PowerUp automatically collects links to your visitors' social media profiles (based on the email address that they provide in your pre-chat survey) and displays them alongside your chat in the Olark console.
Having links to your prospective customers' social profiles can help you:
Close sales: Use profile information to build rapport with your visitor and tailor your sales pitch to their interests.
Improve your social selling strategy: As you're chatting, open each visitor's social profile pages and save the links in a notes app or document. At the end of the day, review the profiles to identify groups or conversations you might want to join, new industries or demographics to consider targeting, or prospects in your visitors' networks to reach out to.
If you're using the Visitor Insights PowerUp as part of a social selling strategy, we'd love to hear your feedback and tips for other Olark customers! Add your comments to this post, or start a chat with our team to share your thoughts.