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Whenever a topic is relatively new, a variety of myths abound. Social selling is no exception. We busted a few myths in this post from August of 2016: 8 Social Selling Myths That You Might Believe.

Today, we will address another myth: the notion that social selling is a fancy content distribution machine. As we'll discuss, content is essential, but it's not the only essential piece of a strong social sales strategy for B2B companies.

Content's Role in Social Selling

The fact is, you can't do social selling without content. Stop and think about the extent to which social networks rely on content. How many links to articles do you see on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds? How many images, memes, and infographics do you see?

Sharing content is how we build relationships online. It's how we let people know we're thinking about them. It's how we show other people who we are.

For sellers, content is how we add value during our customers' journey. It's how we establish credibility with buyers. It's how we become go-to resources.

But confusion arises when people believe that sharing content on social media is synonymous with social selling. Social selling is so much more than that. What's more, some of the content sharing online can be quite terrible. Here are a few of the cardinal sins that you may have witnessed:

  • Reps fail to add context to the content by explaining why they are sharing an article or adding their own perspective.
  • Their delivery might be ill-timed or poorly formatted for each individual social network.
  • Their messages are untargeted and show a lack of knowledge of the relevant topics in their industries, which brings us to social listening…

Listen First

Social selling can't be done properly without social listening. Don't know what social listening is? Think of it as doing research. You're researching your verticals, your markets, your competitors, your target customers, and your target companies.

Ask yourself questions like: What are people talking about in my network? What are the industry trends? What are my target companies sharing online? How do the members of my buying committee interact online? What do my buyers post about?

By asking those questions, you're in a better position to interact with your customers – both online and offline.

On an interpersonal level, you'll be more empathetic. You'll have a better understanding of where your customers are coming from, what makes them tick, and how you can build rapport with them. For example, if one of your prospects tweets about old Hollywood movies, you might make a Singing in the Rain reference on a sales call, and you'll be able to build a deeper personal connection.

From a content perspective, listening will make you a more relevant and strategic sharer of content. Listening will give you a better idea of what's being discussed in your industry and how you can insert yourself into those discussions. As well, it will show you how your individual buyers think and where they find themselves in the buying journey. As a result, you'll be able to deliver more targeted content that will help nudge buyers to the next stage of their journey.

From a sales perspective, you'll be able to better position your product or services to the buying committee – once you get to the pitching stage. (Not all buyers are ready for a pitch right away!) By doing your homework and positioning your product accordingly, you'll be more likely to win your deals.

Want to learn more about social listening? Check out this post on the subject.

 

"Good Enough" Social Selling Technology

The importance of social listening has ramifications for choosing social selling software. Some companies are opting for "good enough" solutions. Many times, these solutions are nothing more than content distribution machines. They allow users to upload a piece of content and distribute it among their sales reps, who can then share it to social networks.

That type of social selling technology is missing a huge component: social listening. Without social listening, your sales reps won't understand their buyers and tailor their interactions accordingly. A complete social selling solution, on the other hand, will enable sellers to research their buyers and interact with them in more meaningful ways.

Here are a few social listening features that you might want to look for:

  • Reps can create saved web searches for their prospects and target companies
  • Reps can create Twitter lists so that they can easily group and monitor prospects
  • Reps can easily follow Twitter hashtags and relevant conversations from the social selling platform

Have you fallen for a "good enough" social selling solution? Are you looking for a more complete product? Contact us. We'd love to discuss your needs.

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Posted by Mark Bajus

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