Social selling can be an extremely effective strategy. But for it to work, sales reps need to use the right networks, and that means using the networks that buyers are on.
Think of it like the "tree in a forest" thought experiment: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? But instead of trees, we have sales reps. If a sales rep writes a LinkedIn update and no buyer sees it, does it matter?
Given that there are dozens of social networks, it can be difficult choosing the right ones. The following tips should help you get started – no matter where you live or which industry you're in.
Familiarize Yourself with the Research
Thanks to LinkedIn's marketing efforts, many people assume that social selling is synonymous with LinkedIn. However, that's not the case. For instance, in China, you might have more luck engaging your buyers through WeChat or Weibo or QZone.
Or if you're in Europe, you might want to maintain relationships with your customers through Twitter and WhatsApp – in addition to LinkedIn.
Bottom line: The web is full of research on social network use, and it's broken down by geography and industry. Take some time to explore it.
Ask Your Customers
General research can be a great starting point, but it won't necessarily give you all the answers. There's a much better way to determine which networks you should use: Query your customers about where they spend their time. Ask them next time you see them in person, work the question into a check-in call, or send them a questionnaire via email.
As you discuss social networks with your customers, remember to ask them about professional appropriateness. How would they react if you reached out to them on the networks they use? For example, your customers might use Facebook all the time. But they might find it creepy if you, their sales rep, friended them on Facebook because they use Facebook for personal reasons rather than professional reasons.
Ask Your Sales Enablement Team to Run a Survey
Sometimes, it's not feasible to ask your customers about their social network use. In that case, your sales enablement team might be able to assist you by running a survey to your target geographies and industries.
In the questionnaire, the sales enablement team should ask respondents to rate the networks based on frequency of use. In addition, they should ask respondents which networks they use for business purposes rather than private purposes. As we mentioned above, sales reps need to choose networks that buyers use for professional purposes. Otherwise, they might scare potential customers away.
Ask Your Marketing Team Where Content Resonates
Don't be afraid to partner with marketing when you launch a social selling program. They've been at the social media game for a while, and they should have some good data points on what's working.
For example, your marketing department should know which social networks drive the most engagement for your company. Chances are good that, if your company's content resonates on those networks, your buyers are also on those networks.
But remember: There's a difference between how marketers use social networks and how sales reps use social networks. Marketers are trying to communicate to large numbers of people. Sales reps, on the other hand, are trying to form one-to-one relationships. Given this fundamental difference, salespeople might explore other channels. For example, they might want to try WhatsApp or another messaging app, which many marketers have not used when communicating with customers.
How Did You Determine Which Networks to Use?
The tips above should get you pointed in the right direction. If you have had experience choosing networks for B2B sales, leave a comment below, and let us know how you made your decision.
Until next time,
Posted by Mark Bajus