What is Social Selling And How Can You Use it to Nurture Customer Relationships?
If you’ve been on social media for a while, I am sure you’ve heard of the term ”social selling”.
But what is it, really? Is it some kind of buzzword that doesn’t deserve a second thought, or is it something that can help you build your brand through social media?
The word gives it away a little, but social selling is much more than just selling on social media. Instead, it’s a completely new approach to using social media to establish strong relationships with your potential customers and prospects, increasing their trust in you, and ultimately getting them to convert. It’s not just about using social media to shove ads down your followers’ throats because we all know how well that works.
With social media constantly changing, and more importantly, more and more businesses are making social media a part of their marketing strategy, the competition is now greater than ever. This means that marketers need to find new ways to cut through the noise and convince their customers that they are the best.
And social selling brings us down to the purest and most effective way of selling – by building relationships.
If social selling is not part of your overall social media strategy, now is the time to make it a part of it.
To prove how important social selling is, a study (Social Selling: A New B2B Imperative) conducted by surveyed 265 sales and marketing leaders and found that “49 percent of B2B enterprises have developed a formal social selling program, and 28 percent are in the process of doing so.”
What does this mean?
It means that unless you start investing in social selling, you’re running a high risk of getting outrun by your competitors.
In this post that’s exactly what I am going to teach you. in this article, I’ll discuss what social selling is, in detail, and then also tell you how you can incorporate it into your very own social media strategy to ultimately drive more sales – as well as establishing valuable customer relationships while doing so.
The problem with selling on social media
A big problem of selling on social media, at least how marketers see it, is that they don’t connect with their audience on social media. They have a hard time building relationships, and as a result, it is impossible for them to start with social selling. Or, is it?
Building relationships are difficult for all brands, but it can be even more difficult for others, especially those in ”boring” or conservative industries like baking or finance. But the truth is that you don’t need to have your relationships in place when working with social selling because a part of social selling is building relationships! In fact, it is the most important part of it. How you use those relationships to then drive sales is just a small part of the journey, because it is the relationships that lay the foundation for selling with this strategy.
What is social selling?
There are different explanations of the term social selling, but we like to keep it short and comprehensible, and then dig into the nitty-gritty of it, and what it really means.
The Writer and editor Christina Newberry defined it explains social selling in the following way:
“Social selling is the art of using social networks to find, connect with, understand, and nurture sales prospects. It’s the modern way to develop meaningful relationships with potential customers that keep you — and your brand — front of mind, so you’re the natural first point of contact when a prospect is ready to buy.”
This means that you’re using social media as a tool to find, interact, and engage with your target audience over a long period of time (that’s how strong relationships are built) so that they establish trust in you, and have your brand back of and because of how awesome you are.
When they are ready to buy, the natural choice will be to buy from someone they trust – and that’s you! Of course,
This also means that you cannot see social selling as a short-term strategy. If you are looking for quick bucks, then this is the wrong article and strategy for you, but if you are focusing on building strong relationships that will be tremendously valuable long-term, and that will lead to loyal supporters of your brand, then social selling is a strategy that you cannot afford to neglect.
You can even say that social selling is the modern way of building relationships with your prospects. Back in the days, the only way to do this was to shake hands, but if you think about it, it is a very ineffective method time wise.
With social selling, the process of building relationships with prospects is streamlined, and today, you can engage and interact with several hundred prospects a day whereas with meeting people in real life, you only had so much time and so many people you could meet.
Sure, I am aware of the fact that there’s not a lot that strengthens relationships as much as meeting people in real life, but social selling is not so bad either – plus, it’s a lot more effective.
Moreover, back in the days, you met a person and interacted with them, but then a lot of time could pass by until you met them again – if you ever did, whereas, with social media, you can engage with them on a daily basis, preventing them from ever forgetting you.
Social selling can be summarised in these 5 points:
- Finding prospects and potential customers
- Connecting with them
- Understanding them and nurturing relationships with them, and as a result of this increasing their trust in you
- Engaging with them time and time over
- Pitching to them (optional)
The truth is that social selling is not that different from building relationships with your potential customers in other ways. The only difference is that you’re using online social tools to engage in the relationship-building strategy.
You’re already one step ahead
You’ll be happy to hear that you’ve probably already worked with the basics of social selling – whether you know it or not.
If you’re using social media, you’ve interacted and engaged with your audience, right?
This means that you have worked with social selling, but just not used the term to describe your online activities.
Social selling is more than reaching your audience
Social selling is so much more than reaching your target audience. It is about taking the time to listen to them and identifying the perfect moment to jump into the conversation and presenting your solution. And this is also where your pitch comes in. As I mentioned above, the pitch is optional, meaning that you can gain great results from social selling without the pitch due to the fact that people will establish trust in you and have your brand back in mind anyway, but pitching done correctly can help you boost the results of your efforts.
The caveat though, is that it is important that you do it the right way. If you come off as overly promotive, you risk harming your relationships and the trust people built in you – or even worse, risk losing your contacts forever.
It is therefore very important that you pitch carefully.
The key to pitching your brand and products is providing them value. When you listen to the conversations and see that someone is having a problem that your brand can solve, that’s when you should make the pitch. Your proposition needs to stand out from the rest of the marketing messages people receive on social media, and when you pitch them at the exact right time, you show that you’ve taken the time to listen to them and what they have to say.
How Can You Use Social Selling to Nurture Customer Relationships?
1.Be human and ready to engage
Chatbots and other automated tools are increasing in popularity because they save brands a lot of time. Moreover, they are also getting a lot smarter.
But when working with social selling, it should be 100% human. People don’t build relationships with robots. They build relationships with other humans, and we all know that robots can’t show feelings – an important part of establishing strong relationships.
I am not clamping down on chatbots in general because it is true that they can be extremely helpful for brands -especially those that receive hundreds and hundreds of inquiries every day, but for social selling, I highly recommend that you stay away from chatbots.
At least for now, until robots get a lot smarter and can act more like humans.
If there’s something that will hurt you and your job of establishing trust, it is chatbot fails like this one:
Don’t even take the risk. Sure, it will be time-consuming to manage all your interactions manually, but it will be tremendously valuable long-term. If you’re going to use bots, leave them to manage customer service questions and other marketing tasks, but for selling, nothing beats a real-life human.
Remember that the foundation to selling with social selling is by building relationships. Think about the things that help you build relationships and you’ll have an easier time building relationships that lead to sales.
Make yourself more human, more approachable and you’re well on the way to building your relationships.
2. Be consistent
Strong relationships aren’t built in a day.
Think about it:
How long have you known your best friend?
And would you trust a recommendation by them?
Good relationships take time to build, and if you ignore that fact, you’ll give up before you’ve crossed the finish line.
You need to engage with your prospects time and time over before they eventually start developing some sort of trust in you.
The best part is that it is the interactions that take place once you’ve started to get to know them that are the most rewarding. When you meet someone for the first time, you’re very distant, polite, and mostly talk about general subjects, and keep away from personal subjects, right?
Well, most of the time anyway.
But after a few meetings, you’re starting to get to know each other, and you start asking more personal questions and show them that you remember what they said last time by asking how it went with the things they spoke about earlier etc. When you are in this position, you are establishing the most
When you are in this position of your relationship, people will be far less likely to say no to you when you pitch to them, simply because of the fact that they want to be kind and support you. And if you pitch when they have talked about a pain point they have that your problem can solve, they’ll say yes right on the spot.
3.Take the time to listen to your audience
I mentioned that identifying when a prospect has a problem that your brand can solve is the most effective way to use social selling. This is because of two reasons.
First, if you’ve worked with social selling before their problem has encountered, they’ll have your brand top of mind and instantly think of you.
Secondly, if you can identify that your prospect is having a problem you can solve, you can quickly jump into the conversation and let them know how you can make their life easier.
The best part is that social media has opened up a completely new world for brands to identify this. Back in the days, people spoke to each other about a problem they had face-to-face (they still do), but now a lot of those conversations can be found on social media. If you are able to identify them.
This means that if you were going to identify a problem people had, you would have to tap them and listen to their conversations, but that wasn’t really an option, was it?
People share a ton of information on social media that is tremendously valuable for brands. They talk about pain points they have, personal information that allows you to interact with them on a much more personal level, and everything in between.
But in order for you to hear what they are saying, you need to actually listen!
There are several social media monitoring tools you can use, such as Hootsuite streams. This allows you to monitor an array of different things based on what you select, such as: what people are saying about your brand, your industry, your competitors, industry leaders, etc.
This allows you to effectively identify any problems and pain points people might have, which you then can jump in and help them. When you reach out to them, avoid coming off as overly promotive as this can turn them off. Instead, try to show that you truly care and wish to help them.
4. Don’t forget your most loyal supporters
As you work with social selling, you’ll be able to accumulate a few loyal followers on the way. Loyal followers are valuable for any type of brands as they promote your brand completely for free and spread the message about how awesome you are.
But in order to keep them loyal, you need to show that you truly value them and appreciate them.
Always, always, always provide value!
This stretches outside of just social selling. If you want to succeed as a business and drive more sales, you need to provide your audience value.
What does this mean?
Essentially, it means that you should give more than you take, and give before you take.
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk especially emphasizes the importance of providing value if you want to succeed as a business.
He is saying that the biggest mistake brands make is asking their customers to buy from them without ever having given them anything. When you haven’t provided them with something of value, you don’t have a leverage, and most of the people you ask will , therefore,decline your offer.
But when you bombard them with value, eventually they’ll become so thankful that they feel like they’re obligated to buy from you.
When you combine value with social selling, that’s when you have a recipe for success. You’ve already increased their trust in you and built strong relationships with them. First, they trust you, as a result of your consistent engaging (trust which is the foundation to driving sales), and then you’ve provided them with so much value so they’re feeling like they want to give something back.
A famous quote from Vaynerchuk is:
And this is exactly the mindset you want to have when working with social selling.
So how do you provide value and what it is?
Well, what is considered as valuable depends on the person.
A misconception that some people have is that you need to provide value to them in the form of cold hard cash or coupon codes or discounts, but that’s absolutely not the case.
Something so simple as making your prospect laugh is considered to be something of value.
Some of the most common value propositions are:
- Money, gifts, coupons
Let’s say you share a post with information that educate your audience about a topic in your industry. This is “value”, but if they then comment and thank you for the post (or something else that shows their interest in the post), you can take it one step further and continue giving them value by linking to a guide that you wrote that goes more in-depth about that exact subject.
See how you can continue to give and give if you just take the time to interact with your audience and listen to what they are actually saying?
This is something I’ve found tremendous success from on social media.
It’s important that you show appreciation to your most loyal followers, but what do you think is a way to make them loyal in the first place?
For me, it was showing (and telling) that I was sincerely thankful for their support and loyalty.
As a result, my followers started coming back every time i shared a post to engage with my post, but mostly with me, because they knew that I would appreciate their comment.
When you tell people who engage with you that you are thankful for their messages and that you appreciate their support, they will be more happy and positive to engaging with you.
And the more they engage with you, the more opportunities you have to improve your relationships with them
Social selling should be a strategy of all brands on social m edia. We all know that social meida has a tremendous power in convincing people to buy from you, but in order to get them to do so, you need to have a strategy on how you’re going to take people down your sales funnel.
The single most effective way to do so is by providing them with value.
Just ask yourself: what does my target audience find valuable?