65% of companies report that they have acquired a customer through LinkedIn; 52% of companies report they’ve acquired customers through Facebook, and 44% have acquired customers through Twitter Platforms. Like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are powerful ways for businesses to drive traffic, convert new leads and acquire customers.
The New Reality of Selling (it’s Social) It’s impossible to ignore the impact
It’s becoming almost impossible to ignore the impact social networks are having on sales. Much of the face-to- face networking that took place at trade shows and conferences are now happening online, and many introductions are happening via social connections.
The reality is, salespeople who ignore social networks are not going to scale their businesses as effectively as they could.
#1 Addressing Changing Buyer Behavior
Researching a purchase used to be remarkably time consuming, especially in the business-to-business world. The Internet and professional networks like LinkedIn have changed this for good.
Now, when a prospect is considering making a purchase, he can find out everything there is to know with a few keystrokes. That’s why, according to a 2012 Corporate Executive Board report, 57% of every buying decision is already made before there is any sales rep involvement.
Plus, buyers no longer have a compelling reason to take a salesperson’s call during their research phase. A recent IBM Preference Study showed that cold calls are ineffective 97% of the time, and this number has been increasing by 7% every year since 2010.
It’s in the space between quantity and quality of information that social selling can give you a tremendous advantage. Social selling lets you provide the right information at the right times.
Sales reps on average have to generate 70% of their own sales leads if they want to achieve their goals.
#2 Sales Reps Owning Their Lead Generation
There is often a strict division between marketing and sales when it comes to revenue responsibility. Despite recent advances in the effectiveness of marketing, a recent study conducted by CustomerThink determined that on average, marketing is still only responsible for 30% of lead generation for sales.
LinkedIn helps remove that divide by enabling sales professionals to access a network of more than 200 million members who generate over 2 billion status updates per week. You’re now able to identify and engage with more prospects than ever before.
#3 Identifying the Right People in Target Organizations
Building out a target account list is time consuming and difficult. Even after your accounts are identified, which people should you approach within?
Enter social selling.
LinkedIn enables you to take a personalized approach to prospecting within the massive universe of 200 million members on the platform.
For example, leverage powerful search capabilities within 1st and 2nd degree connections to find a starting point for your reach-out efforts. Search by geography, title, and most importantly, your relationships to prospects within your professional network.
Social selling on LinkedIn changes the game from a cold numbers approach to a high quality, low-volume, trusted approach. Leverage personal relationships within your professional network to drive sales results.
#4 Unlocking the Power of Connections to Access New Accounts
Personal connections on LinkedIn are the best way to build a pipeline full of people most likely to turn into new customers.
- A warm referral increases the odds of a sales success 2x-4x;1 and
- 53% of sales professionals have received introductions to new opportunities from their coworkers.
Easily prompt introductions on LinkedIn to key decision makers from people who know and trust you. Tap into your entire network of contacts to uncover opportunities.
To understand spheres of influence of your buyers, try to determine if you’re connected to people in their networks.
Back when many businesses had a command-andcontrol management structure, reps could squeak by. But in the current “decision by committee” environment, ignoring ancillary decision makers and influencers is a recipe for disaster.
#5 Taking Advantage of Team Buying
While there is often one final decision maker, there are almost always other influencers in a major purchase that make the difference as to whether or not it ultimately happens.
A 2012 survey of B2B buyers conducted by Demand Gen Report uncovered that…
- Buyers who say they involve more team members in the buying process jumped by more than 67% over a similar 2011 study; and
- 50% more decision makers seek the input of more internal members during the decision making process, compared to 30% of buyers surveyed in 2011.
With social selling on LinkedIn, you can easily enact a “multi-thread strategy” by targeting the primary decision maker and identifying the influencers connected to that buyer.
Back when many businesses had a command-and-control management structure, reps could squeak by. But in the current “decisionby- committee” environment, ignoring ancillary decision makers and influencers is a recipe for disaster.
#6 Identifying the Right Topics to Talk About
Above all else, sales is about establishing relevance. If you could somehow ensure that you’d be in front of people at the exact moment they needed to solve the precise problems that your product addressed, you’d close deals 100% of the time.
Social selling on LinkedIn gets salespeople closer to this than ever before.
Establish yourself as a “social citizen.” Regularly interact socially on LinkedIn, where people who make decisions in your target industries spend time and explore solutions to their most pressing challenges.
Active social citizens receive a steady stream of information about what is top-of-mind for the decision makers in their networks.
Buyers expect you to be prepared before the meeting. Even if that just means a quick glance at their LinkedIn profile.
#7 Driving Business Results
Social selling allows modern reps to combine the best of building relationships and providing thought leadership to drive deals.
Take Jill Rowley, Eloqua’s top salesperson. When she began using social selling, her numbers went through the roof.
“Everyone I meet I add on LinkedIn,” Rowley says. “Before a meeting, I’ll look up each person and find one piece of information I’ll relate to them with so that I’ll stand out from the crowd. They’ll remember meeting me.”
Eloqua has seen significant business as a result of adopting social selling using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, including:
- Increased conversion rates of leads to opportunities by 25%;
- Increased more than 15% of reps exceeding sales quotas; and
- Had average sales cycle time decrease of 20 days.
Effective use of sales intelligence increases revenue productivity per sales rep by 17%. With social sales intelligence, you can reach buyers at exactly the right moment.
With more than 1 billion active users on Facebook, there’s no denying that this social networking site is a viable place to attract potential customers. On your page, you can post interesting photos or engaging posts. Your goal is to build a community where you can interact and build relationships. Whether it’s with your college roommate or a contact you met at a networking event, you never know where your next new business lead will come from.
Facebook and inbound marketing go hand in hand. By posting regular status updates on your page with teasers enticing your community to click on the provided link, you can drive traffic back to your website. You can also easily promote your most recent blog post and post a link to the full entry – another way to drive traffic back to your site. In addition, you can use Facebook to promote your calls-to-action (CTAs), which will enable you to build up your email list and bring your potential customers down the sales funnel.
Google has evolved from a 1996 research project into the world’s most visited website with more than five billion searches every day. Providing the most relevant search results to users fuels its massive growth. Google monetizes this huge stream of traffic with pay-per-click advertising (AdWords) placed next to organic results.
Most recently, recognizing the impact of social media, Google started its own social network — Google +.
We earn our audience’s attention with compelling content. It’s our job to get it discovered in search engine page results whenever people search for a solution to a problem that we provide. Doing that effectively today means also sharing content on social networks where people who’ve chosen (how nice of them!) to stay in contact with us.
And because Google now also looks at our content post’s popularity on social networks as a way to determine what to include in its SERPs, we rejoice because we’ve been doing things the right (even if more difficult) way all along. It’s up to us to convert strangers into customers and promoters of our businesses. Google’s reach and widespread popularity helps us do just that.
Pinterest is the rapidly growing social media platform that allows its users to collect and share images. Until recently, marketing strategies used advertising that targeted a passive audience. Pictures were interspersed within the magazines we read, sing-song mnemonics frustrated our enjoyment of music on the radio, and television advertisements aggravated us until we left the room for a snack.
Marketing has changed and Pinterest is one of the disruptive technologies that lets users participate actively in the marketing medium. The pinnacle of branding is no longer about wearing a logo on your clothing. It’s now about gathering and creating visual content that represents you and sharing that content with your peers.
Twitter is changing the world. Never before has information spread so quickly across the globe. The real-time microblogging service set itself apart by limiting posts to only 140 characters. This quick, easy form of communication has limited the barrier to entry for digital communications, and made quick information broadcasts available to anyone. In addition to broadcasting, Twitter has also emerged as an incredible relationship builder. Its simple interface and limited options make replying to and sharing content incredibly simple.
Social media can be a great platform for large and small businesses alike to promote their brands and cultivate an audience. If used correctly, Twitter is a powerful tool that can help grow your business. People are looking for some type of value from the people and brands they interact with online. You can use Twitter to really get to know your clients and prospects. Savvy companies are also building lists and engaging with their clients and prospects on Twitter. Staying in tune with your audience is critical to inbound marketing.
According to YouTube, more than one billion unique users visit YouTube.com and watch over six billion hours of video each month.
Of course a portion of those videos are of kittens and babies — however, people use the channel every day to search for content that helps solve their problems. Integrating video on YouTube into your inbound marketing strategy is a great opportunity to help reach your audience.
Most businesses mistakenly think that if their video is not “commercial” quality, their brands will not be represented appropriately. Oftentimes video content is perceived to be more approachable and genuine when a simple handheld camera, screencast or even an iPad is used to record solutions to your customer’s problems. We’ve seen a client (very small business) help answer common questions by using video and receive over 60,000 views for one video on their YouTube channel.