While social media is quite possibly one of the most often used marketing tools, it is also often overlooked as a sales tool, especially for the channel. Even if your marketing practices are sound, consumers are likely to turn to social media to do their final research before choosing a company to work with, and your team and your channel team, needs to be present, engaged and responsive on social media to ensure your company stays top of mind.
So what is social selling? Social selling is the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process. It is not just about starting the sales process using social platforms, but it is about sales people building a strong personal brand, and understanding the role of content and how it can be used to tell an emotional and powerful story. By utilizing social selling internally and with your channel teams, you are turning your business into a social business, transforming your operations from an inward focus to a customer focus.
The number one goal for your content marketing efforts should be to establish dominancy as experts and thought leaders in your field, but you're not the only ones out there. Sharing your content, opinions, and voices through social media is no longer an option. It is necessary to stay relevant…no questions. But sharing content from other leaders in the field will display a more well rounded opinion, and show prospective clients that you're staying on top of the latest industry news and educating the community through content sharing.
The second goal to be truly successful in social selling, both internal and channel sales teams, need to build a strong personal brand. This starts with putting an official end to the self-promotional content being posted on the web. Social selling is about helping others through their decision making process and growing strong social connections to continue to grow and scale your social selling program over time.
Let’s discuss the top 3 social platforms. There are many more platforms, but these are the top 3 your channel teams should start with, and from there, they can start to utilize different platforms based on their overall goals with social selling and your target audience.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn has morphed from a simple, professionals-only social media channel, to a savvy sellers dream scenario. You may already be using LinkedIn to claim your stake as the expert in your field, but are your channel sales teams using it to sell? First and foremost, your channel sales teams should all have a LinkedIn account. The focus for LinkedIn should be relationship building, and making sure your employees and your channel sales teams are maintaining updated, accurate information, making their LinkedIn presence and activity a catalyst for attracting potential business leads. From there, they should be actively using LinkedIn as a way to promote content in order to build their own thought leadership and connect with their prospects and customers.
Facebook: Is Facebook still primarily a B2C tool? We get this question quite a bit. The short answer is yes, but…that is changing. As you can probably see, the line is being blurred between B2C and B2B on Facebook because more and more people are starting to connect with their colleagues, partners and customers on Facebook. By connecting on Facebook, it gives people a more personal connection, and that is critical in the sales process. Your channel sales teams shouldn’t steer away from sharing content on Facebook, as building that personal and professional brand on that platform is becoming increasingly important, and will put them well ahead of their competition.
Twitter: Twitter is absolutely essential for your channel teams to implement. A business Twitter account is necessary, but so are individual accounts. Individual accounts, similar to LinkedIn and Facebook, allow your individual channel sales reps to build their own personal brands on Twitter. Utilizing Twitter is not just a place to share your content, but a fantastic platform to share other people’s content through in just a few simple clicks. This allows your channel sales teams to build virtual relationships with other Twitter users, and over time, that network becomes more and more powerful and increases the awareness and reach of your content.
By providing your approved content to your channel teams to share, you enable them to share your content, which builds their personal brand and exponentially increases the reach of your content. Even if you only have 10 channel sales reps sharing your blogs, think of how many people that could reach! This approach will not only solidify your team's expertise in the industry, but it will enable a platform for more discussion on social media, giving your channel teams even more of an opportunity to interact with others.
As your channel sales team becomes more active on the various social networks, they will become thought leaders and experts to those individuals and companies seeking your products and services. This is a win-win situation for your company, your channel teams, and your relationships with your current and potential customers.