How to Prepare for a Global Social Selling Strategy
Social media is a great way to connect with your buyers and have two-way conversations with them. But have you noticed something? Much of the social selling advice is written about social selling in a North American context, when there are plenty of opportunities for social selling in other parts of the world.
So, how do you create a social selling strategy for a global sales team? What does a global social selling program look like? Unsure how to proceed? Let’s take a look at some of the steps needed to traverse geographic and linguistic borders with your sales team.
1. Define Your Target Markets
Before you launch a social selling program, you should define your target markets. You’ll need to ask yourself questions like:
- Where do the majority of our customers live?
- Where do the majority of our sales reps live?
- In what parts of the world are our sales reps already using social networks to engage buyers?
- Is there an opportunity for our product to expand into other regions of the world?
- Are we getting leads from other parts of the world?
And after asking yourself all those questions, you have one final question to ask: Which countries should we focus on?
Quick Tip: If your company is new to social selling, you may want to start your program with one region or country. It’s often easier to start small and then expand to other parts of the world.
2. Identify Local Experts
Once you’ve settled on your target markets, you’ll want to identify local subject matter experts. These people will be able to advise you on topics like:
- Your customers’ buying behavior
- Cultural and linguistic differences
- Social media trends in different regions
Quick Tip: These local experts often make good content curators for your sales team. They’ll be able to sift through blog posts, infographics, and videos, identifying which pieces of content will resonate in their respective regions.
3. Choose Languages for Your Content Strategy
Every social selling program runs on content. If you choose to target markets where several languages are spoken, you’ll have a few decisions to make. For example:
- Will you use one language as your default language?
- Will you translate your original content into other languages?
- Will you curate third-party content in multiple languages for your team?
As you plan your strategy, remember that people enjoy reading in their native language. In fact, nine out of 10 European internet users like to browse in their native language. So, unless your target markets all speak the same language, it’s wise to plan on a multilingual content strategy.
But beware: While it’s tempting to rely on online tools like Google Translator, those tools will prove inadequate. They will not provide you with the nuance needed to engage your audiences in their native languages. (Take it from a former Spanish instructor. You can tell when someone used an online translator.)
4. Think through Cultural Differences
Language is only one consideration for a global content and social selling strategy. Another involves cultural differences. Once again, this is where your local experts can come in handy. They can explain cultural nuances associated with colors, holidays, superstitions, religions, sports, fiscal years, and more.
Sure, some cultural differences are common sense. You don’t want to send content about America’s Fourth of July to a British sales team. But there are more subtle things to consider, as well. For example, many cultures associate black with death, but in China, white is more commonly associated with death. In Mexico, green is a source of national pride, while green can be seen as a faux pas in Indonesia.
Heck, even seemingly innocuous phrases can be problematic. Let’s say that your sales reps want to share a piece of content that says, “In October, companies lock in their budgets for the next fiscal year.” That would make sense, right? Well, it makes sense to an American audience, but in Australia, the fiscal year typically starts on July 1. Why would Australians lock in their budget in October?
5. Choose Your Social Networks for Each Market
Identify the most relevant social networks in each country that you’re targeting, and create best practices for each sales team in its respective country.
Choosing your networks should involve a combination of research, gut instinct, and conversations with customers. For example, let’s say that you are thinking about using WhatsApp in some of your target markets. You could start by doing research on where WhatsApp is popular. Here’s a chart from Statista:
Given these statistics, WhatsApp might not be the best idea in the United States, but if you’re doing business in Hong Kong, it could be a terrific idea.
That research is just the starting point. Next, you need to determine whether your customers would want to engage salespeople on WhatsApp. If you’re an experienced WhatsApp user, you might have a hunch, but you should also confirm your gut instinct by talking to customers. Ask them where they spend their time, and inquire about professional appropriateness. Under what circumstances would buyers want to interact with salespeople on WhatsApp? Under what circumstances would it be creepy? Finally, use that information to establish WhatsApp best practices with your sales team.
6. Choose Technology That Supports Global Social Selling
Technology is one of the biggest challenges that any domestic or global social selling program faces. Without an infrastructure in place, sales organizations struggle to share messaging and content with their reps, promote adoption of social, standardize best practices across the team, and measure results.
When thinking about a platform for global social selling, here are a few questions to ask:
- Does this platform integrate with a variety of social networks that our global customers can use?
- Does this platform work on both Android and iOS devices?
- Does this platform allow us to organize sales reps by geographies?
- Can we provide our sales reps with messaging and target it towards specific regions?
- Can we build a multilingual content library using this tool and segment that library according to geographies?
Are You Ready to Expand Your Social Selling Program?
Social selling may start as a regional or domestic activity, but once one team sees success with social, the rest of your sales organization will want to take part. And that will require you to think differently about your social selling program. In this post, we’ve covered a few of the key questions that you’ll have to answer as you build a global social sales program. Good luck!
Want to learn more about planning your social selling program? Check out our workbook: