Social Selling as Part of Your Overall Sales Strategy
You can’t think about social selling in a vacuum. You need to think about how social selling fits into your overall sales strategy.
How can social sales complement your existing practices? In what ways will social selling help you deliver relevant customer experiences across all channels that buyers use?
Let’s take a look at some of the key items you need to consider as you work social selling into your sales playbook.
SDRs vs. Account Executives
To take a strategic approach to social selling, you need to think about the roles and responsibilities of your team. For the sake of illustration, let’s look at a common division on today’s sales teams – sales development reps vs. account executives.
When doing outbound social selling, who’s responsible for researching companies on social media – the account exec, the SDR, or both?
Who’s responsible for connecting with people at the target company on LinkedIn – the account exec, the SDR, or both? Should the SDR initiate the relationship and then introduce the account exec? Or should the account exec initiate the relationship because he or she will maintain the relationship over time?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to those questions. But your answers do need to fit with your overall sales strategy. Taking the time to think through roles and responsibilities will save you confusion in the long-run.
Marketing vs. Sales Communications
You need to coordinate your social selling strategy with your marketing strategy. How often your salespeople personally reach out to buyers needs to be reconciled with how often your marketing team reaches out to them en masse. Too many touches can annoy buyers. Too few touches can leave them asking, “Who are you again?”
Social sellers are tempted to copy the updates that social media marketers write for the company on social media. But there should be a difference between how marketers communicate and sellers communicate.
Marketers want to reach hundreds, if not thousands, of people at one time. Sellers, on the other hand, want to build one-on-one relationships on social media. Therefore, the task of a social seller is to make his or her social updates feel personal and intimate. This might mean tagging a person in a tweet or a LinkedIn update, like this one:
Personal, human-to-human communications is not something that your social media marketing can do at scale.
Timing of Social Interactions
Many sales teams have a prescriptive playbook in place. This playbook is dictates how often sales reps should reach out to buyers. and it is predicated on the length of your sales cycle.
Most sales playbooks focus solely on phone and email touches, but you should weave social touches into your playbooks, as well. In the following example, let’s assume that a prospect downloads a white paper from your web site. If your buying cycle is two months, your communication cadence might look something like this:
Day 1: As soon as the white paper is downloaded, marketing automation sends a personalized thank you note on behalf of the rep.
Day 2: Consult marketing automation platform to see the lead source – whether the lead found the site via social media. (This is indicative of whether the prospect uses social media.)
Sales rep researches the prospect and the prospect’s company on LinkedIn and Twitter. Research the prospect invisibly on LinkedIn. (To learn how to make yourself invisible on LinkedIn, check out tip number four in this blog post.)
Day 5: Sales rep follows up with a personal introductory e-mail and follows the prospect on Twitter.
Day 15: E-mail offering new content related to the first download, and sales rep looks at the prospect’s LinkedIn profile while “visible.”
To learn how to make yourself visible on LinkedIn, check out tip number five in this blog post.
Day 16: If the prospects responds to the e-mail or if the prospect looks at the rep’s LinkedIn profile, send a LinkedIn connection request.
Daily: Follow the 4-1-1 rule and post new content to LinkedIn and Twitter. That way, prospects who use social continue to be educated, and the seller stays top of mind.
Day 25: Share a piece of content on LinkedIn or Twitter and tag the prospect in the post. Make sure that the content is relevant to the person’s interests.
Day 45: Personal e-mail from the sales rep offering a product demo
Note: Be sure to test this and iterate this over time to determine the right number and types of touches.
You might be scratching your head, wondering what a sales calendar is. Regardless of the month, Monday is for closing; Tuesday is for closing; Wednesday is for closing; Thursday is for closing; and Friday is for closing. Right?
Well, there’s more to selling than closing. For example, let’s assume that several sales team members will travel to Boston for a conference in May. Leading up to the conference, your sales reps may want to let their social networks know that they will be at the conference. Who knows? Perhaps their followers will be at the conference.
Additionally, they may want to schedule face-to-face meetings with prospects who reside in the Boston area, but will not be at the conference. These prospects might come from their CRM, or they might be the result of outbound outreach.
(We’ve discussed how to use LinkedIn and Twitter to find prospects in a specific geographic area. You can read about it here.)
When creating your social selling program, do not think about social sales in isolation. Think about how social selling fits into your larger sales communication strategy. Make sure that it jibes with your communications cadence, your team’s established roles, your calendar, and your company’s marketing efforts.
When you take a more holistic view of social selling, you’ll set your sales team up for success.
Launching Your Social Selling Program
Want more tips for launching your social selling program? Check out our social selling workbook.