Social Selling Guide: Tips and Tricks to Opening Conversations Online
There’s much talk about social selling tactics these days, and although it’s not a new concept, the past two years it’s become somewhat of a buzzword. But how do great sales reps leverage social media to sell and reach audience they wouldn’t otherwise? Larry Levine, sales expert and founder of the Social Sales Academy, gave us a social selling guide on the Playmakers podcast: “The Who, The What, and the Why of Social Selling w/Larry Levine.”
Social selling is a process where sales representatives leverage their social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately, achieve sales goals. Social media use in sales has become common practice, and the data shows it’s producing positive results for sales teams around the world.
If you’re not sold yet on the value of social media selling, here’s a few surprising social selling statistics from Hubspot:
- Social sellers report an increase in company’s revenue versus non-social sellers
- 61% of organizations who engaged in social selling reported a positive impact on revenue growth;
- Buyers who use social media have larger budgets than those who do not use social media (84% larger).
How Social Selling was Born
Improved revenue growth is surely an incredible result, but how did we come to use the social network as a sales technique? For Larry Levine, a sales representative with over 28 years experience, it was a natural evolution brought about by the rise of the Internet.
“My ‘ah-ha’ moment was about ten years ago. I really started to see the shift when I was trying to get in touch with people. People are hiding behind their voice mail, people are hiding behind email, and I really couldn’t get to anybody anymore,” said Larry, on the XANT podcast.
Sales has a branding problem, says Larry, who adds that all salespeople need to work on solving this issue – and that social media is the answer.
“Sales has a big branding problem. But I think sales reps all have a story. I just figured out ten years ago how to tell my story genuinely and authentically online,” adds Larry. Sales representatives need to apply sales techniques like prospecting on the phone and face-to-face. They can build on these when working on their online identities.
“If I look good online then it is just another form of opening up conversations,” he adds.
Why Going Social Doesn’t Mean You Need to Forget about your Sales Quota
Social media should not derail sales representatives from their quota, adds Larry. The social network is just another tool that you can use to build more pipeline and increase your chances of reaching sales goals.
“Social has a place [in a sales reps toolbox]. I think the most important thing is we just have to get better at the role of sales representative. We try and dabble in all these aspects. […] If you don’t have the core foundation of sales down, is social selling really going to help you? I think it will hinder you,” adds Larry Levine.
Why Cold Calling Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Different
Sales representatives can still use a myriad of media to reach prospects and work towards their quotas, says Larry. Cold calling, using voicemail, texts, email and even meetings are all good ways to reach customers. And they all have their place in an optimal sales strategy and cadence.
““Not a day that goes by that sales reps or sales managers or business owners don’t read: ‘cold calling is dead’. ‘This or that is dead.’ Sales reps have hypnotized themselves into believing what they’re not doing doesn’t work,” says Larry.
Social is just another tool that you have in your tool bag, says Larry Levine. “If you aren’t using those standard sales tools very effectively, do you think social is going help? We need to learn how to use all of them together. Traditional sales and modern sales tool need to work together,” added Larry Levine.
Why Salespeople Need to Become Better at Marketing and Content
The trend of having sales representatives use social media and content to try and reach prospects is a natural step, shows Larry. Much of the buyer’s journey now takes place online, and almost half of buyers consume three to five piece of content online before making a purchase, according to Forrester research.
“Sales reps need to become better marketers, and all of the same marketers need to become better at selling, and it’s how we all work together at this. I grew up in a world where I didn’t have the benefit of a marketing department. I had to become my own marketer. So, I got really good at it because I had to survive,” says Larry.
And as to whether salespeople can become marketers, Larry is convinced it’s possible. “Sales reps can drive content, sales reps can write. We can, we do it on a daily basis,” he adds.
Social Selling on LinkedIn, In Three Easy Steps
Larry Levine, founder of the Social Sales Academy, also offered some social selling tips to listeners of the Playmakers podcast. He described his three-step system for creating a brand, increasing your network and then leveraging this network for referrals.
1.Build a Brand
Larry advises using LinkedIn as a prime social network when using this sales tactic. It is the largest social network with up-to-date professional information and can be used as a platform for telling your story.
“We all have a brand, we all have a story to tell, it’s how well we tell it. The first thing is sales rep have to leverage LinkedIn for one simple thing. Use it as a platform to share your story, and articulate your value proposition,” says Larry.
- Build a Network
The LinkedIn strategic network will help you get better acquainted with current clients and their own professional networks, shows Larry.
“I build really strong relationships inside my current client base,” added Larry.
- Ask for Referrals
The third step is asking for referrals from your customers. You can ask each and every happy customer to introduce you to people of interest in their networks, added Larry Levine.
“Online, I built that same relationship [as with face-to-face sales], so it was building a brand. I was connecting to my current clients, having my current clients edify me. Then all I did is I asked my current clients to refer me. The minute you sell something to somebody, you ask for three referral,” concluded Larry.
Social Selling Helps Build a Network and Reach Your Quota
The simple system for networking and acquiring referrals leverages simple selling techniques that are bound to be successful, says Larry.
“Sales reps need to quit acting as sales reps and just act as a normal human being and watch what happens. I went from zero to 1.3 million in new sales leveraging social and the power of opening up conversations,” concluded Larry.
Watch the entire Playmakers podcast to learn more about:
- Why social selling often does or doesn’t work – social selling best practices
- What tactics sales reps are utilizing to win using social
- What is the difference between social and digital and how can reps navigate the change