It’s a lazy Sunday.
You’re on the couch, listening to tunes, and checking social media on your smartphone. You chat with friends, read the news, discover new podcasts, like posts on Instagram, and watch videos on TikTok.
But it doesn’t end there.
Somehow you’re on a site you don’t recognize. You’ve got a loaded cart. Your credit card number and address are filled in. And you’re ready to check out with tons of goodies.
In minutes, you’ve gone from scrolling on Instagram to buying goods you didn’t know you needed (and probably don’t!).
You’re not alone, either.
- 82% of consumers have discovered a product on social media and bought it directly on their phone
- 57% of customers surveyed claim they’ve bought something while watching a live stream on a social media app (and 72% of them rate the experience highly)
- 29% of consumers buy items on social media at least once a week, (24% say it’s more than once per week)
But none of this happens by chance. It’s all down to social selling. And there’s an art to it.
So, why is social selling so effective? And what do your sales reps need to do to master the art?
Let’s take a look.
Understanding social selling
Over half of the world’s population uses social media. That’s a staggering 4.88 billion people.
Tapping into this vast, diverse, and (relatively) captive audience, presents a big opportunity for driving sales. Which explains why sales teams are swapping traditional methods for a more modern approach centered around social platforms.
And, according to the stats, it’s an approach that’s working:
- 78% of sales professionals who use social media perform better than their peers
- 61% of organizations engaged in social selling report a positive change in their revenue
- Businesses that engage in social selling are 52% more likely to reach their sales quota
- Audiences exposed to brand and acquisition messages are 6x more likely to convert
But what is about social selling that drives this success? To answer, let’s learn more about what social selling is and how it differs from traditional sales techniques.
Social selling vs traditional selling
So, how does social selling differ from traditional selling? Let’s dig deeper into both models.
In traditional sales, the salesperson has usually been the point of focus. Traditional sales techniques approach the prospect by interrupting them and explaining why they should be interested in the product. Also, the emphasis is placed on closing the sale deal right away.
A typical traditional selling journey involves prospecting to discover potential customers, focusing on cold calls, emails, or meetings, and presenting the product/service. Then sales reps must handle objections and negotiate to close the deal.
Some common traditional selling tactics are:
- Cold calling: During this sales technique, the sales rep contacts potential customers who haven’t expressed a prior interest in their product/service. Sales reps make unsolicited calls to introduce the offer, generate leads, and attempt to make a sale. The term “cold” refers to the lack of any relationship or warm-up with the potential customer before the contact.
- Information secrecy: Sales professionals safeguard sensitive or confidential data regarding sales strategies, pricing, customer information, or knowledge from competitors. By maintaining information secrecy, sales reps ensure a competitive advantage, protect valuable assets, and preserve their customer and partners’ trust.
- Scripted pitches: Most selling strategies rely on scripted pitches. Sales reps use pre-written and structured sales presentations to communicate features, benefits, and the value of their products/services to prospects. These scripts keep consistency, cover key selling points, and help the sales rep interact better with potential customers.
Of course, this technique is effective, but it is an outdated way of operating in sales. That’s because the modern customer is more informed than in the past and knows exactly what they need, how to get it, and why.
Social selling isn’t a buzzword. It’s a practical and proven technique sales teams use to discover and nurture new customers. How does it work? Targeting popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram, sales reps meet prospects on their own home ground. From there, they create meaningful connections with prospects.
Contrary to its name, social selling doesn’t actually involve much selling. Nor does it involve spamming potential customers with tweets, posts, Instastories, or messages. Instead, social selling creates brand credibility. Which, in turn, generates sales.
Compared to traditional techniques, social selling might seem like a slow process. But, in truth it’s quicker. This is because prospects already have a brand in mind when they’re ready to buy. It also bypasses many of the steps (objection, qualification, prospecting) that form part of the traditional sales cycle. And, because trust is already established, it leads to better long-term outcomes, such as reduced churn and higher retention.
So, what does it look like in action? Let’s explore the social selling tactics most sales reps use:
- Create a meaningful dialogue: Social selling sales reps participate in discussions, respond to comments, and even initiate personalized messages in view of building rapport and relationships with customers.
- Share valuable content: Social sellers must curate and create content that resonates with their target audience. They need to provide insights, solutions, or industry updates that establish them (and the brand they represent) as thought leaders and experts in their field.
- Gather insights: Using social media, social sellers research their audience’s interests, challenges, and preferences. They track brand/product/service or competitor mentions across platforms. And they discover solutions to make pitches more effective.
Note: Social selling is not to be confused with social media marketing. Social media marketing helps businesses raise brand awareness and attract potential customers, while social selling is necessary to convert prospects into active, buying customers.
How to train salespeople on social selling: 10 essential training topics
As we’ve seen, social selling has a number of different aspects to it. And to be successful, sales teams need to master a wide range of skills.
Some of these skills are essential to sales in general. Others are specific to social selling.
Here, we list 10 topics to include in a social selling training program.
1. Social selling 101
Understanding the power of social selling is key to its success. This topic should give learners an understanding of why social selling is important. And explore how it differs from traditional methods. For example, focusing on personalized interactions, active listening, and caring to provide value to customers. Also, help sales reps discover why they need to adapt to changing buyer behaviors to better connect with potential customers in a more personal, trustworthy, and meaningful way.
Training tip: Interactive workshops can be a way of delivering this training topic effectively. Through workshops (online or on-site), sales reps have the opportunity to learn the A-Zs of social selling from experts in the field, ask questions, and engage in group discussions
2. Using social media platforms
Social selling is impossible if sales professionals haven’t mastered the use of social media.
But digital literacy varies. And not all of your employees will be experts in this field. This module should address that by providing a basic level of understanding across your whole team.
Start by explaining the theory behind using social media for social selling. Show how platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok can be used to connect with customers and close better sales deals. Offer step-by-step instructions on setting up professional profiles. And then demonstrate how to optimize them to target prospects more effectively. For example, by using eye-catching content, and features like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator.
Training tip: Videos, simulations and branching scenarios work well here. Learners can watch a tutorial or ‘how to’ guide and then practice what they’ve learned in a safe, risk-free environment.
3. Building a professional online presence
Training sales reps on how to craft professional and engaging profiles on social media platforms helps them build a strong online presence.
With this in mind, this aspect of training should focus on helping them:
- Create professional and engaging profiles on social media platforms
- Post content that resonates with their target audience
- Showcase their expertise and offer solutions to customer pain points
- Foster authentic relationships and position themselves as trusted industry experts
Training tip: Offering individualized feedback and guidance, 1:1 coaching sessions are a good fit for this training topic. Nanolearning provides users with bite-sized chunks of information they access on their phones. This means they can freshen up their knowledge on the go.
4. Creating relevant content
Salespeople engaged in social selling need to know how to create meaningful interactions with prospects. Train them on identifying and addressing their audience’s pain points, with a focus on relevance and engagement. Training should cover a variety of content types, such as articles, videos, and infographics, and how salespeople can use these to convey messages, show expertise, and help build trust with potential customers. In that way, sales reps will be able to boost their social selling efforts and drive meaningful interactions with prospects.
Training tip: To boost engagement and knowledge retention, combine workshops with assessments. First, explore the theory behind content creation using workshops. Topics to cover should include: understanding target audiences, crafting compelling messages, and tailoring content. Then use assessments so salespeople can put that theory into practice. Ask them to create their own content. For example, writing articles, designing infographics, or recording short videos. And then provide feedback from trainers to refine their content creation skills.
(Pro tip: It’s easier to manage this blend of training if you use sales training software.)
5. Social media listening
Salespeople can discover customer needs, pain points, and preferences by monitoring social platforms. They can use the info to show understanding and build authentic relationships with prospects. And share custom solutions and suggestions that convert them into customers. Training in social listening should include how to recognize potential leads in conversations. And ways to convert them into sales.
Training tip: Discussion boards through the LMS encourage knowledge sharing among peers in the same field. Using them, learners can share their own approaches and challenges. And elaborate on the techniques they find most effective.
6. Relationship building
Salespeople form meaningful and fruitful connections with prospects by showing interest and empathy. Relationship building training focuses on tactics for doing this. Specific tactics could include: responding to comments, sharing content, and crafting personalized messages.
Training tip: Through job shadowing, learners can see how more seasoned colleagues connect with prospects. And pick up tricks and techniques
7. Engaging with prospects through effective communication
This training topic is a key ingredient for rocking the social selling game. Provide sales teams with training on effective communications techniques that spark and nurture conversations with prospects. At the same time, this training should cover strategies for tackling objections and ways sales reps can lead conversations toward successful sales.
Training tip: Boost negotiation, objection handling, and resilience skills using an LMS with a built-in library of ready-made courses. Look for one with a high level of interactivity too. This way, reps can learn by doing. They can use role-playing activities to practice social selling techniques. For example, ways to convert objections and “difficult” customers into sales. And apply their knowledge in simulated scenarios.
8. Leveraging social selling tools
The world of social media is vast and unwieldy. Luckily there are tools and technologies that address this. These tools can help reps manage social selling and leads more efficiently. That said, knowing what tools to use and when isn’t straightforward. Through social selling tools training, reps can learn how to get the most out of their tech stack. And discover how to integrate individual tools into their sales process.
Training tip: There are lots of video training tutorials that explain social selling tools. Use these as a basis for training. Then, offer scenario-based training so learners can practice what they’ve learned in a risk-free environment.
9. Tracking performance
You’ve provided your sales team with a complete package of social selling training. But how do they know if it’s working? To evaluate success they need to be able to interpret key social selling metrics. And use these insights to optimize their strategies. To achieve this, offer training that shows them how to analyze data. Cover key metrics such as: conversion rates, revenue, customer retention, and customer advocacy.
Training tip: Encourage friendly competition to boost learner engagement during training. With gamification schemes, learners deeply engage in training as they view their and their colleagues’ training rankings on leaderboards and receive badges or awards when they complete a course.
10. Compliance and privacy
When using social media for sales, it’s essential to address data privacy and compliance considerations. So, sales reps should receive training on maintaining ethical practices and respecting customer-sensitive data and preferences.
Training tip: Microlearning modules can do wonders for a topic like this. Compliance training is essential for social selling. But it can be complex, detailed, and dry. Bite-sized videos or cards on learners’ smartphones make it more accessible and engaging. Plus, they’re great memory refreshers.
Measuring the effectiveness of social selling
Social selling is a big investment. And it can deliver high returns. But just saying that won’t reassure stakeholders across the business. Or drive improvements. You need reports to do that.
To analyze your sales team’s performance means using reports to track key metrics such as:
- Lead generation: Monitor how many leads were generated from social selling efforts. Analyzing the quality and conversion rate of these leads helps assess how they contribute to the overall sales pipeline.
- Engagement metrics: Likes, comments, shares, and click-through rates on social media content are an excellent way to explore audience engagement and interest.
- Conversion rates: Measuring the percentage of leads generated from social media that become actual customers is essential. Then, it’s necessary to compare these findings with other sales channels to get a grasp of the effectiveness of each social media platform.
- Sales revenue: Explore the revenue that was generated from sales that resulted from social selling efforts.
- Customer feedback: Collect feedback from the customers earned from social selling efforts with surveys to gain insights on their satisfaction and engagement levels.
Organizations that invest in social selling initiatives should regularly monitor and analyze such metrics to have a clear view of the effectiveness of their social selling strategies. Plus, make better-informed data-driven decisions to optimize their approach.
Unleashing social selling superpowers
Success in sales isn’t about pushing products.
It’s all about sparking meaningful conversations and forming authentic connections. The true magic of sales lies in engaging, listening, and understanding customers’ needs.
So, organizations should embrace the power of social selling and build lasting relationships, boost sales success, and thrive in the dynamic landscape of modern business.