When you’re engaging with buyers who expect a superior customer experience from the sales process (as most do and should), it often presents several challenges for the field sales warrior:
- How many hours a day should I invest in my sales technology stack without sacrificing customer satisfaction and engagement?
- Why has the number of solutions in my sales technology stack increased at the same rate as my customers’ higher standards?
- Is telephone and email still the best sales tools for improving the customer experience?
- Why is social selling becoming the necessary engagement strategy for generating leads, closing deals faster, and improving customer satisfaction?
I’m going to answer the last question and share with you our ten best practices for leveraging social selling to close the deal, earn the trust of your customers, and build your confidence in the field forever.
Overcoming Customer Challenges with Social Selling
I’ve worked in the field for several years, and I’ve seen my share of shifts in sales engagement and customer preference that generated endless conundrums like the ones above.
I recently spoke with a group of veteran field salespeople, and they would tell you that it used to be much harder to do any form of social selling before the exponential growth of LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Today, it’s as simple as opening a sales engagement app, viewing your daily AI-prioritized leads and customers, analyzing each contact’s business intelligence from Lead411 and social intelligence from LinkedIn, and reaching out with relevant and personalized value.
Read more about Field Sales best practices: Ultimate Guide to Field Sales
Why Social Selling?
Reaching your customers on social platforms can greatly reduce sales cycles. You may discover intelligence not found anywhere else, or you may join a conversation rather than interrupting their day.
Whether you’re on a huge platform like Twitter or a small one like Lunchclub, you can demonstrate value to prospects, leads, and customers in new ways.
Before you follow these ten steps, be sure to ask your closest contacts, the marketing department, and trade publications for the social media channels most used by your customer base.
10 Best Practices for Social Selling in Field Sales
1. Find your audience
Social media is much more than LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You can find your customers on message boards like Reddit or question-and-answer sites such as Quora. Plus there is a large supply of niche sites like Lunchclub and niche conversations can now be found on Slack.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Start off by working with the marketing department and sales management to focus on two other platforms outside of LinkedIn.
Social Selling Tip: Email your most loyal customers to find out where they’re talking business on social media, and where they’d love to see your involvement.
2. Join Conversations
Your customers are posting questions in LinkedIn groups and on Quora. They’re joining conversations on public boards like Reddit and private boards on Slack or a trade publication website.
Joining these conversations is much more than engagement and building your awareness. Finding conversations is also intelligence gathering, as it allows you to discover goals and challenges that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
Social Selling Tip: Create followup email templates for when you observe and comment on a customer’s social conversation.
3. Generate sales leads
When you start a social conversation, whether in LinkedIn Messages or on a discussion board, always be sure to share a link back to one of your lead generating landing pages.
It should never be promotional. Rather, it should offer free value for the easy price of contact information. Ebooks, white papers, or webinars are good examples.
Social Selling Tip: Work with marketing on this. Not only will it benefit them, but they can empower you with progressive profiling to centralize your information gathering in Salesforce.
4. Get past gatekeepers
While we’ve shared six tricks on getting past gatekeepers in our cold calling guide, we left out one juicy tidbit of information.
Don’t reach out just because. Call prepared with references to things that the gatekeeper rarely hears from sales people. Reference a conversation you shared on Slack, or a LinkedIn event you both attended.
Furthermore, use business intelligence from Lead411 or ZoomInfo that a gatekeeper would believe only a select few would know, such as a promotion or a merger.
Social Selling Tip: Find intelligence for high-priority contacts that you already know have a gatekeeper, and give this tip a try. And don’t forget to complement your timely outreach with urgency!
5. Demonstrate your expertise
While joining the conversation is one way to show that you’re an expert, you also need to take the initiative. Publishing articles on social platforms like LinkedIn will not only generate followers in your vertical, but it will also help prospective customers find you faster.
Plus it can also help move leads and contacts down the pipeline faster when you share the article with them, especially if it has to do with something that is top-of-mind. And if you need help finding topics to write about, reverse engineer the process by reviewing the most popular pain points of your customers.
Social Selling Tip: Share this initiative with marketing and they’ll work to promote your level of authority and expertise on the website.
6. Stand out from your competitors
When you’re deciding on which social media platforms to focus on, make sure you’re choosing ones that will help you stand out from competing sales reps.
LinkedIn is a necessity, I get that. But if there are smaller, niche platforms that have competitors with a strong presence, it’s best to choose another where they have little to zero presence. Put forth the effort to grow your following there today, and it’ll be next to impossible to persuade your customers to listen to someone else tomorrow.
Social Selling Tip: When you find a social platform that lacks a competitor presence, build a calendar for consistent engagement and invite your loyal customers to the party.
7. Ask the right questions
Here are the fundamentals. Go in with the aim to assess your customers’ needs, asking questions that identify their underlying problems. But when your customers are already guarded against such inquiries…
Turn to hypnotic sales questions that go viral. Sometimes, the best questions follow an answer to their problem.
Here’s an example. Say a customer is hinting that they’re overwhelmed with printing costs. You’d share, “I thought you’d be interested to know that [ company name ] doubled revenue by reducing printing costs by 400%. Would you like to know how?”
Social Selling Tip: Look at some of your greatest customer case studies, and see how you can reverse engineer their success into a curiosity-building question like I shared above.
8. Deliver sales presentations
Microsoft PowerPoint. You wouldn’t think that I’d be recommending a slide deck with social selling. Au contraire! If you have several slide decks sitting on your computer collecting bit dust, brush them off and consolidate them into value-based decks.
Find creative ways to present solutions to your customers’ problems without being salesy, and start adding the slide decks to SlideShare. Not only can you share links and post them on LinkedIn, but customers can also find your decks organically on SlideShare, too.
Social Selling Tip: Start a SlideShare account if you haven’t already, and ask your loyal customers to share their favorite decks.
9. Ask for the sale
If you cringed reading this headline, we don’t blame you. It’s not often a colleague suggests that you ask for a sale via social media—but they should!
Whether directly through LinkedIn Messages, or indirectly by an organic post, you can use the following strategies to encourage action:
- use a now or never approach to create urgency
- summarize everything in a video post or send a personalized Vidyard
- send or post an open-ended, bottom-of-funnel question
Social Selling Tip: If you’re a little hesitant to try this, just remember that email was the original social media twenty years ago. Be an early adopter!
10. Get referrals
Chances are, you have several happy customers who would give you and your company a four or five star review. Have all of them done so? If not, ask them. Humans are herd creatures, and buyers want social proof.
Even better, you can ask your happiest customers for referrals, or offer them an incentive to introduce you to their network.
Just be sure to remind your loyal customer base that you’re looking to start a value-based relationship with their network, and that you’re not looking for transactional deals.
Social Selling Tip: Start by reaching out to your most loyal customers, and ask them if they’d be interested in providing referrals. Also, take the initiative and also ask what they’d like in return. Reciprocity is key.
Build a Strong Social Presence
When Covid struck, many field salespeople had to pivot to a virtual and remote work experience. One filled with Zoom calls and a hybrid-inside-sales feel.
Another avenue many high-performing field sales reps took during Covid was Social Selling. They double-downed their LinkedIn Sales Navigator investment, and found opportunities where they hadn’t look pre-Covid.
Successful field salespeople commonly evolve and adapt to the changing times. Be sure not to be left behind and lead the charge!
And, if you’re looking for a mobile app that centralizes all of your contacts’ social media intelligence, be sure to start a free trial of Veloxy.