What is social selling: a step-by-step guide to personalized marketing

Alibaba.com JULY 08, 202111 MIN READ
What is social selling: a step-by-step guide to personalized marketing

Digital marketing has become a standard in business over the past couple of years. Since most people have the internet at their fingertips, this method of marketing has proven quite effective.

One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is that it allows businesses to connect with their ideal customers on a more personal level. Social selling is a specific technique that helps sellers connect with prospects directly.

In this post, we’re going to discuss the ins and outs of social selling. We will discuss a few reasons why you should incorporate social selling in your digital marketing strategy, and a few actionable steps to get started.

To wrap things up, we will discuss B2B selling on Alibaba.com. We’ll touch upon some of the tools that make Alibaba.com so popular for building meaningful relationships with customers and growing your business.

What is social selling?

Social selling is a type of digital marketing that involves building relationships with prospects through social media messaging systems. Both B2B and B2C sales reps use this tactic.

The key to successful social selling is building and leveraging trusting relationships. Some businesses use social selling to reconnect with past clients and others use it to connect with new prospects.

It is important to note that social selling isn’t your traditional sales tactic. It almost errs more on the side of marketing. Social selling uses brand building to lay the foundation for making sales down the line.

Instead of pitching to the recipients, the idea is to spark a conversation that opens the door for a more substantial relationship. In many businesses, especially the B2B wholesaling space, relationships are everything.

Marketers can use the private messaging functionality on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Since your profile is easily accessible to each message you send, recipients can see exactly who is reaching out to them.

Social selling could be an alternative to cold calling or cold pitching. With so many spam calls coming in, cold calling may not be as effective to get to new prospects. With social selling, however, you don’t have to worry as much about hooking in the person on the other end. You simply need to start a conversation rather than pushing an overly “salesy” pitch.

5 reasons why you should consider social selling

There are many reasons why a business would consider using social selling to connect with potential customers and generate more sales.

Here are a few of the major benefits of social selling for B2B wholesalers.

1. It works

The biggest reason for social selling is that it works. It helps you to build trust and credibility with your target audience. Building a reputation as a trusted brand makes it easier to make sales.

Fostering relationships can help turn prospects into warm leads, which helps you reach your sales goals. After all, working with warm leads often streamlines the sales process. This is a plus for salespeople.

2. It’s community-focused

Many brands see great results from building an active online community. In this sense, community-building goes beyond growing a social media following.

When you build personal relationships with your followers and contacts, you can increase engagement on your social media posts. This helps to reinforce your other social media marketing efforts since consistent engagement appeals to most of the algorithms on social media platforms.

It is important to note that building a community around your professional brand takes time and consistency. Social selling is a play that is suitable for brands that are in it for the long term.

3. Your competitors are doing it

In a perfect case scenario, you’d have an edge up on your competitors. You want to have a competitive advantage that sets you apart. At the very least, you want to at least be up to speed with what other B2B suppliers are doing. Since others in your industry are using social selling, you should try your hand, too.

It may be difficult to get an insight into your direct competitors’ strategies since the action takes place through private messaging channels. However, it is worth chatting with other business owners and operators that serve a similar audience to yours to get an idea of what has worked for them.

4. Buyers are familiar and receptive

Social selling is becoming more popular, so buyers are fairly familiar with the technique. This means that people should not be surprised when your messages pop up in their inbox.

Since social selling is not as “salesy” as cold pitching or cold calling, buyers are more likely to be receptive. After all, you’re not asking them to buy anything immediately, you’re simply trying to build a relationship.

5. It’s flexible

Another perk of social selling is that it is highly flexible. Social sellers can customize their strategy to make sense of their unique offer and audience.

For example, a B2B seller like yourself may find success using a LinkedIn profile for social selling, whereas a B2C seller may have more luck on social platforms, like Twitter and Instagram.

5 steps to get started with social selling

Social selling is pretty simple, especially when broken down into five straightforward steps. Let’s take a look at how your sales can create and launch a successful social selling campaign.

1. Do your research

Before you start social selling, it is important to do your research. Aside from understanding what social selling is, you’re going to want to research how this tactic can be applied to your audience.

Aim for a thorough understanding of your ideal client and what sort of interactions they would appreciate and connect with.

2. Create a strategy

As you create your strategy, generate criteria for people to whom you are going to reach out and determine what sort of ice breakers you’ll use to get the attention of your recipients.

Generate a list of people to reach out to. These should include decision-makers at businesses that you’d like to sell to.

It is also wise to map out a specific sales strategy that you will use after you’ve warmed up the lead.

3. Optimize your profiles

Once you choose which social media networks you’d like to use in your social selling strategy, you’ll need to set up profiles. If your brand doesn’t already have profiles on your intended platform, you’ll need to create an account.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or revamping your existing accounts, you’re going to need to make sure that your profiles are optimized to connect with your ideal customers.

Set your profile picture to your logo or other branded image. Use strategically crafted copy to convey what your brand does and who it serves. Consider adding testimonials, reviews, and other content to prove your credibility.

Assume that your prospects will check out your profile once they see your message request. Give them enough materials to show that your brand is both valuable and legitimate.

4. Start messaging

Once your profiles are curated to represent your brand and you have your strategy in place, it is time to start messaging.

Depending on the size of your brand, you may opt for an automated messaging system or you’ll have a member of your team handle this task. Large operations that are simply trying to cover more ground may opt to automate this process. But if you’re looking to create more genuine relationships, having a member of your sales team chat with your prospects is a better idea.

Either way, it is a good idea to create templates for your general ice breaker message that can be quickly modified for each business that you message. This could address common interests and pain points among your target audience. Incorporate questions that call for a response that could kick-start a valuable conversation.

If you’re looking to put a more personal touch on your messages, we recommend looking into each prospect’s brand and finding something unique. Pick out something to either compliment or ask about. They will be flattered that you took the time to “get to know” them before landing in their inbox.

5. Track your results

One of the most important steps in this process is tracking your results so that you can continue to tweak your strategy for better results.

Chart what sort of language works and what doesn’t work. Also, keep track to make sure that you’re targeting the right prospects.

Tips for success in social selling

Social selling can be a valuable marketing technique when done right. Here are a few of our top social selling tips and recommendations.

Choose prospects wisely

As we discussed, you’ll want to be intentional with every message you send.

Do not message random people. Your offer is not for everyone, so don’t waste your time messaging every single account you find. Research your targets to make sure they would potentially be interested in your offer.

One major faux pas in social selling is attempting to forge relationships with somebody who does the same thing as you to pitch a product, service, or offer. This shows that you have not done your research and come across as quite lazy.

However, it is wise to form organic relationships with competitors with the context of potential collaboration in mind.

Don’t be spammy

If a prospect doesn’t respond to your message or they express they are not interested, leave them alone. Sending spam messages could tarnish your brand and cause people to report or block your profile.

Keep things tasteful, and learn how to take “no” as an answer.

Use reinforcement

Social selling should simply be one part of your digital marketing strategy. Consider using other marketing tactics in addition to social selling.

Some examples of great marketing techniques include content sharing on social networks, blog content creation, video content creation, live event hosting, and more.

Which tactics you use will depend on your individual target audience. Test out some different approaches and combinations of tactics and see what is the most effective for your brand.

No matter which approaches you use, make sure that you are posting valuable and relevant content to keep your audience engaged and attract new sales prospects.

Sell on Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com is a great platform for B2B wholesalers who are looking to start, grow, or scale their businesses. It is equipped with many professional features that support B2B trade, including demand forecasting, advertising, lead generation, intelligent analytics, and secure transactions.

The Alibaba.com platform is also great for businesses that are looking to export and reach international customers. Some of the specific features geared towards cross-border trade, including auto-translating and auto-conversions.

Ready to start selling on Alibaba.com? Create an account today and select “Seller” as your trade role. With our smart listing tools and other support, you can have your digital storefront up and running in no time.