Social networks have long since become established as important sales channels in B2C business. But social selling is gaining in importance also for B2B companies.

As many as 82 percent of B2B purchasing managers now use social media to inform their buying decisions. This means that suppliers must now actively involve their sales staff in the social networks.

What is social selling?

Social selling means that companies use their social media channels to interact with customers, generate leads, and build a business relationship with them. As such, social selling is not dissimilar to lead nurturing, as both strategies serve to create and maintain continuous and long-term customer relationships. Sales performance can be boosted through successful social selling.

We will show you how social selling can be employed successfully.

#1: Do research on your customer

Only one in two salespeople uses social media as a way to find out more about their own customer to begin with. Do not ignore such important resources, and make active use of LinkedIn, for example, to gather valuable data relevant to customers or the industry. Use a variety of analytical and social listening tools, such as Google Alerts, to make sure you never miss important news about your customers.

#2: Make sure that people can find you

Study the behavior of your customers on social media to gain a better understanding as to which other suppliers and services may be relevant to them, and why. You can use the information collected in this way to add appropriate keywords to your own personal profile. This will make it easier for customers to find you. When designing your profile, do not only describe your professional activities, but use the profile to highlight the added value that you can generate for your customers.

#3: Add contacts to your network

You should not contact potential customers directly through social networks, as this is generally an ineffective way of generating leads. Since you do not have a relationship with such a customer yet, you must first create a personal connection. You can achieve this by leaving regular feedback or posting comments on the posts of (potential) customers. But you yourself should also be an active contributor – share posts relevant to your business and field with your target group. This will help you identify potential leads early on.

#4: Work closely with your marketing department

You will want to showcase your expertise: publish posts related to the business of your company also on your personal profile. Work with your marketing department, which can assist you in designing and preparing appropriate content. Use a central content database to collect high-quality posts and share them, deliberately and purposefully, with sales staff.

Minsky, L. & Quesenberry, K. A. (2016). How B2B sales can benefit from social selling. Harvard Business Review.