We all know that the internet and social networks change the flow of sales as the buyers now have access to more data and do more for themselves.
90% of purchasing decisions for customers start online, while 75% of B2B buyers use social media to look for suppliers. As a result, sales and marketing teams need to think and behave differently to connect with and influence prospects.
In an approach known as social selling, a significant part of this is by providing helpful online content and knowledge, building trust and reputation, as well identifying and interacting with potential customers through social networks.
How does content fit into the social selling process?
Content is one of the most important instruments in the arsenal of sales professionals when it comes to selling online. After all, 67% of top-performing sales organizations support their content-based sales supporting activities, while 65% of customers say it has impacted their final buying decision.
This implies that organizations need to provide buyers and prospects with timely, targeted and relevant information. This can include blogs, guides/eBooks, infographics and videos to share and evaluate the response through social networks.
Curation + Creation = Social Selling
However, the creation of content is not the only way to engage and influence a prospect. While content curation plays a significant role in how professional a seller is, sharing content from trusted channels is important as well. This is because a seller that can offer feedback or solutions to issues to customers will establish trust with a prospect that will go a long way down the line to close a deal.
How to Curate Content?
- Ask Why: What is the goal of curation for you as a sales professional? Are you focused on a specific market or set of clients? What do they need?
- Identify Target Audience: Be clear about the clients and prospects you are going to target with your curated content
- Set up a Baseline: Look at the type of content your target audience regularly like, share and recommend on social networks (primarily linkedIn). This will give you insights into the type of content that is likely to engage them through your curation and social sharing. Tools like BuzzSumo can help you analyse this.
- Research: Find relevant content on the topics and sources that will engage your audience. Quora, Google Searches and LinkedIn can support this, as well as specialist curation tools like Anders Pink.
- Automate: You don’t have time to look for new content from multiple sites and sources every day. Use tools to automate this for you, for example serve you and your team with the latest content about fintech but only if it mentions pharma and only if it’s from the top 500 business sites. Setting rules and filters like this will save you a lot of time (tools like Anders Pink, Curata and others can support this).
- Add Value: Curation is not just about passing on a link in social. Add your personal insights. Why is this relevant, why are you sharing it, what is your take on it? This will bring more of your personality to the social selling process.
- Share: Social selling is powered by sharing relevant content - created or curated - on social. Target the right networks, groups and audiences and always personalize your share for specific clients and audiences.
- Build a Community: It takes time to build a brand and reputation on social networks. It’s achieved one useful insight at a time. So put in the time, engage with your audience, answer their questions promptly and build a routine.
- Share Daily: Social selling is about building a routine to stay top of mind for your audience. You can use scheduling tools to support this, but better if you can make the time to personalize this - it’s a key part of your social selling activities.
- Get Feedback and Refine: Ask your network - did they find this content useful? What would they like to see more of in the future? Don’t just broadcast - social selling is about building a conversation with prospects.
The most effective types of content will depend on your audience, your sector and where you are sharing it, but some to consider are:
- Stats and facts
- Research reports
- Relevant news stories
The selling process is evolving. Always remember to provide value to your existing and potential customers by working closely with your marketing team to build a content strategy that will help your customers and prospects with the issues they care about, create and curate content to support them.