Social Selling: A Modern B2B Imperative

August 22, 2023

We know that people buy from people they like, respect and trust. That’s actually what motivates us to do what we do. It’s also why we invest most of our time prospecting, networking and developing relationships with customer partners and potential customers. It’s what we’ve always done. And while the techniques have advanced over the years, this fundamental guiding principle has withstood the test of time.Social Selling

I don’t really like the term “salespeople” because in our philosophy we don’t “sell.” We are technology experts who work, network and use social media to make connections with business owners and production managers to help them decide if our solutions are a right fit. We strive to earn the right to present our technology and find out together if a partnership will solve problems. We not only want to help our customers achieve a timely ROI; we genuinely want to help them make their business more profitable.

So, what has changed?

Traditional approaches like cold-calling, prospecting email blasts and loosely targeted mailings are becoming less efficient. We’ve learned that if you keep “spraying and praying,” you’ll also keep “paying” with diminishing returns in pipeline velocity. Buyers’ independence, along with their preferences, habits and expectations have evolved, and digital personalization is now table stakes in our industry. We all know that one-to-one marketing is most effective.

Social media is the fastest growing channel for connecting with business executives. It is highly effective at identifying and building relationships with target prospects than with traditional sales techniques alone. A digital-first buying posture is becoming the norm. In fact, Gartner expects that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025.

While all of your efforts may not be on social selling, it is worth considering adding it to your prospecting arsenal, and as the top professional social networking platform, LinkedIn is the place to be. According to LinkedIn’s 2022 State of Sale report, top performing salespeople (sellers who reached 150+% of quota) were more than twice as likely (53%) to have expanded their LinkedIn network in the past year compared with their average peers (25%). And 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.

What is social selling?

Social selling is the strategic process of cultivating meaningful relationships via social media to drive revenue for your business. This lead generation process includes understanding your ideal customer profile (ICP/buyer personas), researching, expanding your network and directly connecting with potential buyers to build trust and credibility through social interactions. Its basic tenet is that if you focus first on developing meaningful, trusting relationships with potential customers, your efforts will naturally and ultimately lead to more sales. Help first. Sell later. Sound familiar?

Know your buyers

People with problems that your business can’t solve are not your tribe. So, before you start making connections, scan your existing connections for people who match your ICP. Look for who they know, what they’re saying and sharing, groups they belong to and hashtags they follow to understand their needs, pain points and interests.

After optimizing your profile and doing your research on keywords/phrases, topics and trends through social listening and monitoring, focus on expanding your network with key decision-makers and buying committee members and influencers.

Engage authentically

Then become an engaging go-giver and problem-fixer by directly providing exactly what your prospects are looking for (education, insights, resources, validation, others’ posts, your posts and connections from your network, etc.) when they’re looking for it. Trust is the most valued currency in social selling, and this is how you build it.

Important LinkedIn engagement tips and stats to keep in mind:

  • Make Sales Navigator (SalesNav) your BFF. Its Advanced Search feature is where you’ll find prospecting magic.
  • Track your Social Selling Index (SSI). Your score is based on maximizing everything covered in this article.
  • Use InMails to your advantage. Hyper-personalized, shorter InMails (less than 400 characters) get better response rates (22% higher than average). Avoid sending them on Fridays and over the weekend where the below average response rates are 4% and 8% respectively.
  • Use hashtags wisely. Don’t use more than five to avoid the wrath of LinkedIn’s algorithm.
  • Referrals are platinum. More than 75% of B2B buyers prefer to use recommendations from their professional network. Even mentioning the mutual connection increases the likelihood of an appointment by 70%. Because of the credibility you’ve established, your connection may naturally connect you with folks in their network who might also benefit from your wisdom and expertise. If not, remember the rule of reciprocity and kindly ask.

Aim well to social sell, and hit your marks

Social selling is a powerful new arrow in our digital lead generation quiver that enables us to do two of our most favorite things with even greater precision: helping targeted potential buyers solve their most pressing problems and winning new business – with insights, solutions and outcomes that surpass their expectations. It doesn’t get better than that.

Barbara Stainbrook
National Vice President, Industrial & Production Print

As National Vice President, Industrial & Production Print, Barbara Stainbrook is responsible for business development for Konica Minolta’s Industrial Print products including inkjet, embellishment and label solutions for all North American channels. Her 33-year career with the company also includes serving as Vice President, Production Print for Konica Minolta’s Direct Channel for ten years. In 2013, she was awarded the Global Distinguished Woman in Printing Award by Output Links, and served on the board of the Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation (EDSF) until 2017. Barbara has a son, John, who is studying pre-med and in her very rare free time she loves to cook.