b2b social selling lead generation

Social Selling: The 4-Step Guide To B2B Social Lead Generation

17 December 2020

Social selling: Is it a B2B buzzword or a certified sales strategy? 

Social sales is currently a trending term among salespeople. But, if you’re like me and you:

(1) Place trust in time-tested strategies over viral, temporary tactics.

(2) Have to tie sales strategies and tactics to real results — like revenue numbers and deals won — you’re probably wondering...

How does social selling work, exactly, and does it apply to B2B sales? 

The short answer: Yes. 

According to research from LinkedIn, 78 percent of social sellers outsell their peers. They’re also far more likely to find sales opportunities and hit quota.  

Social selling works.

b2b social selling buyer journey

Executed the right way, it helps develop two key elements of the B2B sales cycle: Relationships and credibility. 

After reading this guide, you'll know why to use social selling and how to apply it to your sales strategies

Note: Ready to start social selling for your B2B business? See which companies are already visiting your website to turn those social leads from cold to hot. Sign up for Leadfeeder’s free 14-day free trial.

What is social selling for B2B businesses? 

Social selling for B2B businesses means using social media to generate leads and feed your sales funnel.

This doesn’t mean pasting cold email templates into LinkedIn and blasting them out to contacts. That resembles spammy selling, which drops your chances of closing to zero. 

Leaning on the softer side of the sales spectrum, it differs from traditional sales tactics because there's less stress placed on an immediate response. 

Instead, individual sales reps play the “long-game” and focus on building connections over time.

Through social media, reps cultivate long-term relationships, convey authority and credibility, and appear on decision-makers’ radars to encourage “organic” sales. 

Why is social selling important for B2B sales teams?

For B2B sales teams facing stiff competition, social selling is becoming an important part of lead generation. As Dipak Vadera, our Sales Manager, explained to me: 

There is nothing more powerful than connecting with your prospects at their exact pain point and time of need — social selling makes this special connection a reality,” 

“Using Leadfeeder we can connect with the right people at the right time, helping increase our outbound effectiveness as well as decreasing the time needed to convert a lead to a customer. It allows you to find the right person in the organization to connect with and lead them down the right path for their needs.” 

What I learned from Dipak was that: Social selling warms up smart, sophisticated buyers who are selective about who they do business with. 

Combined with the right sales tools, like Leadfeeder, it allows reps to connect with buyers they know are searching for a solution.

If you’re still skeptical about social selling, there are three key reasons why you should accept it as part of your sales strategy: 

1. Social selling is a time-tested lead generator

Lead nurturing, soft-selling, warm outreach; unless you’re living under a rock, these sales tactics sound familiar. 

While the exact wording and popularity of each term fluctuate, they’ll always remain relevant. 

This is because they represent two parts of a sales strategy that are often overlooked: building relationships and earning trust.

With longer sales cycles and multiple decision-makers, these two things play a bigger role in B2B sales than ever before. 

Social selling respects this need for multiple touchpoints and cultivating relationships. And for that reason, it’s a tactic that stands the test of time. 

2. Social selling is effective at targeting high-value accounts. 

99 percent of B2B marketers rank account-based sales (ABS) and marketing as an apex sales strategy. 

However, an ABS approach can be an expensive and extensive undertaking, especially for smaller sales teams. Luckily, there’s an effective alternative: Social selling

I’ve witnessed this first-hand at Leadfeeder, and so have our customers, Like Metadata, for example. 

Using Leadfeeder, they cranked up the dial on their social sales. This helped marketing and sales collaborate to create mini-ABS campaigns that generated leads. 

Director of growth, Logan Neveau, set up custom feeds with appropriate filters in Leadfeeder to track visits from high-value accounts.

b2b social selling abs campaign

The big value with Leadfeeder, is understanding which targeted accounts have come to our website and what pages they’ve looked at before we’ve even begun an engagement with them.

Based on the account’s on-site activity, they gauged the level of engagement and validated the account by “gut-checking” it against their ideal client profile (ICP). 

After being qualified, the lead was “open” to the entire team. Then, team members connected with the account were able to initiate conversation or introduce a connection. 

We send the email alert to the entire sales, marketing and senior leadership team. If someone sees a logo they have a connection with, we have a better chance of securing a meeting and winning the deal

Not bad for a nimble sales team, right? 

In a way, social selling is like a bite-sized version of ABS (I like the term “baby ABS”) by design. 

  • You’re still proactively researching and reaching out to leads. 

  • You’re still developing connections with multiple decision-makers. 

  • And you’re still sacrificing short-term sales for higher quality deals and fruitful relationships.

But the only difference is, all the above happens on a slightly smaller scale and on a social platform. 

3. It lets you leverage the expertise of your salespeople and their network

Personalized content is king, and social selling is the perfect medium for delivery. 

For example, this post by Adam Goyette received over 700 comments and rewarded him with high-quality traffic to his website.

b2b social selling personalized content

Eventually, requests for the content Adam produced were so popular that he had to “un-gate” his content and leave a public link. 

Once you understand the problems plaguing your audience, social selling has the potential for exponential reach and virality that attracts inbound leads. 

The awesome thing is: Each and every salesperson has the potential to make this happen. 

4 B2B social selling steps to skyrocket lead generation in 2020 

In theory, social selling is simple: 

You develop connections over the long-term with prospects who at some point, will need the solution you’re selling.

Echoing the insights by Sue Duris, Director of Marketing at M4 Communications

Being in the right place at the right time might seem like a cliché, but it’s so very key in social selling. The most important thing about social selling is in the monitoring of those conversations on social with empathy and authenticity so you know the right times to engage and help.

But, how do you not only monitor conversations, but respond in an authentic way that delivers value, builds trust, and generates sales? 

Start with the steps below. 

A quick note: Social selling isn’t exclusive to one specific platform. However, LinkedIn is a prospecting powerhouse and the social network of choice for B2B sales reps. 

Therefore, it’s the platform that I focus on in this post. These tips transfer to social selling on any platform. 

1. Attract leads with your LinkedIn profile

Success on Linkedin (or any other social media channel) begins with reflecting credibility through your personal brand. 

When a prospect views your profile, they’re making snap-second decisions about how trustworthy you are and your ability to meet their potential needs. 

Even if you consider your profile 100% optimized, it’s a good idea to do a once-over and ask yourself: 

Does my profile speak to prospects that I’m selling to? 

Then, insert experiences and facts that encourage leads to learn more about you. 

Since you’re familiar with our Sales Manager, Dipak, let’s use his LinkedIn profile as an example: 

b2b social selling linkedin profile

Look at that smile, go get em Dipak ;)

Dipak could have just got away with “I help B2B companies with prospecting”. Instead, he piques interest by:

  • Featuring his mission to “make prospecting great again” 

  • Telling you he’s an international speaker

  • Inviting you to interact with him

If you’re looking for advice on B2B sales, managing a sales team, or content related to sales, Dipak looks like a useful individual to know, doesn’t he? 

( I can confirm he is!)

2. Identify and follow warm leads for social outreach

b2b social selling social outreach

Eating challenges for breakfast is my tagline, and I love it. Ever since applying this approach to my tasks I can go “straight for the kill” on the biggest obstacles on any given day.

Unfortunately, you don’t have the same luxury with social selling. 

You can't “just do it”. It’s a process. 

People are busy, and it takes multiple meaningful interactions to get noticed. 

3. Research and listen to existing conversations

If you’re already connected via a first or second-level connection, you can glean insights to shape future interactions. Start by visiting their profile and clicking “See all activity.

b2b social selling insights

This will reveal what they are interested in, what they talk about, and who they talk to. When you’re at this stage: 

  • Learn what their challenges are. Do they ask similar questions to similar people?

  • Find common ground. Do you share a common employer, connection, or hobby? 

  • Pay attention to what they share. This reveals the content they value, and who they admire.

  • Participate in LinkedIn groups where leads are active. (This helped consultant, Lori Carr, add $1.45M worth of deals to her pipeline) 

  • Identify posts they regularly comment on. This shows who they admire and what their concerns are.

 4. Build relationships by engaging (the right way) 

Once there’s an opening for conversation, engaging leads is the final, recurring step in the cycle. To engage leads without being creepy: 

  • Review your social selling score index (SSI)

  • Pose quick round-up or authoritative opinion questions. This lets you create compelling content and gets you noticed by high-value connections.

  • Congratulate a new milestone or accomplishment.

  • Share something you learned from a connection, be sure to tag and thank them.

  • Add thoughtful comments tailored to the conversation. 

Your prospects want to connect with authorities and credible professionals. And they’re willing to engage at earlier stages in the sales process.

Use this to your advantage by taking the leap to publish valuable content. This is a proven way to reach targeted leads on LinkedIn. 

Thanks to personalized content, software company Templafy, experienced massive gains from social selling. 

After delivering niche content to their LinkedIn audience, cost per lead dropped by 55 percent and LinkedIn lead gen ROI reached 475 percent. 

Social selling is a savvy sales tactic: Ignore at your own risk

Social selling works in B2B sales because it is rooted in authentic sales principles: building relationships and trust. However, it’s a relatively nuanced process that takes time.  

Social selling is a connection-driven marathon, rather than a sprint to the final sale. 

Once you’ve established key relationships and built trust, you unlock the doors to bigger deals, shorter sales cycles, and ongoing referrals and sales.

Note: Ready to start social selling for your B2B business? See what companies are already visiting your website to turn those social leads from cold to hot. Sign up for Leadfeeder’s free 14-day free trial.

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