Definition

social selling

Contributor(s): Dennis Shiao

Social selling is a B2B and B2C social media marketing (SMM) strategy that utilizes social networking sites and applications to generate leads, sales or one-on-one relationships with consumers. Popular channels used to implement social selling are social media sites such as LinkedIn, Reddit or Twitter and messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Social selling is an effective approach to building awareness, trust and consideration over the course of the sales cycle.

Social selling focuses heavily on establishing connections between salespeople and prospects in the top and middle of the sales funnel, with the ultimate objective of securing a purchase or subscription in the future. Types of connections can range from individual online interactions to accepting follower invitations to responding to social media comments. After a connection occurs, the goal of social selling is to deepen those relationships in an ongoing, long-term process and to ideally gain an advantage over competitors when it comes time to make a purchasing decision.

Buyers are becoming harder to reach overall, but often interact with social media platforms daily, making social selling a popular strategy used by marketing and sales professionals to increase engagement. Specific social selling strategies include sharing reliable, informative and sometimes product-specific multimedia and content, establishing a specific online brand persona social media users can trust and engaging in private communications with consumers. Social media listening can also fuel social selling methods by using software tools or manual search to identify company strengths and pain points expressed through social channels.

Benefits of social selling

LinkedIn has created a Social Selling Index, which is a 0-100 range score given to companies based on their social selling strategies. A high Social Selling Index score is shown to:

  • Create deeper consumer relationships with higher levels of trust.
  • Increase the number of leads and sales opportunities.
  • Reduce the need for customers to reach out for assistance.
  • Improve likelihood of repeat interactions.
  • Replace the need for alternative lead generation strategies such as cold calling.
This was last updated in January 2019

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