In BtoB, social selling is mainly done on LinkedIn. Here's how to succeed in your business development efforts on this professional network.
Social selling, or the art of creating business opportunities on a social network, is massively used in B2B prospecting. The professional network LinkedIn has naturally become the preferred playground for salespeople to reach decision-makers. A look at the characteristics of social selling and the conditions for implementing this strategy on LinkedIn
The field of B2B commercial relations has been profoundly modified by the digitalisation of the customer journey. Information gathering, price comparisons and product characteristics are carried out in complete autonomy. Although the sales function seems to be fading at this stage, the salesperson can still play a role, provided that he or she adapts his or her method to the new requirements of digital platforms. It is a question of implementing a more refined, more targeted strategy, adapted to different profiles. Social networks have gradually emerged as a privileged channel for identifying and reaching a specific audience. The emergence of social selling can be observed in all sectors and also concerns B2B sales, which particularly mobilise professional social networks such as LinkedIn.
Social selling is a commercial prospecting approach that takes advantage of the functionalities offered by social networks at each stage of the sales cycle. Companies were quick to recognise the potential of contact bases, which were transformed into real sales forces. Social networks, becoming a field of prospecting in their own right, quickly proposed specific tools dedicated to the search, selection and personalised contact with potential customers. Social selling is now an essential strategy for developing a company's activities, building its brand image and converting prospects. The aim is to position yourself effectively and naturally in the buyer's decision-making process. Consumers, especially B2B buyers, form their own opinions on the basis of information available online and interactions on social networks are part of this.
In BtoB, the social selling strategy is mainly based on LinkedIn, the leading online professional social network with 800 million registered members in 200 countries. Among these members, the number of active users varies according to estimates, ranging from 150 million to 400 million. In France, the number of monthly active users is around 10 million and over 800 companies are present on the platform. Among BtoB decision-makers, LinkedIn is the most used social network and the one most likely to lead to a purchase. The content posted on the social network is therefore a powerful conversion lever.
To create new opportunities on LinkedIn, the salesperson must work on the different aspects of his or her social selling strategy.
A resume that highlights the sales qualities and performance of a salesperson is no longer as relevant when it comes to convincing a prospect. The potential buyer will be more sensitive to the expertise of the person they are talking to. It is a transition from a sales profile to an expert profile. This includes a professional photo and a neat presentation that summarises the skills and know-how you have acquired in your field.
Building an expert profile also involves sharing relevant information and publishing qualitative content that reinforces the salesperson's credibility with prospects. And to strengthen their audience, the salesperson must expand his or her network by paying attention to the relevance of new contacts. These correspond essentially to the personas previously defined as the core target. The collected leads can be added to the company's CRM database. Many users give their email address to their LinkedIn contacts.
It's about committing to your own content but also about interacting with your prospects' publications. Here again, the salesperson adopts the posture of an expert and not a salesperson. It provides background information and raises questions that can capture the attention of its audience. A way of building trust that may lead the prospect to contact you for further information.
To analyse the performance of these different levers, the salesperson can monitor several indicators, such as the number of prospects added to the CRM, the rate of return on prospecting efforts, the new opportunities effectively brought by the network, the number of contracts signed on the basis of these opportunities and the turnover generated by these actions.
The Social Selling Index is a tool created by LinkedIn to evaluate the effectiveness of the sales approach on the network. The index reflects the ability of a profile to create new opportunities and to carry the company's image.
Each of these users is given a score. A high index indicates a high potential for influence. And to get close to the top score, the salesperson must work on 4 axes:
Monitoring your score allows you to track your own progress and to see where you stand in relation to the competition and other players operating in the sector.