When implemented correctly, social selling is one of the most powerful sales strategies thanks to its ability to establish authentic, mutually beneficial relationships and reach buyers in the online communities that they turn to when making decisions.
A study from the International Data Corporation found that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to support their business decisions. This includes everything from soliciting opinions from their network to developing biases in favor of sellers that they already have a casual relationship with.
The biggest challenge with social selling is that it’s time-consuming and it can take a while to generate meaningful results. Salespeople often avoid it or fail at it because they don’t have the time to do it correctly.
Luckily, a virtual assistant can drive your social selling strategy so you can focus on having engaging conversations instead of the tedious processes required to successfully implement this approach.
1) Help You Identify Target Connections
Like with any sales strategy, the first step of social selling is figuring out who you’re targeting. Social media has a lot of noise so, identifying key characteristics of the most promising connections will help your virtual assistant curate the best accounts.
The amount and strictness of your criteria will depend on how large your social networks are. The more connections you have, the stricter the criteria you can give your virtual assistant while enabling them to still source enough connections for your social selling efforts to be successful.
To get the best results, don’t limit your target connections to just prospects. Social selling can be used to establish and maintain a variety of strategic relationships including:
- Referral partners
- Recommended vendors
- Super connectors
- Event and media partners
Not only does targeting a wider audience give you more opportunities to develop meaningful relationships, it also helps you foster a more authentic social media presence.
Keep in mind that not everyone who fits your target profile is worth trying to reach out to. To maximize your time, especially if you have a large network, you should also set criteria for the types of posts you’re most interested in responding to. Popular criteria include:
- Personal/professional news (ex. Job changes, promotions, the birth of children, etc.)
- Company updates (ex. Funding rounds, acquisitions, strategic partnerships)
- Requests for advice (ex. sharing challenges or directly seeking input from their network)
- Shared articles (These are common so think about what kinds of articles you can genuinely respond too.)
Armed with information about what kinds of connections you’re seeking and what types of posts you’d like to respond to, your virtual assistant will create a list of existing and potential connections that they’ll focus your social selling efforts on.
2) Curate Posts for You to Engage With
The most time-consuming part of social selling is scanning. This is the process of going onto your social media platforms every day and identifying opportunities for interaction including:
- Posts you can comment on
- Reasons for you to reach out and message people
- Highly relevant ideas for you to post about yourself
While it generally doesn’t take long to find an idea for a relevant post, it can sometimes take upwards of an hour per platform to find high-quality posts to interact with if you have a large, active network.
If you give your virtual assistant a description of your target connections and a list of topics that you’re interested in responding to, they can tackle the scanning process for you. At the end of each day, they’ll send you a list of curated posts so that you only have to spend time on social media to engage with relevant content.
3) Track Touchpoints and Measure Results
Tracking touchpoints is easily the most overlooked part of social selling. Far too many sales executives hop on social media every day and interact with a ton of connections without ever taking a systematic look at who they’re engaging with and at what frequency.
As a result, they have no way to measure success or make data-driven improvements to their social selling strategy.
To help you stop blindly interacting on social media and hoping for results, a virtual assistant will add every social media connection who you’d like to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with to your CRM and track all of your touchpoints.
This includes monitoring reactions to your posts so you don’t miss out on opportunities to your posts because you miss a notification and take a week to respond to someone who you haven’t established a steady dialogue with yet.
This tracking approach will help you achieve better results via three key activities:
- They’ll prioritize sending you content from key connections who you haven’t engaged with for a long time. The cadence will vary depending on the type of relationship you have. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate, they’ll default to helping you reach out about once a quarter.
- They’ll ensure you’re interacting with an optimal mix of connections instead of just prospects or just potential referral partners. This helps you foster a range of strategic relationships.
- They’ll track meaningful interactions in your CRM so that you have a full picture of all your interactions with key connections. This allows you to track each relationship’s progress and better anticipate when they’ll result in meaningful opportunities.
By systematizing your social selling approach, you’ll be able to make strategic pivots regarding what kinds of people you’re connecting with, how frequently, and the messaging you use to transform a casual connection into a meaningful relationship.
To learn more effective strategies, download our guide to sales productivity. In it, our Director of Inside Sales shares his top tips to consistently close deals efficiently.
About the Author: Emily leads Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.