There is an old adage that people buy from people. Great sales professionals have always excelled at meeting people and building great relationships. It’s just what they do best. And as times have changed, so have the ways they go about this.
Today, there’s no doubt that social selling is key to improving sales. Social channels are where customers and potential customers gather, so naturally they are also where sales teams need to be. Not only this, a personal recommendation carries so much value (as it always has), and social selling amplifies these to revolutionise the relationship between a business and its customers.
Whilst these are exciting times, not everybody is able to do this well. Being the natural home of professionals – and therefore business relationships – LinkedIn can see which businesses are getting it right.
It has just released data on the top ten powerhouse sales teams in the UK, based on the platform’s Social Selling Index. This is a tool that pinpoints the businesses with the best sales teams when it comes to making and keeping relationships online. It measures how effective individuals are at the most important aspects of social selling; establishing their professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building those relationships that help to seal the deal.
The UK ranking includes some of the world’s biggest B2B technology companies, such as Rackspace, Salesforce and SAP. These brands are leading the way at using social channels to engage their audience.
So what is it that makes them stand out from the crowd? Let’s take Rackspace as an example. The company’s LinkedIn Company Page includes articles that spark debate and offer advice, as well as providing a real insight into the company culture. All of this helps the sales team at Rackspace engage with their customers and means prospects are much more likely to know the basics before they connect. In other words, they don’t need to cold call - the groundwork has already been laid. This is so important in a world where buyers are more educated and further along the buying cycle by the time they engage with vendors.
The brands in the top ten are experts at this. But every business, large and small, can leverage the power of social selling to drive growth by taking a few simple steps.
Establish a professional brand. Do not underestimate the importance of a strong professional brand. Complete your profile fully with the customer in mind, and add rich, meaningful content. According to data from LinkedIn, 92% of B2B buyers will engage with sales professionals if they are known industry thought leaders.
Find the right people. Waste no time by making the most of LinkedIn’s powerful search tools to zero in on decision makers, research potential prospects and leverage warm introductions to expand your network. Sales reps who viewed the profiles of at least ten people at each of their accounts were 69% more likely to exceed quota.
Engage with insights. It helps to discover and share conversation-worthy updates to create and grow relationships. Nearly 64% of B2B buyers report that they appreciate hearing from a salesperson who provides insight about their business, and LinkedIn groups are the perfect place for you to do this.
Build relationships. At the heart of successful selling, focus on building relationships with decision-makers at your prospects and customers. But do not neglect your colleagues and existing contacts who will be able to provide you with warm introductions. 73% of B2B buyers prefer sales professionals who have been referred by someone they know. Once connected, nurture the relationship over time to keep your services top of mind.