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In today’s world of online marketing, both in the B2C and B2B space, we are saturated with information from all sides and constantly looking to make connexions. But how do we develop powerful relationships that not only lasts but also lead to sales regularly?

We look at what social selling is in this article, and how it is likely to take the place of cold calling when it comes to digital sales strategies.

What’s social selling?

Social selling is exactly what it sounds like: to essentially sell a service, good, or product by using social media. But the act of social selling is more of a lead-generating activity, unlike the typical sales call or direct marketing campaign, for example, and is therefore at the top of the sales funnel.

The term social selling can be a little bit misleading to that extent in that it is not really about ‘the sale’; rather, it is about prospecting, engagement, and building relationships. When it comes to informing, educating, and building brand awareness, it is also a very useful instrument.

(While social selling can also happen face-to-face, we will mainly stick with the digital aspect of social selling for this article.)

Why does social selling work?

According to Sirius Decisions, 67 percent of a buyer’s journey takes place in the digital sphere, and before making a purchasing decision, people do online research most of the time these days.

This implies that the data they see in their social feeds about products and services is bound to make an impact. And there are plenty of reasons for individuals to be choosy and careful about who they are partnering within the B2B sphere.

Social selling is also helpful in connecting with others, such as thought leaders or celebrities, particularly influencers in their field. You’re usually looking to follow others with a strong social media following when you’re networking so that you can essentially tailgate off their audience.

The reason why social selling (mostly) does not work and cold calling are that it offers us a new way of having real, two-way conversations. As consumers and customers, when we have more and more information available to choose what we buy and who we partner with, we do not need to listen to a ‘pitch’.

To put it simply, social selling is more important than a cold call, so although it may not be directly converted, it will probably just feel more like an equal exchange and less like a one-way conversation.

Does ‘cold calling’ or ‘cold pitching’ still work at all?

In the past, for salespeople, the cold call was more or less the only option-that is, knock on someone’s door or look them up in the phonebook to try to convert at that first contact point. In such cases, a salesperson would probably have one chance of “talking up a person,” so there was pressure to make an immediate sale.

We have plenty of other marketing options today, of course. It is easier than ever to find and nurture leads, not only because we have a greater variety of tools to do so, but also simply because connecting with strangers via social media about products and services that interest us is more natural.

Cold pitching can still work as a general introduction, for example via email, but trying to do a hard sell from the get-go is not a good idea. A variety of methods will be used by the best salespeople (in B2B or B2C) to generate leads, but the traditional cold calling method is no longer valid, but it is certainly necessary to find other ways to connect with people in the online world.

Connecting Without Cold Calling

The idea behind social selling is that it enables your prospect, that is, by choice, to engage with you in a low-pressure manner.

Cold calling is traditionally invasive to the recipient as well as nerve-wracking to the caller, making both ends easily tense and awkward through the introduction. Using social selling, however, can be more successful because:

  • When they have the time, it gives the receiver the option to respond.
  • It enables the recipient to collect product or service information so that they can choose as to whether or not they want to have a conversation about it.
  • The emotional pressure on both ends of the conversation is relieved.

Contrary to the original “cold call” concept, the idea behind social selling is that you have an opportunity to share, educate, or even offer something of value without pressuring the receiver to give you anything.

You can, in other words, frame it as a real offer instead of a request. They are more likely to offer you something in return if you approach people cold by giving them information if they feel they have been given something genuinely useful or valuable.

How can social selling grow your business?

When you are engaging with people in your field, especially leaders who you learn from, you’re doing some form of social selling. And connecting with them need not be daunting or complex. There are plenty of instruments out there to help you understand with whom you want to connect as well as how you connect with them.

As long as you understand what you’re offering, you can connect with people in your industry using any social media platform in the B2B space, LinkedIn will be the best option, simply because it has a decidedly professional focus.

You can easily find people if you are innovative in using the tools provided on the site, such as asking for referrals from existing contacts, using endorsements, or creating specialty searches.

LinkedIn Tools that Help with Social Selling

For example, to guide you towards the best ways to connect with them, Crystal gives you information and insights into people’s work styles and personality types. And tools like SalesLoft Prospector collect data for you across multiple channels to provide information about different businesses and contacts in real-time.

Even if you just stick to LinkedIn for your networking, via simple blog posts and Slideshare slideshows, there are plenty of opportunities to boost your authority and visibility.

How is social selling useful for marketers?

LinkedIn argues that 78% of those who use social sales are more successful than their peers who are not, which is why. More than 75% of buyers are prepared to have a B2B conversation, the website also states, so there’s no need to be hesitant about approaching people in your industry.

The main thing to emphasise when it comes to cold calling versus social selling is that when it comes to long-term relationship-building, cold calling is typically not going to be your best bet unless you use it strategically in combination with social selling strategies. Social selling simply offers more opportunities more subtly and authentically to take fresh leads-it ‘s warmer and gives the individual more space to choose their response on the other end.

Personal branding is another area that social selling is useful for. If you think of popular digital marketing thinkers such as Neil Patel or Jay Baer, they use social selling to market themselves in such a way that a personal and professional presence is combined. They market their entrepreneurship, but the human element is included, and it is precisely this transparency that makes individuals trust what they do and what they have to say.

The Bottom Line

While in certain circumstances, cold calling can be successful, in today’s social media-dominated world, people in any field will most of the time be better off social selling, simply because of the way people these days consume information, goods, and services. However, in conjunction with each other, there may still be a case for using both social media and cold calling, but it should be done with care.

It is clear that there is a strong argument for social selling in today’s digital media world and that the selling technique of cold calling is not going to be worth the effort, at least in most cases. This is because they will probably do a quick search online when individuals want to buy or even partner up, and then go from there.

They are more likely to reach out to their trusted peer groups, including prospects from social networks and LinkedIn. They can read reviews online, have discussions in groups on Facebook, or try to connect with professional LinkedIn contacts.

The main thing is that social selling is about building long-term relationships, while cold calling is just “making a sale” and it’s just not enough for today’s discerning audiences to make a one-time sale these days.

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