In today’s social media-dominated world, social selling is more necessary than ever, but employee advocacy can push your efforts to succeed.
Social selling is a modernized way to connect with people, identify new prospective buyers, and build relationships with them in order to reach sales goals. It allows sales reps to engage with potential buyers in a casual way, rather than cold calling or being pushy. Although social selling is a great method for sales teams to practice, combining social selling with an employee advocacy program garners even better results.
Before we break down why you should combine social selling with employee advocacy, you need to understand what each of them is.
Social selling is a tactic of connecting with people on social media and developing stronger relationships with them as part of the sales process. This could be through education on the topic, industry, trends and challenges, and about your products and services. It involves identifying prospects, informing them, building your own credibility, and bringing them down the sales funnel.
Salespeople who excel at social selling create more opportunities than those who don’t and are 51% more likely to hit their quota, according to LinkedIn.
Employee advocacy is a method used to promote your brand and initiatives through people who work for your organization in an authentic and trusted way, typically on social media or other digital channels.
Sales teams participating in an employee advocacy program will be unified in their messaging and their goals on social media. They will also be more confident in sharing content and engaging with others.
All curated content in an employee advocacy program is vetted by the marketing team who usually manages the program. This lets the members of the program know that this type of messaging and content is not only ok to share, but it’s what we want to share.
Oftentimes people hesitate to promote their brand or share content on social media because they’re not sure if it’s on brand or if their organization would be ok with them doing that. But an employee advocacy program allows people to be more active without worrying about posting the wrong thing.
Being active on social media and sharing content gives people an opportunity to engage with you on social media. Messages are re-shared 24X more frequently when posted by an employee vs. the same messages posted by a brand, according to the MSLGroup.
Sharing insightful content on social media also builds up your credibility, your following, your influence, and your own personal brand while promoting your organizations’ brand.
When you post insightful content on industry trends and challenges and engage with industry influencers and analysts, it builds up your credibility. People will notice your activity and what you’re sharing and they’ll see that you know what you’re talking about. They might try to stir up a conversation with you on industry topics or ask you questions to get your view on related topics.
This leads to people wanting to engage with you, building your social following and presence, increasing your leads, and closing more deals. Prospective buyers tend to make several digital touches before ever engaging with a salesperson. They might visit your website, read your blogs, watch your videos, read some of your social posts and social interactions.
This means if someone is interested in your brand but wants to learn more about it before talking to a salesperson, bolster your social media presence and brand exposure in other outlets the same way you bolster your website.
By building up the social media presence and influence of people on your sales team, you make it easier for people who are interested in your brand to casually reach out to them and engage. They can message someone on LinkedIn or Twitter, for example, without scheduling a call or officially becoming a lead by giving up their email.
You want your sales team to be unified in sharing the right types of content to present themselves as credible sources of knowledge on industry topics. Supply them with content that is appropriate for the social channel that also helps your brand.
The reason you want a balance of both is that if they do nothing but constantly promote the brand, they look like a bot or a source of advertising. If they only talk about industry topics, they might build up their following in your industry, but no one will know what they do and will not draw in as much business.
These are the types of content you want to promote and how to balance them in your strategy.
Most of the content you have your sales team share should be third-party content, not your own. People already know they are sales reps, so you don’t want them to act like they are only trying to sell you something. People don’t like talking to people who only talk about themselves, so if you want people to talk to you, you shouldn’t do that either.
Instead, share third-party content on industry topics, trends, and challenges to present your sales team as an authority in your industry, not just your products and services. This gives employees credibility and people will be more likely to engage with them.
Supply your sales team with the latest industry news and studies. If they share up-to-date groundbreaking research and news about your industry, they appear more in touch with industry trends. Also, people follow other people who share the latest insightful information and this can leverage your sales team as a go-to resource to get answers.
Of course, it can’t all be about what’s going on outside of your organization. You need to reel in customers and talk about what your organization does, too.
The trick is, you want to lightly mix in your content and self-promotion, and the best way to do that is by sharing what other people have to say about you. Case studies and testimonials definitely serve that purpose.
Take the positive things your customers have to say about your products, services, and brand, and use your employee advocacy program to promote them. Don’t forget that social media can be an excellent place to find user-generated testimonials about your product or service, too. Sometimes the best and most powerful content to promote your brand is something you never created at all.
People see these types of content as social validation - other people like your products and services, so maybe they will too. Messages shared by employees reach more than 5x further than when shared by a brand account, according to the MSLGroup.
Social selling can be very effective at driving the results you want from your sales team. An employee advocacy program supplies them the tools they need to be more active and confident on social media, allowing them to build out their social influence and presence, and engage with the right people in your industry.
Ramin Edmond is the former Content Strategist for GaggleAMP. Outside of work, Ramin likes to run, hike, and take pictures of Boston's best views. You can get in touch with Ramin by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
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