Why social selling isn’t just about lead capture
The traditional B2B inbound funnel structure of attracting viewers, capturing leads, nurturing them via email and finally, closing a sale over the phone, has evolved.
A LinkedIn survey of B2B buyers showed that they would be more likely to engage with sales reps who reached out through personal connections and shared industry knowledge. A whopping 88% of respondents said they would engage with a sales rep who was introduced through someone in their professional network.
Indeed, people today are more guarded with their email addresses and personal information than ever before. Therefore, the general approach to inbound marketing has effectively changed.
Today, instead of focusing our efforts on capturing email addresses so we can use the prospect’s inbox as a relationship building hub, we need to consider every relevant communication channel when engaging with prospective customers. In fact, what we truly need is to understand the root behind the familiarity bias and why social selling is a critical part of decision-making.
Getting to the root of familiarity bias and social selling
Prospective customers are a lot more than people behind email address and phone numbers. In order to tap into conversions, marketers should consider factors that might impact their purchasing decision. Psychology often helps make sense of this seemingly complex task and social selling is no exception.
Consider the familiarity bias or science behind familiarity. According to Psychology Today, “This familiarity bias has a strong influence on what you buy…Chip Heath and Amos Tversky show in a series of experiments that when people are faced with a choice between two gambles, they will pick the one that is more familiar to them. In fact, they will sometimes pick the more familiar gamble even if the odds of winning are lower!”
Familiarity has also been known to have a major impact on a customer’s level of happiness, as illustrated here.
With this in mind, it’s apparent that people prefer products, services and/or other people they are familiar with, thus directly impacting the decision-making process. According to Conversion XL, “it has a major impact on conversions as well. Understanding the different psychological theories behind familiarity will lead to better UX / design, copy and calls to action.”
Social selling can act as the platform to facilitate this move towards familiarity by bridging the gap between businesses and prospective customers. With the ever-increasing number of channels and mediums of communication between buyers and seller, there are ample opportunities to leverage social selling strategies to generate a lot more than just leads.
So with that, welcome to the dawn of social selling, whereby B2B marketers build relationships by excelling at what thought leader Bryan Kramer calls human-to-human (H2H) communication.
Rise of the human2human (H2H) post-inbound funnel
If you’re familiar with the underlying theories behind Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s seminal 2011 book, Inbound Marketing, or Seth Godin’s groundbreaking 1999 work, Permission Marketing, then you know that the whole concept hinges on converting website visitors into email leads.
With the snake oil roadshows of the 1800s having evolved into door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen of the post-war suburbs, inbound marketing was like a breath of fresh air. Instead of coercing disinterested strangers into making purchases they’d never enjoy, businesses have instead focused on generating demand for their brands, offering expertise to audiences via publishing and email.
Today, however, there are signs that it’s time for a new model. Prospects drift in and out of conversations on social media. Site visitors drill down into content assets unilaterally, without any need for guided tours via email pushes.
To truly drive sales, companies need to stay up-to-date on how today’s actively involved customers are in researching and discussing products and services online. From social media channels to online reviews and forums, customers are becoming increasingly proactive and conversational when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
Social selling is about finding the sweet spot between the optimal customer experience and reaching out to prospective buyers. This is a challenge in and of itself, as social selling success depends on thinking about engagement as extending well beyond the singular KPI of capturing leads to feed a linear funnel. As such, it can be considered a crucial part of the B2B sales process from the onset.
Advanced B2B solutions emerge
With this evolution in mind, truly understanding your ideal customer’s purchasing habits require marketers to dive into specific user behavior, from time spent on specific content pages to social media engagement history..
To help companies more adequately approach social selling, there are emerging B2B tech solutions, including Leadfeeder, Socedo, and Contactually, that automate different elements relating to customer engagement and gather data and valuable information related to potential customers. These tools help businesses develop relationships between buyer and seller and move customers along the sales funnel in a more effective manner:
Leadfeeder: Helsinki-based Leadfeeder is a B2B solution that helps companies retrieve specific information about their website visitors. Additionally, with LinkedIn integration, Leadfeeder helps identify if there are people within your company familiar with a specific visitor profile, allowing customers to engage more effectively and naturally in a conversation.
Socedo: Socedo, meanwhile, focuses on taking the hard work out of Twitter lead filtering, and maximises the efficiency of social media automation for engaging with potential customers. With this tool, teams are able to turn prioritised Twitter followers into prospective customers by opening channels of communication in a simple, but organic way – see the flow chart below for a look into their process:
Contactually: Finally, Contactually enables adopters to receive email notifications and dashboard-presented information related to lead communication, allowing you to stay on top of your engagement to-do list. By having all this information presented clearly, you can easily follow up with specific customers and help move them along the sales funnel.
For optimal effectiveness, these and other tools should be combined with personalised content and enticing offers. Unfortunately, while there aren’t any secret formulas for grasping all of the ins and outs of social selling, its complexity will require companies and organisations to constantly look for creative ways to reach out to prospective buyers.