Social selling focuses on developing relationships with consumers as a key component of sales. Most recently, social selling involves sales and marketing interactions on social networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, although it can also take place offline or over other online platforms. In fact, direct sales companies have been using social selling as their main marketing strategy since long before the arrival of the internet and social media – consider Tupperware or Avon as a classic example. With the advent of social media, however, social selling has become a popular approach for business-to-business (B2B) and even business-to-consumer (B2C) companies to adopt as part of their overall marketing strategies.
Companies’ sales organizations often use data from social media websites to connect with customers in more authentic ways, rather than through more traditional methods, such as cold calls. As such, social selling relates closely to other marketing strategies, including relationship marketing and social media marketing.
There are several different components to a successful social selling approach. With social prospecting, sales teams track various social networks to identify prospects showing buying signals that would indicate customer interest in a product or service. Through personal branding, businesses and individuals can utilize social media to establish their credibility with consumers – this is a popular strategy for independent consultants and professional bloggers. In an employee advocacy approach, sales team members use their personal social presence to market their company’s product or service by providing helpful expertise while being careful not to sound like a sales person. Finally, social relationship management utilizes online networks to foster positive relationships with consumers.