We all know about the impact of the internet and social networks on the sales process. They are where your customers decide whether or not to do business with you.
- 90% of customer buying decisions now start online (Forrester)
- 75% of B2B buyers use social media to research vendors (IDC)
What is less obvious is how the role of the sales person is changing in this environment. Modern sales people now have to build a trusted reputation with potential customers through social networks. Successful sales teams use a social selling approach where they identify prospects and engage with them through the provision of helpful content and information.
LinkedIn defines social selling as “Leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately, achieve your sales goals.”
The evidence shows social selling is effective. Harvard Business Review recently shared some stats on social selling:
- 75% of B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions
- Hubspot reports that 72% of B2B salespeople who use social media outperformed their peers, and more than half of them indicated they closed deals as a direct result of social media
Other studies have found:
- Social sellers achieve a 66% greater quota attainment than those using traditional prospecting techniques (SBI).
- 61% of organisations using social selling report a positive impact on revenue growth (Feedback Systems).
Social Selling Needs Great Content
The rise of content marketing reflects the important role that content plays in the sales process, for example:
- 65% of buyers feel that content has an impact on their final purchase decision (Demand Gen Report).
- 67% of top-performing sales organizations support their sales enablement efforts with content (Aberdeen Group).
- 82% of B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s social content had a significant impact on their decision (Demand Gen Report)
- 82% of buyers viewed between five to eight pieces of content from a winning vendor (Demand Gen Report).
If you’re going to build relationships on social, you need to do it with helpful relevant content. Finding and sharing relevant content is a critical part of the social selling process. Finding, filtering and sharing insightful, helpful content enables sales people to:
- Build their brand, reputation and authority
- Generate trust by sharing and curating from a range of sources, not simply broadcasting their own content
- Provide value to their customers and potential customers
- Engage with their audience
But where do you get this content? That’s where content curation comes in.
What do we mean by Content Curation?
“A content curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. The most important component of this job is the word continually.”
To expand on this, content curation means
- Finding the best content from multiple sources
- Being aware of the latest industry developments and articles
- Filtering it so only the most relevant content makes it through
- Sharing it with the right audiences, at the right time, in the right places
- Adding value to that content with commentary, context or organisation
- Sharing content regularly and continually
Why do I need content curation? Isn’t social selling about engaging on social networks?
Yes, Social Selling involves identifying and engaging prospects on social networks. But it’s not just about trying However, curating and sharing insightful content is a key way to engage people online and to build relationships and trust. A LinkedIn survey found that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales professional who provides new insights about their business or industry.
So should you share your own company’s content? Of course. But you can’t stop there. The simple fact is that your organisation does not have a monopoly on good ideas and great content. Here’s why you need to go wider.
5 Reasons Why Sharing Your Own Content is Not Enough
It is not enough to simply share your own content. To stay updated and to keep your customers updated you need to find, review and curate content from a wide range of external sources. Being the first to share industry news, surveys, reports, case studies and ideas helps to build your authority and reputation, it also helps you to engage with your audience, and convert them into fans and potentially customers.
Here are five reasons you should curate widely:
Firstly, sales professionals shouldn’t put themselves first. To build trust, and to help your audience, you need to share content from a range of sources, based on what’s interesting to your audience. You can’t just talk about what makes you great. That’s as off-putting on social channels as it is in a cold call.
Secondly, there are many interesting developments taking place outside your organisation. Your network expects you to keep them informed on wider developments. Content curation allows you to show independence and a wider understanding of your sector.
Thirdly, effective sales and marketing professionals need to be top of the latest trends and developments in their sector which means reading widely. So if you are staying updated, why not curate and share your knowledge with your audience? That builds trust, credibility and a pipeline.
Fourth, you are unlikely to have the resources to create all the content you need to continually share good content with your audience. A balance of curation and creation enables you cover a lot more ground and engage with your audience on a regular basis.
Fifth, the aim of good sales people is to help customers to be successful. Finding and sharing helpful and insightful content for your audience is a key way to do this. The more you help them, the better your relationships will be.
Curation Tools For Sales Teams
Curation is hard work. It is hard to scan every feed, website, social network etc. Tools make it easier whether it is RSS Readers or Twitter lists. We have also developed a curation tool for sales teams, Anders Pink. You can curate articles on any topic and get a regularly updated stream of relevant content to personalise and share with your network. You can also curate collectively as a sales team.
As an example here is a feed of articles on social selling.
Save a little time and use these tools to help you curate.
Start Social Selling – Your Prospects Expect It
Your prospects make decisions about you and your company based on your social presence. What are you saying to them? Are you showing them that you’re informed about their challenges? Do they see you as a helpful credible authority, more on top of trends than your competitors? By curating recent, relevant content and sharing it in the right channels, you’ll build a bigger audience and better relationships on social. That’s the first step to conversion.