We all know the internet and social networks are changing the sales process. Buyers have access to more information and are doing more for themselves. For example:
- 90% of customer buying decisions start online (Forrester)
- 75% of B2B buyers use social media to research vendors (IDC)
As a consequence companies need to provide helpful online content and information, to build a trust and credibility and to identify and engage with potential customers through social networks. This approach is frequently referred to as social selling.
LinkedIn defines social selling as “Leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately, achieve your sales goals.”
Does Social Selling work?
The evidence shows that it’s effective:
- Social sellers realize a 66% greater quota attainment than those using traditional prospecting techniques (SBI).
- 61% of organisations engaged using social selling report a positive impact on revenue growth (Feedback Systems).
- Companies such as SAP, IBM and many others reported significant sales success from social selling (here are some case studies from them and others)
A survey by CSO Insights and Seismic found that a third of B2B professionals believed that social selling allowed them to generate more leads and build deeper relationships with their clients:
So it’s no surprise to see a growing interest in social selling. The chart below shows the volume of searches for social selling on Google over the last 4 years.
Sharing insightful, helpful content with your audience is a key part of the social selling and marketing process. The benefits include:
- Building your brand, reputation and authority
- Generating trust by sharing and curating from a range of sources, not simply broadcasting your own content
- Providing value to your customers and potential customers
- Converting fans and followers into leads and customers
The role of content in engaging your audience is confirmed in a wide range of studies, for example:
- 67% of top-performing sales organizations support their sales enablement efforts with content (Aberdeen Group).
- 65% of buyers feel that content has an impact on their final purchase decision (Demand Gen Report).
- 82% of buyers viewed between five to eight pieces of content from a winning vendor (Demand Gen Report).
But what content works? Of course, you need to create and share your own original content. That’s the primary role of content marketing. But it can’t stop there. It is not enough to simply share our own content with your audiences. We also need to curate valuable and relevant content from external sources. The simple fact is that your organisation does not have a monopoly on good ideas and great 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 generate leads.
But first you have to find quality content, and decide what’s worth sharing. This is why content curation plays a key role in social selling.
Ok – So What’s 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 in your sector or niche
- Filtering it so only the most relevant and highest quality content remains
- Adding value to that content with commentary, context, questions
- Sharing it with the right audiences, at the right time, in the right places
- Continuously repeating this process to build ongoing engagement and credibility
Why do I need Content Curation for Social Selling? Isn’t it About Engaging on Social Networks?
Yes, Social Selling is about identifying and engaging prospects on social networks. But what are you going to engage them with? Sharing valuable content is a core part of engaging people online and building relationships. This content can provide insights and help your customers by scanning and filtering relevant content. 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.
Kevin Tully (@kevinttully)
Why Should I Spend time Curating Third-Party Content When We Can Just Share Our Own?
We get it. You’re busy. Why divert time to consider content curation when you could be writing your next post or preparing a mailshot? Here are five reasons you need to look beyond your own content:
- Talking about yourself is not a way to build relationships. To build trust, and to help your audience, you need to share content from a range of independent sources. Content curation allows you to show independence and a wider understanding of your sector. You can’t just promote your own content.
- You do not have a monopoly on good ideas. There are many interesting developments taking place outside your organisation. Your network expects you to keep them informed on wider developments.
- You need to keep yourself informed. 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.
- It’s more efficient than just creating content. Unless you have an army of content marketers, you are unlikely to have the time and resources to create all the content you need to regularly share fresh insights with your audience. A balance of curation and creation enables you cover a lot more ground and increase social touch points in less time.
- It helps your prospects. Your aim is to help your 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.
So if you want to build credibility and trust on as a sales professional on social, build a curation habit into your social selling. Your network will thank you.