What is social selling and should you use it?

By Anders Björklund

What is social selling and should you use it?

A while ago I noticed a post on LinkedIn that had lots of interactions, the post was about social selling. I looked at the comments and the post seemed to be fairly appreciated. I read the post and found it interesting from the perspective that it never explained what social selling is, nor why you should use it. So what is social selling? 

What is social selling?

For me, social selling is a stupid name that miss-guides you. I believe that it means that you use offsite communities (a.k.a. social media platforms) to find, connect with, understand, nurture prospects, customers and relations. It’s a way to increase meaningful and relevant interactions to keep you as a preferred source and top of mind when it comes to certain knowledge or inspiration. I refer to this as offsite interactions.

On your offsite accounts, you engage with offsite interactions—even if you’ve never actually used the term to describe your online activities, or thought all that much about it. 

Perhaps equally important to explaining what offsite interactions mean is to explain what offsite interactions is not. It’s not about bombarding strangers with what you eat or about your companies USPs or private messages. There’s a name for that: spam.

Offsite interactions are not just about gaining access to contacts but about building relationships and strategically listening for the right moment to join the conversation, addressing a question with a relevant answer or suggestion.

Now that you understand what offsite interactions are, let’s look at why doing it well is so important for your business.

Why you should care about offsite interactions

If you and your colleagues have not embraced offsite interactions, you are quite simply not all you could be. Here are two reasons why.

Offsite interactions let you build relationships

Nobody likes cold calling. And it’s not very effective: 90 percent of top decision-makers say they never respond to cold calls. Using offsite tools to listen in on conversations relevant to your industry—offsite listening—allows you and your team to identify what people are already talking about, so you can reach out to them slowly with useful and relevant content when the time is right.

When people share so much information about their needs, wants, and challenges on their public profiles, even your first point of contact can be personalised, relevant, and helpful, rather than intrusive and disturbing.

Better yet, building a strong network through various offsite communities allows you to seek out introductions to new connections through existing mutual connections, creating an immediate sense of trust and rapport.

Your relations and connections are already engaged in offsite buying

What’s offsite? Flip the concept of offsite interactions on its head. Just as you can use offsite listening and other offsite research to find potential relations, those potential relations are already using offsite listening, offsite search and research to find potential vendors, research them online, and develop an opinion about which vendor is the best fit, all before taking the first contact.

If you’re not actively engaged offsite, you’re not showing up in that offsite purchase research: that’s a lot of potential missed sales.

Be present, active and stay relevant

Business has always been about building relationships, establishing rapport and credibility, and providing the right solution to the right prospect at the right time. Offsite interactions don’t change that. It just provides you as a professional with an additional suite of tools to incorporate into your work so you can focus on the most productive parts of their buying process and maximise the benefits of existing relationships and connections to build an expanded network of prospects who actually want to hear from you.

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Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B.
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