Social Selling Content Marketing

The Vital Ingredient in Social Selling – Content Marketing

By Sander Biehn | Apr 11, 2017

Sander Biehn is founder and CEO of Thought Horizon, LLC. After a successful career in sales at AT&T, he founded his company in 2013 helping organizations to build, manage and succeed using social selling.

For any B2B company embarking into the world of Social Selling, I have one word I need to whisper in your ear: “Content!”

Content is the vital ingredient that determines whether your Social Selling program will  either survive or die. Let me put it in perspective.

Many companies roll out a social selling program with the following components:

1. Training

2. Tools for prospecting such as LinkedIn Navigator

3. Gamification

4. Measurement of follower growth and attributed sales

The problem with this set up is that it is destined for failure for reasons that are out of the scope of the salesforce.

So, what’s the problem? Let’s walk through the implementation timeline.

The sales teams come out of Social Selling training armed with sparkling social media profiles, LinkedIn Navigator and a fantastic attitude toward social media. Their initial efforts generate new followers and possibly some sales. However, sales people quickly learn that they need to do more than just connect with prospects. They need to engage with them. This is the point where things get tough.

Sales people will raid your pool of existing marketing blogs, but usually find them not focused enough for the vertical segments they target. Customers are selfish. They want to know how these products will solve their industry-specific problems and they don’t want to waste time reading about anything else.

At that point, the desperate salespeople begin looking for 3rd party content.  They sustain this routine as long as they can, but it eventually becomes too much.  It takes a lot of work to create a steady stream of content that excites customers. Too much work for any one salesperson.

This is why so few salespeople become proficient in social selling. The amount of additional work can be daunting. The dilemma forces them to make a choice:  Social Selling vs Regular Selling. The more comfortable choice often wins.

I know one company trying to beat these odds by sending out a weekly email called “Tweet Meat” (I know, I know). This has helped sellers stay active, but cutting and pasting is more work than the average sales person has time for. Sharing content has got to be simple, fast and, well, extremely simple.

Here’s a social media program plan that covers all the bases:

1. Content with a clear messaging strategy and consistent creation

2. Training

3. Tools for sharing targeted content

4. Tools for prospecting such as LinkedIn Navigator

5. Gamification

6. Measurement of follower growth, attributed sales and content social reach

Here are major differences between the two:

1. Content Strategy: Having a plan of what content will go out and what the messaging looks like is crucial to finding and creating content that sales will want to share on a regular basis. Without a strategy plan, the content may not be focused enough on the vertical markets or it may sound like Marketing, not Sales. If this is the case, the salesforce will not share it.

2. Content Sharing Tool: Having a simple way to consistently share on social will keep all social metrics climbing—including followers. Even if salespeople get too busy to log into the actual social platforms for a week or so, social sharing tools will allow them to schedule content out. This keeps them active and visible on social media. It eliminates the frustration sellers have when they do well on social media one week only to find themselves too busy to log in the next. They feel like they are starting over and then they make that fateful hard choice.

3. Measuring Social Reach: By measuring the reach on social media that your sales team is giving your marketing content, you can keep the organization focused on the direct ROI the program is creating. Social reach compared to cost to distribute an article has a real-dollar value. Quick, what’s a new follower worth exactly? Finding direct ways to measure value keeps the program on solid footing and helps you understand which salespeople contribute the most.

Creating a successful social selling program for your teams won’t happen by accident. You can learn from others who have already had success. Just remember, content needs to live at the heart of any social selling initiative.