How does social selling fit into the modern sales process? 

How does social selling fit into the modern sales process? 

By Ready For Social | Jan 29, 2024

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We are excited to start a new blog series focusing on modern sales practices and their connection with social selling and digitization. In the upcoming weeks, we will cover major trends, opportunities, and pain points of sales professionals and organizations while delivering tangible solutions to the problems ambitious sales teams face today.  

Sales professionals worldwide have understood that the winds of change have blown decisively in the direction of digital interactions. The traditional sales playbook has been rewritten, and at the forefront of this transformation is the pivotal role played by social selling. In our first article of the series, we will unravel how social selling seamlessly integrates into the modern sales process, reshaping the dynamics between sellers and buyers.  


The digital evolution of B2B sales  

The B2B sales process has undergone a profound metamorphosis in recent years, with traditional methods, such as face-to-face meetings and cold calls, yielding to the prevalence of virtual interactions. Perhaps as the most striking data point, a recent LinkedIn State of Sales Report has found that about 1/3 of sellers (31%) have closed deals over $500,000 without ever meeting the buyer face to face.  

Along the same vein, a study by Salesforce states that 75% of business buyers expect companies to use new technologies to create better experiences. This shift indicates a broader trend wherein decision-makers increasingly use digital channels for information and engagement. With this, they also look for trust and value in relationships – 78% of decision-makers surveyed by LinkedIn stated that they prefer engaging with sales professionals who provide insights and value beyond product or service information.  

As digital communication channels become central to business interactions, platforms like LinkedIn emerge as crucial tools for sales professionals. LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report reveals that 90% of decision-makers do not respond to cold outreach, emphasizing the importance of personalized and strategic engagement. In this new terrain of virtual interactions, the ability to navigate and leverage social media for sales purposes is becoming a defining factor for success. The data underscores a shift in sales methods and a fundamental transformation in how businesses and buyers interact in the digital age.  


Social Selling as a cornerstone  

In the modern B2B landscape, the objective of sales professionals extends beyond the transactional to the relational. The emphasis is on relationship-building, trust establishment, and cultivating connections through interactions that offer genuine value. According to the Salesforce State of Sales Report, 84% of B2B buyers engage in online research before making purchase decisions, reinforcing that building a digital presence and delivering value through social channels is imperative for sales success.  

LinkedIn, in particular, has emerged as the epicenter of social selling, hosting a community where professionals connect, share insights, and engage in meaningful discussions. Approximately 89% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for lead generation, and research by HubSpot indicates that companies using LinkedIn for social selling experience a 45% higher opportunity-to-close rate.  

The evolution of the modern salesperson is profound. No longer confined to a transactional role, they have transformed into curators of meaningful connections. The relational aspect is crucial, with 64% of sales teams using social selling reporting to achieve higher team quotas. The shift from transactional to relational selling is not just a strategic choice but necessary in a landscape where buyers seek authentic engagement and value-driven interactions. Social selling has become the linchpin that enables sales professionals to navigate and thrive in this new era of B2B interactions.  


Personalization, authenticity, and relevant content  

Effectiveness in social selling hinges on the trinity of personalization, authenticity, and relevant content. Understanding the unique needs and interests of the target audience is paramount. Sales professionals must tailor their messaging to resonate with the prospects, providing information that goes beyond the transactional and empowers them to make informed decisions. It’s a dance of nuance – not just what you sell but how you sell it.  

Understanding the unique needs and interests of the target audience is the heartbeat of effective social selling. According to Salesforce, approximately 72% of B2B buyers expect personalized engagement from vendors, emphasizing the demand for tailored interactions.  

Authenticity stands as the cornerstone of effective social selling, with 79% of buyers stating that they prefer to interact with a salesperson who is knowledgeable about their product and acts with authenticity and transparency, as the Edelman Trust Barometer shows. According to LinkedIn’s Global State of Sales Report, buyers also want to be challenged. Eighty-nine percent say they are more likely to consider a brand if a seller changes the buyer’s way of thinking. Ultimately, authenticity establishes trust, a currency of paramount importance in the digital landscape where virtual engagements increasingly replace face-to-face interactions.  

Relevant content is the linchpin that ties personalization and authenticity together. A study by Demand Gen Report reveals that 95% of B2B buyers consider content trustworthy when evaluating a company and its offerings. Sales professionals must go beyond the transactional pitch, becoming purveyors of valuable insights and information that empower prospects to make informed decisions.  

It’s not just about what you sell but how you sell it – a dance of nuance that requires a profound understanding of the prospect’s journey and a commitment to delivering a personalized, authentic, and content-rich experience. This trinity is the key to unlocking meaningful connections and driving successful outcomes in social selling.  


Shortening sales cycles and closing deals  

Next to building relationships based on value and trust, the true transformative power of social selling lies in its ability to expedite the sales cycle. Engaging with prospects on social media platforms allows salespeople to forge connections more swiftly, bypassing traditional barriers such as gatekeepers and initial reluctance. According to a study by LinkedIn, 76% of buyers prefer to work with vendors recommended by someone they know, emphasizing the role of social connections in accelerating the sales process.  

Our own data collected by our ReadyForSocial team further substantiates the efficacy of social selling, revealing that each active social seller has the potential to close two additional deals per year. This underscores the tangible impact of social selling on deal closure probabilities, making a compelling case for its integration into modern sales practices.  

Additionally, the influence of social media engagement is reflected in the fact that 64% of sales teams that use social media hit their quota, compared to only 49% of teams that don’t, as HubSpot statistics show. These insights highlight the correlation between social selling efforts and sales performance, emphasizing the potential for increased success in meeting and surpassing sales targets.  

In the digital age, where virtual interactions have become the norm, leveraging social media for relationship-building and lead nurturing is not only advantageous but essential for sales professionals aiming to thrive in the competitive landscape. The strategic incorporation of social selling tactics is critical in driving efficiency, shortening the sales cycle, and ultimately contributing to real business results.  


How social selling can help address some of the biggest pain points of today’s B2B sellers  

With a change in buyers’ behavior and traditional sales methods becoming more ineffective, integrating social selling into the sales process can help address some of the major pain points sales organizations are facing today. Let’s take a look at some of them and see how social selling can help.  

  1. Insufficient weekly activity and stale funnels:   

One of the prominent pain points in modern sales is the lack of consistent weekly activity from sellers, leading to stagnant or slow-growing sales funnels. A stagnant funnel is often a result of inadequate weekly meetings and conversations. According to a report by HubSpot, salespeople who consistently engage in active prospecting and outreach are more likely to achieve their quotas. The lack of regular activity can impede the flow of new leads into the funnel and hinder the overall growth of the sales pipeline. Implementing social selling strategies can remedy this challenge, allowing sellers to proactively connect with potential customers and nurture relationships over time.  


Encourage sellers to incorporate social selling activities into their weekly routines. This habit should include regular engagement on platforms like LinkedIn, sharing relevant content, and actively participating in industry discussions. Providing training on effective social selling techniques can empower sellers to make meaningful connections and keep their funnels dynamic. Making social selling a habit will normalize the process.   


  1. Difficulty in securing meetings or calls:   

Sellers frequently express challenges in obtaining the necessary meetings or calls essential for their success. This issue can be attributed to changing buyer behavior, where decision-makers are more elusive and selective in their engagements. A study by Salesforce found that 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to engage with sales professionals who are known industry thought leaders. Social selling can address this pain point by positioning sellers as industry experts through consistent and valuable content sharing, making them more attractive to potential clients.   


Position sellers as thought leaders in their respective industries by consistently sharing valuable content on social media. This can enhance their credibility and make them more appealing to potential clients. Additionally, leveraging social networks to identify common connections or interests with prospects can increase the likelihood of securing meetings.  


  1. Low responsiveness of marketing qualified leads (MQLs):   

Despite evident interest, MQLs may not always respond to meeting requests, leaving sales teams frustrated. The disconnect between marketing and sales can be addressed through a more integrated approach, emphasizing using social media for personalized engagement. According to a LinkedIn report, 76% of buyers are more likely to respond to a meeting request if it comes from a professional network connection. Social selling can bridge this gap by leveraging existing connections and building relationships beyond traditional communication channels.  


Foster better collaboration between marketing and sales teams. Implement a unified approach that emphasizes personalized engagement through social media channels. Sellers can use insights gained from social platforms to tailor their outreach, making it more likely for MQLs to respond positively.  


Set your sales team up for success.  

In the modern sales process, social selling is not merely a tool but a strategic imperative. It’s the art of navigating the digital landscape with finesse, building relationships that transcend the transactional, and creating a ripple effect that shortens sales cycles and boosts deal closures. As we ride the wave of digital transformation, savvy sales professionals understand that the real currency is no longer just the product or service – the authentic connections forged in the social sphere make all the difference.   

In our next article, we will explore in detail the tools, training, and strategies necessary to enable sales teams to engage in effective social selling, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning. 

Photos by Pavel Danilyuk, Christina Morillo, Tima Miroshnichenko, and fauxels on Pexels