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How Cold Outreach Can Boost Your Social Selling Strategy

If you had to pick only one sales tactic, what would it be?

A pretty tough question, right? Because no matter how effective your email marketing, referral, or content strategy is, you can’t depend on a single tactic to run your business (let alone scale it). 

A successful sales strategy is always a mix of various tactics and methods that work together helping you reach your primary target – attract more customers and generate more revenue.  

And, while some tactics might seem absolutely incompatible, they often drive the best results when used in combination. That is especially true when talking about social selling and cold outreach. Considered to be directly opposite, the two tactics complement each other on so many levels, helping sales teams build better relationships with their prospects.

An SDR Team Leader, I’ve been experimenting with social selling recently and I can definitely say that there’s a huge potential for sales development here. So I’d like to talk about the specifics of social selling outreach and offer some actionable tips on how to succeed with it in this article.

What is Social Selling Anyway?

If you’re working in a sales-related field, you should have already heard about social selling or seen other sales professionals do it. 

Gartner defines social selling as “the process of shaping demand and lead generation with social media tools that allow sales representatives to:

  • Engage prospects
  • Create and strengthen relationships
  • Move them through the sales funnel to achieve sales goals.

However, regularly posting content on Twitter or LinkedIn or even having thousands of followers isn’t enough to drive any sales through social media. 

Social selling is all about meaningful engagement with the relevant audience that helps you earn trust and build a strong relationship with the prospects. 

And that is exactly what makes social selling so effective, as demonstrated by the following social selling statistics:

  • 79% of salespeople who use social media as a selling tool outperform those who don’t.
  • 98% of sales reps with more than 5,000 LinkedIn connections meet or surpass their quota, according to Sales Benchmark Index.
  • 63.4% of social sellers reported an increase in company sales revenue (compared to 41.2% of non-social sellers).

On top of that, social selling can help you generate 45% more sales opportunities and make you 51% more likely to hit the quota, according to LinkedIn

And there are hundreds of examples to back up the data, including the IBM’s pilot program that helped them increase their sales by 400% and SAP that delivered 32% more revenue and became 10% more likely to achieve quota due to their social selling efforts.

How to Make Social Selling Work For You

Social selling might seem easy – as long as you post engaging and valuable content the leads will follow.

However, there are more aspects to successful lead generation on social media you need to consider. It takes time, effort, and a consistent strategy to build your personal brand, create trust with your audience, and motivate them to buy from you.

Here’s a high-level template action plan to get you started:

Pick the right platform for social selling

First of all, identify the social media platforms that can provide the best access to your target audience. Knowing who your ideal customers are, e.g. their location and age, will help you find the place where they reside online.

Make sure to keep an eye on the competition, but don’t blindly follow the crowd. For example, if most companies in your field focus on LinkedIn, but you know exactly that your audience is also very active on Twitter, go with the latter. Joining some of the less popular networks can help you build a loyal following there without having to fight for the audience with other companies.

Pro tip: While it’s best to focus on one social selling channel at a time, having an established presence across other platforms is also important. It will help you develop your personal image and build brand awareness.

Establish your presence on the chosen platform 

Once you pick the right channel for your social selling efforts, you need to lay the foundation of your personal brand. Start with optimizing your profile – use a professional photo, craft a powerful bio, add social proof, e.g. endorsements, publications, etc.

Next, start building up your audience by following the people you already know and expanding your network to their connections. Joining relevant groups and systematically engaging with other members is also a valid strategy to get some traction.

Pro tip: Growing your audience from square one can take time and effort, but it’s better to get 100 targeted, relevant people to follow you than buy 10,000 random bot profiles with zero engagement.

Come up with a consistent strategy

Simply posting something when you feel like it isn’t enough to grow your audience, keep your followers engaged, and eventually convert them into customers. You need a strategy.

This includes:

  • A content plan – what you will be sharing, how often and when exactly.
  • Engagement tactics – how you will interact with your followers to keep them active, e.g. respond to their comments, tag them in comments and posts, use polls or share downloadable content, etc. 
  • Goals and KPIs – how you will measure its effectiveness, e.g. number of followers, post reach, etc. 

Pro tip: You might have a whole team working on your social selling strategy, but make sure to create and use your own voice (that aligns with your company’s brand and values) to reinforce your personal brand. 

Use a solid toolset to support your efforts

There are dozens of amazing social selling tools that can help you optimize your efforts, e.g. post scheduling tools, content curation, social listening, data scraping, etc. So don’t hesitate to add those to your sales stack if you feel like they might make your life a little easier.

There are even ways to streamline and grow your engagement on LinkedIn or other social platforms automatically! The most common option to do that is via the so-called engagement pods – private groups where you exchange comments and likes with other members looking to boost their social media posts.

Pro tip: Don’t get carried away with the latter. Most prospects will instantly see the boosted posts with hundreds of generic comments and walk right past them despite all the “engagement”.

Reinforce your social selling with other sales tactics

As mentioned above, simply posting relevant content and chatting with the followers in comments won’t bring you hot leads right away. Social selling works best in combination with other tactics, e.g. content marketing, paid advertising, etc.

And even with the listed tactics, social selling won’t differ too much from a simple social media marketing. To put the “selling” into your social selling strategy, consider using other tactics, e.g. cold outreach.

Pro tip: On the other hand, social platforms like LinkedIn can provide tons of valuable information and actionable insights to level up your outreach strategy – from allowing you to source prospect contacts to personalizing your messages based on the prospect’s activity.

The Case for Cold Outreach in Social Selling

In traditional sales, cold outreach is a form of direct engagement with your prospects that implies proactive selling. That is why this tactic is often frowned upon as too aggressive or intrusive.

However, there’s a huge difference between the traditional cold outreach and the modern twist on this tactic also referred to as sales engagement:

  • The former pimples sending direct messages en masse to random people you’ve never interacted with and pitching your product to them (which also perfectly fits the definition of SPAM).
  • The latter is more about getting in touch with people that follow you, share your content, or have ever engaged in a discussion with you on social media using personal, tailored messages – which can be a powerful strategy for creating more sales opportunities.

As a result, direct outreach, be it on social media or other channels, can be a valuable addition to your social selling strategy. 

5 Ways Cold Outreach Can Supercharge Your Social Selling Efforts

According to LinkedIn, social selling “enables better sales lead generation and sales prospecting process and eliminates the need for cold calling.” 

And that is true, at least to some extent. Being able to engage with your audience prior to making a call (or sending an email) does eliminate the “cold” aspect of outreach. It offers you an effective way to warm up your prospects before contacting them directly.

However, there also many ways direct outreach can complement and reinforce your social selling efforts. For example:

1. Add extra touchpoints with the prospects

Direct outreach is a great opportunity to engage your audience across multiple channels outside of social media. Sending a custom email to your followers can help you build deeper, more personal connections with them.

Sending a personal message on social media as a followup to your cold email (or vice versa) is a proven strategy for increasing engagement success widely used by top sales teams.

Plus, your outreach doesn’t necessarily have to be sales-related. You can create and share surveys, conduct polls, collect feedback, or send unique downloadable content using Woorise templates.

2. Act upon the prospect’s buying signals

Despite being called social selling, this tactic doesn’t really provide any room for active sales. You can’t openly tell your followers “buy my stuff!” and expect them to do that.

However, pitching your product as a solution to the specific problems or needs they’ve publicly voiced earlier is an appropriate and effective sales tactic often referred to as intent-based outreach.

For example, if a prospect has voiced their dissatisfaction with your competitor or said that they are looking for another solution, it might be a perfect opportunity to pitch your product. And your previous interactions on social media can serve as a great ice-breaker. 

3. Boost your visibility

Dozens of potential prospects might be interacting with you on social media without realizing what you have to offer. In this case, reaching out to them individually can help you increase your brand awareness and generate more leads.

A case in point: one of our team members reached out to a prospect they’d been following for some time to ask for feedback on our new product. The person was so impressed with the message that she decided to share the message with her network. 

As a result, the post got 200+ reactions and over 20 comments (tagging dozens of other prospects). Needless to say, this was a major boost to our online visibility and brand awareness, helping us drive tons of relevant traffic to our product and the SDR’s profile.

4. Add more value

As mentioned above, your outreach shouldn’t be aimed at making a sale. Sharing exclusive content that your prospect might be interested in or offering a specific solution to the problems they’ve voiced earlier are just some ways direct outreach can help you build rapport with your audience. 

For example, if one of your promising prospects mentioned a book they would love to read and you happen to have a copy, don’t hesitate to share it. This nice gesture can be a great way to get on the prospect’s radar (while posting that book for all your followers would be just wrong).

5. Reach decision-makers

If you want to connect with a CEO who doesn’t spend too much time on LinkedIn and aren’t very likely to respond to your emails, you can reach out to their colleagues or closer connections who follow you on social media. 

So, instead of sending a cold email directly to the decision-maker, you can get a referral from the person they know which will guarantee a higher chance of success. Consider this a modern twist on one of the tactics described by Aaron Ross in his bestselling book.

Multichannel Engagement for The Win

The impact of social media on sales is hard to deny. There are many cases when businesses don’t even need a website and can easily drive 100% of their sales through social networks.

However, if you’re looking to build a closer relationship with your prospects and eventually move them down your sales funnel, you need to employ a more proactive sales approach. And that is where direct outreach comes in handy.

Combining the two strategies within a single engagement campaign can help you create a relevant, wholesome experience for your prospects and establish deeper bonds with them.

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