The social selling myths B2B marketers should ignore

Bust these myths to unlock the potential of social selling for B2B marketing strategy

April 20, 2017

social selling

Social selling has the capability to improve sales and marketing alignment and engage prospects throughout the buying journey. Done right, it transforms your sales team into an extension of your B2B marketing strategy, directing your marketing team to produce more relevant content, and amplifying that content through the most personalised distribution channel you have—your sales reps.

Some marketers may feel nervous about social selling encroaching on B2B marketing – but in truth, social selling is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate marketing’s full value to a business.

To make the most of social selling though, both you and your sales colleagues need to see past the myths that have sprung up around the practice. There’s a lot of good information out there about social selling – but also plenty of misinformation. Here are five social selling myths to ignore:

1. It’s a fancy new concept

While the format of social selling might be relatively new, the core principles are familiar to any good business professional. As social selling expert Koka Sexton explains in this infographic, the 1940s were social selling’s first era. Sales is not that different from how it was 70 years ago—it's still all about building relationships, generating leads and closing deals. The difference is that the coming together of social media and B2B content marketing creates the opportunity to do this in far more targeted and efficient way.

Businesses have always needed to listen and respond to their customers’ pain points, but are now just able to do this more effectively, thanks to customer prospecting, branding, employee advocacy and relationships all happening on social.

2. Social selling is just sales pitches taking place on social

If this is genuinely what your marketing team believes, then you have very little chance of getting value from social selling. As Sexton explains, “Social selling is the process of leveraging your professional brand to identify, connect and engage with buyers. It starts with the social identity of the salesperson and then extends into how they add value to their network and connect with buyers, ultimately to the point of taking the conversation offline when the sales process begins.”

It’s not the selling that takes place on a social platform such as LinkedIn, but rather the process of establishing a personal brand, and a value-adding relationship through content. That’s an open invitation for marketing to get more involved in the sales process – and it shows the folly of trying to divide the buyer’s journey between marketing and sales. When social selling is working as it should, buyers don’t resist talking to sales – they embrace it.

3. It’s a fad that will go away

It’s estimated that by the year 2020, 85 percent of a buyer-seller interaction will happen online through social media or video. Already, 55 percent of all general buyers and 70 percent of B2B purchasers use social media as a research tool when making purchasing decisions. Social selling isn’t going anywhere.

4. Social selling is just for sales

The process of social selling isn’t restricted to those solely in sales roles. The idea of leveraging networks to find relevant, warm introductions is a company-wide initiative – and the idea of employees sharing relevant content with prospects should be as well. The goal of a business is to build and contribute to the sales pipeline—something that every department can have a part in.

5. Customers hate it

Do prospects resent salespeople reaching out to them on social media platforms? Not if they’ve invested in understanding their potential customer and using social selling techniques to build trust. “I think customers hate it when they accept a connection request and then get a sales pitch right out of the gate,” says Sexton. “It degrades trust and perpetuates the stigma of how salespeople are perceived in the industry. However, most buyers appreciate a salesperson that has done their research and acts like a resource for them.”

Today’s buyer is more informed and savvy than ever. This gives sellers an opportunity to target those already showing interest in their product and services, and make the connection when the buyer actually wants it.

Social selling is the inevitable result of social media and content marketing coming together with a new generation of highly informed B2B decision-makers. Good selling techniques increasingly start with adding value on the right social networks – and marketing has an increasingly valuable role to play in making it happen