3 Tips to Hone Your Social Listening Skills

Discover how to finally make sense of all that social media data. Align sales goals with active social listening for a sales strategy that gets results.

November 16, 2016

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Welcome to the age of social selling: the sales funnel is shorter, the buyer journey is erratic, and your success as a seller in this increasingly crowded social space isn’t determined by how loudly you shout, but by how well you listen.

Data gleaned from social media can be incredibly rich. You can analyze prospect information in minutes, segment and target multiple demographics, identify and connect with industry leaders and influencers, scout competitors, and track trends. There’s only one problem with listening to this avalanche of social media data: there’s too much of it.

You want to cut through the static and find the social data that makes you a better seller. So here are some tips about how to cultivate your social listening skills, and what you can actually do with the data you find.

Social Listening Is a Verb

Great social listeners are active listeners. They don’t just absorb everything their prospects say on social media—that’s a one-way ticket to information overload. Instead, social sellers prioritize a few key goals and listen for specific instances so they can translate that data into actionable intelligence. Here are three of the best ways to turn social listening into social selling.

1. Provide Pre-Sales Support

Before a large or complex purchase, buyers turn to social media for answers, recommendations and advice from peers and influencers. Forbes analyst Daniel Newman highlights the selling power of timely listening at this crucial stage of the buyer’s journey.

Consider how a potential B2B buyer goes into a group on LinkedIn to discuss the pros and cons of a new software package,” Newman says. “If you are engaged in social listening you may have the chance to pull that interested buyer’s conversation and turn it into a dialogue with a sales engineer.”

Learn where your potential buyers seek buying advice and information, then listen for opportunities to insert yourself in the conversation.

2. Watch for Purchasing Signals

Hand in hand with pre-sales support, active social listening can provide new insights into exactly how prospective buyers in your market might enter the sales funnel. Specifically, what behaviors signal an imminent purchase?

What is the most recent content a buyer liked on LinkedIn? Did they comment on it or share the article with others? Did they engage with a tweet from an influencer that led to a purchasing landing page?

These are all questions that social listening can answer to help fill in the gaps in the buyer’s journey to make the top of the funnel as efficient as possible.

3. Double Down on Customer Support & Retention

Customer acquisition is a lot more costly than retention. It’s not the most glamorous or exciting element of social listening, but managing customer expectations and concerns is a powerful social selling tool that will help keep the lights on.

Many brands approach this aspect of social listening differently—from support teams that monitor social for obvious problems, to more proactive engagement teams. Buyer expectations have shifted, largely in part to how social the seller landscape has become. Prospects expect timely answers to questions and brands that actively listen are way ahead of the customer care curve than the rest. Not only does that mean higher customer retention and satisfaction—it also means more referrals from happy customers eager to recommend your solution to their social networks.

Define Your Goals, Then Listen Up

If you don’t know where your buyers come from or what they need, you’ll have a hard time pitching them your solution. Active social listening informs most of the early stages of the buyer’s journey, but it also provides opportunities for late stage customer retention and the chance to uncover new markets if you’re listening closely.

Create your online profile, find the social channels your buyers use, define your sales goals—then listen closely for ways to align them with your target market. If you’re listening and prepared, buyers will come to you.

Author, Jeff Zabin simply says, “Social listening means being able to create structure around unstructured data.” Once you’ve established that structure, everything else falls into place.

Download LinkedIn’s Professional Profile Kit, and get started creating the structure you need to make sense of the social media data that matters to your buyers.