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  • Aleksander Mitrovic

Social Selling: Why Telephone Acquisition Isn't a Sales Task

There is a widespread misunderstanding about who is responsible for sales. Many employees spend several hours a week acquiring customers over the phone. It's not the sales team's job to generate leads - but to build contacts with buyers who are already interested. This is not the only reason companies should spare their salespeople from phone acquisition. A more effective way to get your offer to the customer is through social selling.

Cold calling is not exactly a pleasant activity: employees have to put up with numerous rejections before they can win over a prospect. This is anything but conducive to sales success, as one no after another demotivates even the most passionate salesperson. Yet the main task of sales is a different one: taking care of new and existing customers. This means convincing prospective customers and advising existing customers. A central factor here is the employee himself. As important as facts and figures are, if the salesperson fails to connect with the potential customer, the deal is a long way off.

Lead generation is the task of marketing

To keep salespeople motivated, others should provide a steady supply of leads - ideally the marketing department. Before sales reaches out to prospects in person, they go through a multi-step process: lead qualification. For example, they look around the website a few times, download a whitepaper, and leave their contact information in return. Only then is the right time to pass the leads on to sales. In practice, however, there is often a lack of resources. The marketing team has neither the time nor the know-how to design large-scale lead-nurturing campaigns. But instead of switching to phone acquisition, it's more productive for an employee to become familiar with the social selling method.

Direct contact via social media

Social selling is an effective way to generate leads. Unlike cold calling, the prospect determines when to contact you. As a result, he is more open and more likely to respond to the offer. Here is how "social selling" works: you research potential prospects on LinkedIn. The task is to get their attention in a sequence of direct messages - and turn them into leads. With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, the platform offer special, chargeable tool for this purpose. An advanced search function, for example, makes it possible to find the right decision-makers in companies of a certain industry, size and region. Once the employee has found a suitable profile, he or she sends a contact request to network with the person. This person now has the opportunity to take a first look at the company. If the person belongs to the target group, chances are good that they will accept the contact request. The more challenging part follows: targeted messages should arouse interest in buying.

Every communication situation has its rules

Writing messages that create a need and do not come across as heavy-handed is an art. Most salespeople are linguistically adept - at least when it comes to verbal interaction. In a face-to-face conversation, there is a certain closeness from the start. The participants focus their thoughts on the same thing in a common place at the same time. In a written conversation, on the other hand, it is important to be clear and concise. There is a distance in space and time between the sender and the receiver. This makes it much more difficult to motivate the latter to respond. In oral discussions, social convention demands that participants listen to each other and respond to what is being said. Simply hanging up on a phone call is considered rude. There is no norm that requires you to respond to a stranger's Messenger message.

To successfully engage in social selling, you must be aware of the rules of the written medium. Communicate in a focused and benefit-oriented way. When composing the messages, it is important to put yourself in the position of the potential prospect. Every message has a clear purpose. The first message should only be about getting attention to the topic. This works best with an open question, a W-question that starts with "How?" or why?" begins and cannot simply be answered with "yes" or "no". In this way, the interested party deals with the topic for at least a moment. In the second message it becomes more specific. The company and the solution are presented in a few clear sentences. The advantages for the potential customer should be placed in the foreground. For example, he is not interested in the features of the platform. Rather, the message should give an impression of how the customer can benefit in their day-to-day work. If the product is relevant for the target person, their interest is now aroused.

Another message suggests making a non-binding phone call. If the person agrees, the social selling process was successful. The employee can hand over the lead to the sales colleagues. If the person does not react, they will receive one last message for the time being. In this, the employee kindly expresses his regret that the person is currently unable to deal with the topic and wishes her all the best.

This has the following psychological effect: the other person has the feeling that the offer that is of interest to him is being withdrawn again. To prevent this from happening, the person eventually answers.

Create a technical basis

Used skillfully, social selling is a highly effective lead generation method. Smooth internal processes are required to convert contacts into customers. For example, once a won lead has agreed to a phone call, the sales rep now in charge needs to receive that information reliably. This is a challenge for many small and medium-sized companies that work without a CRM system. A common technical basis has also become essential for other reasons: In times of pandemics, trade shows have changed from physical to hybrid or purely digital events. In addition, distributed working in a home office is becoming more and more prevalent. Mapping marketing and sales processes efficiently is therefore an important strategic task for companies. For example, it must be precisely defined when a contact is sent to sales and what further steps are to be taken. These processes can be standardized and automated with a CRM system. In this way, fewer contacts are given away and systematic controlling makes it possible to measure the success of sales measures. Companies can use this database to flexibly adapt their sales strategy.

Pull instead of push principle

Customer acquisition in the B2B environment works best when you think empathetically and consistently focus on the pain points of the decision maker in question. The push character of a cold call literally pushes him away, while the pull character of written messages takes him by the hand in a friendly way. The power to act lies with the other person and his superior position is preserved. In reality, it is not so superior because: The person faces a challenge and benefits from finding a good solution. The principle of social selling is to politely guide the decision maker to this knowledge.

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