Social selling in B2B is no longer a novel concept. LinkedIn statistics show that 78% of social sellers outsell professionals who don’t use this medium to engage with their prospects and have a higher chance of reaching their quota. However, new social selling technology has evolved and now has the potential to disrupt social selling strategy and techniques, as well as companies that are not quick to adapt to the digital sales environment.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now penetrating every aspect of B2B sales, including social selling. To figure out how it can increase the chances of social sellers to succeed, let’s first take a look at how social selling works.
Social Selling Before AI
Best practices on social selling advise a classic sequence of activities: social sellers pick their targets, try to connect with them and then try to interact by leaving unsolicited validation (commenting, liking their content) to build rapport. Subsequently, after creating a relationship, they then try to pitch their product.
But the truth is reps are not closing million dollar deals by simply chatting on Facebook with prospects.. Even if you’re selling through LinkedIn, it’s an uphill battle.
The good news is, the odds of connecting with decision makers and accelerating the sales process by social selling , no matter how you do it–are on your side:
- 86% of IT buyers now use social media to make technology decisions (IDG)
- Buyers using social media are more senior and have larger budgets than buyers who don’t use social (IDC)
- 53% of buyers using social media to assess new tools and technologies (Harvard Business Review)
Social media, when used properly, can influence deals.
Predictive Social Selling – The New Way of Selling
We’re talking about predictive social selling: using Artificial Intelligence to automate some of the manual and routine tasks of social selling so you can reach more targets, faster, and get the right information that is likely to influence their purchasing decision.
AI can tap into the billions of data points collected from your database, as well as the social networks and external crowdsourced data, to make highly accurate predictions about your social buyers.
How to Win at Social Selling Using AI
As I have noted before, a comprehensive sales cadence tool must incorporate social prospecting into a seller’s daily activities. But chatting up random people on social networks isn’t likely to get you any business results.
There are a few things successful social sellers do to close deals, and a few ways that AI can power up your game on social media.
Get to The Right Leads Faster
Choosing the right target to connect with is arguably the most important step in the sales process, and the one that can make or break your sale.
Artificial Intelligence analyzes billions of data points from multiple sources, while sifting through social signals, to determine who you should contact and when and how you should engage (i.e., your prospect might be active on Twitter but not LinkedIn– AI can guide you instantly to the right medium).
Another use case for predictive social selling is accurately forecasting when sales opportunities will close, if they close. This allows sales representatives to focus on the right accounts and opportunities, so they don’t waste time on deals that might never close.
This score is useful to manage opportunities from conversion to close, prompting reps to take the right steps to making progress on a deal.
Increase The Chance to Connect on Social Media
Once you’ve identified the right prospects, you need to connect with them. But how do you convince someone that you are worth their time? This is where a mutual connection or referral can come in handy: Harvard Business Review states that 84% of B2B buyers begin the buying process with a referral, and over 90% of purchase decisions are influenced by peer recommendations.
Artificial Intelligence can analyze your entire social network to uncover mutual connections or even more distant connections that could recommend you or introduce you to your prospect. This can increase your connect rates up to 3X.
Help Personalize Content to Persona
Personalization is required in most sales motions, as research shows 67% of buyers are influenced to accept a meeting if they see content 100% customized to their specific situation and see it as valuable for making a purchasing decision. But that’s not easy to do– the average B2B deal has around 6.8 decision-makers, and each will have their own pain point and need for their role.
AI can help personalize the outreach to each persona with customized templates for different products, verticals or personas.
Once you’ve connected with your prospect on social media, you need to create a connection by using common interests. But spending too much time finding this information is bogging down activity in sales teams around the world.
An intelligent predictive social selling system can alert you to commonalities between you and your prospect, so you can have a brilliant starting line.
AI can also watch for relevant developments with your target on social: a recent job change, a company capital infusion, or a company acquisition are all announcements on social media that can make or break your deal.
Find New Leads With Lead Recommendations
Last but not least, a good AI sales tool continually learns from the data it analyzes and evolves over time to get you new sales opportunities. By analyzing past interactions and sales transactions that were influenced by social events, AI learns the patterns of success and recommends new leads, similar to your ideal buyer profile.
Social media is ripe ground for salespeople– but the evolution of social selling technology will weed out the winners from the losers.
Looking to learn how sales and marketing teams can implement Artificial Intelligence into their strategies? Register for the AI Growth Summit. 30+ speakers from top companies will demonstrate the real impact of AI on business growth.