By Christina Newberry

Social selling: by now you’ve certainly heard of it, but you may not be entirely sure what it means. Is it the same as social media marketing? (No.) What about social media advertising? (Nope, that’s something else altogether.) So just what is social selling? Is it simply one more digital buzzword soon to be relegated to the virtual dustbin of 2016?

With sales professionals who have incorporated social selling into their sales process way outperforming those stuck in the pre-social sales funnel (we’ve got the statistics to prove it below), social selling may be a buzzword, but it’s in absolutely no danger of being tossed away.

Instead, it’s an important new approach to selling that allows salespeople to laser-target their prospecting, establish rapport and trust through existing connections and networks, and possibly even ditch the dreaded practice of making cold calls.

According to “Social Selling: A New B2B Imperative,” a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Hootsuite in May 2017, organizations see promise in formalizing their approach to social selling. Forrester surveyed 265 sales and marketing leaders for the study and found that “49 percent of B2B enterprises have developed a formal social selling program, and 28 percent are in the process of doing so.”

In fact, only two percent of survey respondents said they had no plans to establish their own programs.

If you have not yet incorporated social selling into your business, you’re likely already losing sales to your more socially savvy peers.

What is social selling?

Social selling is the art of using social networks to find, connect with, understand, and nurture sales prospects. It’s the modern way to develop meaningful relationships with potential customers that keep you—and your brand—front of mind, so you’re the natural first point of contact when a prospect is ready to buy.

It’s quite simply using online social tools to engage in the relationship-building strategies that have always been the foundation of what good sales professionals do.

If you have a Facebook Business Page, LinkedIn profile, or professional Twitter account, you’re already engaged in the basics of social selling—even if you’ve never actually used the term to describe your online activities, or thought all that much about exactly what social selling really means.

Take Hootsuite Academy’s Social Selling Course and learn how to find leads and drive sales with social media.

Perhaps equally important to explaining what social selling means is to explain what social selling is not. It’s certainly not about bombarding strangers with unsolicited Tweets and private messages. There’s a name for that: spam. And you shouldn’t do it.

Social selling is not just about gaining access to contacts but about building relationships and strategically listening for the right moment to join the conversation so you can present yourself as a solution to a current problem, addressing a pressing need to make your prospect’s life easier rather than becoming just another irritant to swipe and delete.

Find out how B2B Enterprise embrace the rise of socialselling to generate revenue