It takes 7 to 13 touchpoints to turn a qualified lead into a buyer – and this isn’t news to anyone in the B2B space. This is where an employee advocacy program – specifically a program that focuses on your social selling initiatives – can be a prospect-nurturing game changer.
Why Social Selling?
Talk to any salesperson, and they’ll share countless war stories of their time spent sending emails, following up on phone calls, and scheduling meeting after meeting. They’ll also tell you that every touchpoint wasn’t necessarily welcomed by the prospect.
The more it feels like you’re interrupting a prospect’s workday, the harder it becomes to close that sale. Instead, brands need to incorporate non-interruptive outreach efforts to stay in front of prospects without clogging up an inbox or being sent to a voicemail.
An Employee Advocacy campaign built on Social Selling presents an opportunity to engage prospects, leads, and potential customers where they spend their time online – on social media.
We’ve updated this post with a few more tips and best practices for maximizing your social selling initiative in 2022.
What’s Employee Advocacy Again?
In an employee advocacy program, your employees are empowered to share and amplify your company’s content and marketing messages through the employee’s personal social networks. In general, your employees have an average of 10x more connections than your B2B brand’s social profile. By leveraging your employee networks, you can increase your brand visibility and content engagement while continuing to advocate for your brand without the constant need to “follow up on a quick call“.
Employee advocacy programs can support several initiatives including:
For this blog post, we’re going to focus on that last one
Does Employee Advocacy Work?
At the end of the day, purchase decisions come down to one factor: trust. Either the buyer trusts the company, the product, or the team to solve their problems. Employee advocacy programs help to build this all-so-critical trust factor. Employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR team, CEO, or key stakeholders (says the Edelman Trust Barometer).
This perception of trust has a large impact on content engagement. Content distributed by average employees are shared 24x more frequently than content shared by a brand. That same content also receives 8x more engagement than content shared by a brand.
That’s great, but does this extra engagement lead to more sales? Yes it does. Employee advocacy results in a 5x increase in web traffic and 25% more leads.
For social sellers specifically, employee advocacy can help drive significant gains. Sales teams that include social selling in their outreach efforts reach a 66% greater quota than those that rely solely on traditional prospecting and nurturing.
How to Drive Social Selling Though Employee Advocacy Marketing
Before you start, realize one simple truth: success from employee advocacy will not come if your employees are each randomly posting different blog posts or resources at different times sporadically throughout the year. To have an impact, your sales team needs to be consistent about what is being posted and when that content is hitting social feeds. As a best practice, you should manage your advocacy efforts using a platform designed specifically for this task (like SocialToaster).
Once an employee joins your advocacy program, they can easily link their social accounts to the platform. That way, when you have new content, your employees can simply click “Share” from their email and have that content auto-publish to their social feeds.
Your employees don’t have to worry about what the post says (as the brand sets that language), nor do they have to worry about getting the right link (the brand sets that too). Also, with the right platform, you can gamify your efforts, allowing employees to earn points and recognition for their social actions.
With the right platform, you can support not only your social selling initiatives, but a plethora of other critical marketing objectives, such as:
- Amplifying marketing content (without paying to promote posts)
- Improving employee retention (the more engaged an employee is with their organization, the lower the turnover rate)
- Promoting open job positions
- Completing quizzes and polls to better understand your employees and prospects
- Gathering insight from employees
- Learning best practices or challenges facing the business from those in the field
- Gathering user-generated content (UGC) from branded promotions, events, and community activities that showcase your business as a great place to work
The Most Effective Content for Your Sales Staff to Share
Program in place, it’s time to focus on what content your sales staff will be sharing. As your sales staff will be sharing content with an audience in various stages of the buying cycle (from researching to contract negotiation), your content mix should include a correlating mix of content. Key content topics include:
Third Party Content
Third-party content educates your prospect about your market space and common problems faced by other similar brands, often shared from industry publications, blogs, and websites.
Decision-making content helps educate your customer more about the specific solution your B2B brand provides; they are educational resources written by you for your key buying personas. Decision-making content typically takes the form of Ebooks, white papers, and product-focused blog posts.
Case Studies and Testimonials
The more faith a prospect has in your ability to solve their problem, the easier it is to close them as a customer. Case studies (that show actual results) and positive customer testimonials are powerful tools for communicating that you can live up to your promises.
Awards and New Customer Acquisitions
It might seem counterintuitive to brag about your company’s latest accomplishments but seeing your company’s growing success can alter your perceived place in the marketplace. As a rule of human behavior, people want to work with winners. Showing that your work is valued by others communicates that your brand is successful at what it does.
3 Best Practices to Nurture and Close Leads with Social Selling
Best Practice 1) Nurture Over The Entire Sales Cycle
The average B2B sales cycle is anywhere between 83 to 90 days. That’s a long time to keep a lead nurtured, engaged, and committed to closing the deal.
A traditional approach during this time is to have your sales team constantly email and call their lead to stay top of mind. While this does produce results, it can also annoy your leads.
As an alternative approach, having your sales team publish and share branded social selling content to their social channels can provide your team with an additional touchpoint
Best Practice 2) Mix in Decision-Marking Content
Many organizations use social selling to help build awareness of their organization and products, but social selling can also be used to distribute decision-making content.
- Case studies
- Product data sheets
- Features/Benefits documentation
- Product webinars
The goal is to publish a mix of content that engages your audience wherever they are in their buyer journey.
Best Practice 3) Ask For The Sale
Blog posts and explainer videos are critical components of a robust social selling strategy, but to drive real results, your content calendar needs to include sales-centric messaging.
In other words, create social posts that ask for demos, sales calls, and other sales-specific actions.
These posts could be topical in terms of a recent industry trend, global event, or seasonality (fiscal years), but the language should be tied to a lead taking some form of sales action.
Is Social Selling Just for Sales?
Short answer – absolutely not!
Sure, your sales team will be at the forefront of your social selling efforts, but they aren’t your only social selling resource!
Considering getting your other teams involved in your promotional efforts:
- Customer Support
Another Sales Touchpoint
An employee advocacy program gives your sales team another channel to develop relationships with their prospects through. Even better, it’s a channel that allows your prospects to interact back with your messaging keeping the gears of your prospecting efforts constantly turning.
Are you ready to take your social selling efforts to the next level? Schedule a free demo with SocialToaster today and learn how we can help.