Social selling first gained popularity with the proliferation of social media use more than a decade ago. In 2014, research from IDC revealed that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level/vice president executives used social media to make purchase decisions. One year later, 74% of business buyers reported in a Forrester study that they conduct more than half of their research online before they make a purchase offline.
Fast forward to today, and social selling is even more critical for companies to reach their sales and revenue goals. According to LinkedIn, social selling leaders generate 45% more sales opportunities and are 51% more likely to reach their sales quotas. In fact, 78% of companies that use social selling outperform companies that do not use social selling.
The data shows that social selling has become a fundamental part of a company’s sales strategy. With that in mind, B2B companies selling products and services in the cannabis industry should prioritize social selling.
What is Social Selling and What are the Benefits?
Social selling involves connecting with potential customers through social media platforms to directly and/or indirectly sell a company’s products and services. Notice that social selling includes both directly and indirectly selling. This is extremely important.
Direct sales outreach via social media channels is just one part of social selling. As a salesperson, indirect social selling comes first – always. The reason is simple. Social selling is a long-term strategy. It’s not about closing deals instantly – after a single contact.
The most effective social selling begins with relationship-building – making connections with the right people, sharing useful information, communicating without promoting, and proving you’re a valuable resource. Direct selling via a social media channel should happen after the relationship has been established and you’ve determined that the person is a good fit for your product or service.
Social selling will help you find more leads and sales opportunities and determine which are the best leads to focus your time on. When it’s fully integrated with your other sales efforts and marketing initiatives, you’ll undoubtedly close more deals. In addition, social selling provides opportunities for you to build your brand and your personal reputation as a thought leader.
Tips to Create Your B2B Social Selling Strategy for the Cannabis Industry
Social selling doesn’t have to take up a significant amount of time every day to be successful. You just need a strategy designed to help you reach realistic, achievable goals. No, you’re not going to reach out to someone on LinkedIn, tell them about your amazing product, and get an instant reply saying they’re ready to buy. In fact, the higher the price or longer the sales cycle is for your product or service, the less likely you are to get a positive response to direct sales outreach messages via social media.
Therefore, you need a strategy that identifies the specific audiences you want to target, which social media channels you’ll invest your efforts into, and how your investments will lead to your specific goals, which could be to increase the number of sales leads, to move leads to the next stage of the funnel, to increase inbound sales inquiries, to increase demos, trials or sales, and so on.
Once you’ve identified your strategy, you can develop a plan to implement the strategy and achieve the goals you’ve set. That’s where the Cannabiz Media License Database comes into the picture. Using the leading source of verified cannabis and hemp license holders in the United States, Canada, and international territories, you can determine exactly who your best target audience is and set goals and tasks to connect with and sell to that audience.
Since direct links to contacts’ social media profiles and pages are included within records where the data is available, you can connect with leads across social media platforms without leaving the Cannabiz Media License Database!
Best Practices for B2B Social Selling
To be successful at social selling, you need a plan. However, your plan must take into account current best practices for B2B social selling or your efforts won’t work. Following are some of the most important B2B social selling best practices to keep in mind.
Find Your Target Audience
The first step to executing your social selling plan is to make sure you’re spending time trying to connect and communicate with the right audience. In the past, salespeople had to manually search through social media platforms to try to find B2B leads in the cannabis industry, but the Cannabiz Media License Database changed that.
Today, subscribers to the License Database can find their target audience on social media by using the search filters available to them. For example, you can search the License Database for active cannabis dispensary license holders in the United States with LinkedIn Profiles and get a list of people who match that criteria. The link to each person’s LinkedIn Profile will be included in the contact’s record, so you can click and connect. It saves so much time and effort!
Listen and Learn
Once you know who your target audience is, you need to listen to them and learn what’s important to them. That’s how you’ll know what kind of content to share and communications to start. It’s critical that your content and communications are highly relevant to your target audience or they won’t pay attention to you.
In the past, the only way to get this information was by analyzing the kind of content and conversations your target audience actively engaged with on each social media platform. The process is better, easier, and faster today with the Cannabiz Media License Database. Now, you can gather more engagement data from the communications and email marketing campaigns you send to your target audience using the email marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) tools in the License Database.
For example, you can track the topics your target audience engages with based on the email marketing campaigns from you that they’ve opened and the links they’ve clicked in those messages. You can use lead scoring to determine which leads are marketing qualified or sales qualified. With that information, you’ll know which leads to continue nurturing by sharing content and joining conversations across social media platforms and which leads are ready for a direct outreach message via social media, email, or a phone call.
Share First, Sell Later
Social selling starts with socializing first and selling later – after you’ve built a relationship and determined a lead is sales qualified and ready to receive a sales outreach message or call. If you sell first on social media platforms, you’ll be ignored at best and called a spammer at worst – neither will lead to the results you want.
Start by positioning yourself as a trust source, a thought leader, and an expert. Answer questions, share useful information, comment on content others share, and be active in groups and communities where your target audience spends time.
Before you start sharing content, publishing posts, and commenting on other people’s posts across social media channels, take the time to optimize your own social media profiles. Include your photo, company, job title, and experience to establish credibility. In addition, make sure your company has a presence on the most popular social media channels at a minimum (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube). This is critical because it shows you work for a real, verifiable company. You want it to be as easy as possible for people to confirm your expertise and credentials.
Engage and Build Relationships
To build relationships, you have to be authentic in your social media communications. People can quickly spot a salesperson who is biding their time to pitch their product or service. Yes, you want to close a sale, but for social selling to work, you have to prioritize relationships over sales. You have to be patient and only make the pitch when the time is right. It takes time, but the results are worth it.
Think of it this way, most B2B sales decisions require input from multiple people. No one wants to make the wrong decision and put their career in jeopardy. With so much effort happening on the buyer’s side to make a purchase, it shouldn’t be surprising that a lot of effort is required on the seller’s side too.
If you build a relationship in advance, many of the obstacles to making a purchase decision will already be overcome when a buyer gets to the later stages of the buyer journey. Since you already have a relationship thanks to your social media efforts, the buyer will already trust you, believe you’re an expert, and know you can help them.
With that said, you can enhance your relationship by learning everything possible about your prospects. Use insights from your social media engagement as well as data from the Cannabiz Media License Database to enhance and strengthen relationships with your prospects, and the sales process will become more streamlined, effective, and successful.
For example, track the email marketing campaigns your prospects open to better understand their interests, and set up notification alerts when prospects appear in the news. A relevant piece of news about a company, state, or local municipality could be a perfect topic for personalized outreach to a hot prospect.
Key Takeaways about B2B Social Selling in the Cannabis Industry
B2B social selling is a long-term strategy that prioritizes building relationships, so when it’s the right time to implement short-term tactics to jumpstart sales, your target social media audience is receptive to direct sales communications. Just like with email marketing, you need to nurture before you try to sell and meet people where they are in the buyer journey. Avoid trying to move too quickly, and you’ll have a much better chance of increasing closed deals.
Want to see how a subscription to the Cannabiz Media License Database can help you close more deals and improve your social selling? Schedule a demo to see it in action.