What is the typical length of sales cycles?
According to this study, sales cycles length of B2B companies is 102 days so about 3 months and half.
When you look deeper, the study says that:
- it takes on average 84 days to go from lead to opportunity
- it takes on average 18 days to go from opportunity to close
Obviously, sales cycles are different depending on your industry but basically, the more expensive your offer, the longer it takes to go from cold prospect to deal closed.
My point is that it takes time to close new customers. So your goal as a SDR, BDR or co-founder in charge of sales is to find ways to speed up the process so you can generate revenues faster.
What is the purpose of Social Selling?
Social selling is a way to do sales prospecting with the use of social media. Social selling all about building more B2B relationships with your prospects.
Social selling is also a good way to stay top of mind and to be able to make sales in the long run. You can see this Twitter thread written by Ana, one of our paying customers for example.
" The takeaway:
— Start building connections on social right now. — You won't get instant conversions. But as soon as your contacts face the problem you're solving they'll think of you You'll be on top of their mind You'll outplay all big brands
Because people buy from people"
Why Social Selling can accelerate your sales pipeline
Pipeline acceleration is a set of marketing strategies to move prospects faster in the sales funnel until they become paying customers.
Who do you think will buy faster your solution? The prospect who barely knows you or the one who usually reply to your comments under his/her posts, who talk with you in DMs and with whom you got a call at some point. I think the answer is obvious.
As social selling is all about building relationships faster, you'll move your prospects faster in your sales funnel which result ultimately in a sales pipeline acceleration.
Example of sales pipeline acceleration with social selling (how I do it)
In this example, we'll see how you can accelerate your sales cycle at every single stage of the customer journey of your prospect: from cold prospect to closed deal where retention exists and where existing clients do word of mouth.
Whatever your sales funnel, the life of any prospect will go through these different phases:
- cold prospect (lead generation phase)
- engaged prospect
- warm prospect (beginning of the closing deal phase)
- newly closed customer (beginning of the retention phase)
- happy customer (word of mouth phase)
- lost customer
Some people may or may not disagree with the above but I'm trying to keep things simple to showcase this social selling strategy.
1/ Sales pipeline acceleration with social selling at the lead generation phase
To accelerate the sales pipeline during this stage with social selling, we'll need to engage prospects (1) before sending them a cold DM or cold email (2) unless they contacted us first (3).
Step 1: engage with prospects via LinkedIn & Twitter before reaching out (also known as social warming)
If people know you, they'll respond to your cold email or cold direct message. In that case, we talk about a warm email or a warm direct messages.
Liking and commenting 1 LinkedIn post of your prospect can make a huge difference when it comes to generating leads.
For that, I use Breakcold to engage faster with prospects.
Step 2: send a cold DM or cold email to the prospect
Once you've engaged with the prospect, use the posts you interacted with to craft a personalized cold email or DM.
Step 3: don't execute step 2 if prospects contact you by themselves
Most of the times (I'd say 50% of the time), you won't even have to contact prospects if you interacted with their posts more than once (usually 5 to 12 times from my own personal experience).
Most people will naturally start the conversation after you left many comments under their posts. They might also check automatically your solution.
2/ Sales pipeline acceleration with social selling at the warm prospect phase (the deal is not closed)
At this phase, it's assumed that the prospect has sign-up to your product or service to try it. Depending on your offer, you might had already a call with them.
This is how you can use social selling to speed up the this sales pipeline stage.
Step 1: add your warm leads to your social selling pipeline
Why is a social selling pipeline useful? Because it's basically a Sales CRM but when you open the lead profile, it will populate the news of your prospects on social media for you to engage with?
Step 2: assign them a contract value, a status and a tag
If you're using an integration, you won't have to do this step but otherwise adding a contract value, a status and a tag will help you stay organize like you would be in a traditional sales pipeline.
Step 3: take the time to connect their company account
In most cases, you won't have the company URL of your prospect (LinkedIn one or Twitter one) in your database. You'll have to add the URL manually in the company fields if your prospects.
This little extra effort worth it to have as much as information about what's going on in their organization to contact them in a better way.
Step 4: every day, check if your prospect has any news on socials and engage with it
Scroll your prospecting feed or use the social selling pipeline.
3/ Sales pipeline acceleration with social selling at the retention phase (the deal is closed)
At this stage, you've won the deal but the hardest part begins: customer retention. Whether you're an agency or a startup, you probably have a monthly based subscription if you've optimized your pricing plans. Retention is key for any businesses, even for brick-and-mortar business where it's a little bit different (they're talking about repeat business).
According to Profitwell, retention is way more important than acquisition. You need to avoid churn at all costs because if you don't it will ultimately have a negative impact on your growth rate.
This is where social selling can help you the following process.
Step 1: you move closed customers in the social selling pipeline
To move warm prospects in the closed lead stage, just drag and drop the leads in the right sales stage.
Step 2: take news about prospects with the use of the 4 catch-up method
it's a basic technique I've created for ourselves when we started to have retention problem. Sometimes, email sequences are not enough to nurture your customers, you need to catch up manually and correctly.
For that, I created the 4 catch-up method.
Basically, I assign tags to my prospects from catch up 1 to catch-up 4. My goal is to check on them every two weeks if they're doing ok and if they're satisfied with the software.
It's also the occasion to create a deeper bond with them, creating a feedback loop and increasing trust into our solution. It's a great brand booster too as customer experience is probably the most differentiator these days.
Step 3: you engage with their LinkedIn posts and tweets when you see them in your prospecting feed
As usual, bond with closed customers with your prospecting feed for the most active customers or check them individually with the lead view.
4/ Sales pipeline acceleration with social selling beyond the retention phase
Ok, you've now turn cold prospects into paying customers thanks to social selling. You also managed to put in place a great feedback loop and process to retain them.
You need to ask for referrals. Word of mouth is the most powerful growth engine but it won't happen by itself, you need to provoke it. Even if you do have an affiliate program for example, you need to actively put it in front of your clients.
To ask for referral, it's pretty simple.
Step 1: go to your sales pipeline and look at your closed customers
You can also look for a specific customer with a simple CTRL-F.
Step 2: filter them by the ones who have been catch-up 4 times
According to the 4 catch-up strategy above, you want to contact people who are already super encline with you and your product/service, kind of super fans.
The people who reach the 4th catch-up stage are generally the ones in that bucket as it means they're really involved in what you're selling.
Step 3: manually contact them to ask for 2 people that you could reach out on their behalf
Send them a LinkedIn message / Twitter DM or the platform they prefer and ask them for a referral.
2 people is ideal, imagine if 1 super fan customer brings you 2 more, that would be excellent.
Step 4: repeat the process when you have new people who reach the 4th catch-up phase
Every time someone gets to the 4th catch-up stage, repeat the process.
5/ Bonus: social selling strategy for lost customers
Some customers will churn because they have to (no longer need your product at this moment, will cut you for 1 month during some holiday, will go out of business). That is call endemic churn.
This kind of churned customers can be win back in the future, it's your duty to stay to of mind until then.