How do social selling processes work in B2B?

b2b linkedin sales socialselling Jan 04, 2023
social selling procesess

The processes using LinkedIn differ from traditional prospecting processes, in which the first contact with the customer is the telephone. In the case of social selling, we are dealing with a "seeding" strategy, the effects of which may be visible after some time and as a result of regular actions of salespeople.

Social selling processes function differently than traditional prospecting processes. In the second case, the salesperson gets feedback in the conversation (ie, "I am not / I am interested”). 

The processes using LinkedIn include the nursing phase of customers until they are ready to buy. So it is safe to not only assume that more time is needed, but also that we will not always get a response right after sending the message. This can be because the customer, for example, does not need to answer due to the lack of a purchasing process on his part. But that doesn't mean he won't have a need for it in a moment. This is where the potential of the snowball begins. If we take into account that we have, for example, 1000, 3000, or 5000 people in the network from the target group, we are in contact with them, we regularly publish content that supports them in their purchasing processes and we are with them behind the head of entire purchasing committees, we are dealing with the use of the potential offered by LinkedIn in sales.

What prospecting problems are B2B companies currently facing?

Prospecting is getting more and more difficult. Why? Currently, customers do not want to meet salespeople if they do not have a purchasing process in their plan and do not see any specific value for it presently. Most of them do not like cold calls, and a large part of the customer's shopping journey takes place without contact with a salesperson and is largely digital. This is due to the fact that today customers have access to information on the Internet that was previously provided to them by a salesperson at a meeting. This does not mean that they want to give up human contact. They want to be in touch with a salesperson who provides expert value. 


  • 60% of people do not want to use the services of a sales representative at the beginning of their search (Forrester, 2017),
  • 68% do research online on their own (Forrester, 2017),
  • 62% say that by relying only on content from the Internet, they are able to develop selection criteria and create a list of sellers they are interested in (Forrester, 2017),
  • customers spend only 17% of the time from the entire purchasing process on meetings with suppliers / salespeople. If a customer compares several suppliers, the time spent with one sales representative may only be approx. 5-6%,
  • 45% Customers spend 45% of the time in the process on-line. (Gartner, 2019)
How does social selling respond to the current difficulties in prospecting?

Salespeople who take into account the digital world in their search for clients will search online forums, discussion groups and have a well-prepared profile on LinkedIn. They not only have a network of contacts, but also work to constantly expand that network with a target group. Additionally, they publish content while building their image and stay in touch on LinkedIn in order to gain an advantage over their digital colleagues. Primarily, they are where their customers are increasingly present — they are more visible and associated (as experts) with a specific service or product and thus build credibility in the eyes of potential customers. They have greater control over the processes on their side as well as over the customer's purchasing processes. 

The new normal for sales:
Today’s business buyer controls the buying process more than today’s seller controls the selling process.  

(Forrester, 2017)

What does the social selling process look like?

The social selling processes can be divided into three phases (from a birds-eye view):

Phase 1 - building the target group
Continuous activities aimed at building a network of contacts consisting of the target group; inviting the contacts resulting from the various activities to join the network, often preceded by appropriate digital preparation,but not only those resulting from prospecting on LinkedIn. We can invite potential customers to the network as a result of telephone calls, fairs, webinars, networking, etc.
Phase 2 - nurturing contacts until ready to buy
The target group in our network is the so-called "working" contacts, those who we remind of ourselves in a non-pushy way through our image-building activities on LinkedIn. By publishing among other content that supports the contacts’ purchasing paths, we gain an advantage over the competition that does not take such action. Additionally, by being in private contact, we have access to information about ongoing processes. We nurture and build relationships in order to be at the "top of the mind" at the moment the purchasing process on the customer's side is activated. If such activities take place with all or part of the purchasing committee, we maximize the chance of entering and winning the sales process.
Phase 3 - moving on to talks about planned or ongoing purchasing processes
Moving on to talks about specifics can take place as a result of two actions:

  1. Active social selling (outbound social selling)
    We come across the current or planned purchasing process or the need as a result of the messages sent.
  2. Activities aimed at attracting customers (inbound social selling)
    The client comes to us as a result of image-building activities and / or a professionally prepared profile on LinkedIn.

The next step in the process is going into an off-line relationship (ie, a phone call or a meeting, depending on the existing sales processes in the company and the customer's mood). 

In the process described above, LinkedIn cannot operate in isolation from other commercial activities. It is part of the sales process and supplements the merchant's inbox with a new tool to reach the customer. As in any sales activity, statistics also work in social selling. In order to bring about regular results, there must be regular activity on the part of salespeople. Leads from social media do not take off on their own 

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