Social selling in healthcare takes time but is worth the wait

“Take the selling out of ‘social selling’ and just call it social networking. It’s a long-term play.”
By Cari McLean
09:56 AM
chat bubble, social media

Kemp Edmonds, Lead Solutions Consultant at Hootsuite Media, says it's time to get real about social selling and call it what it really is: social networking. Social media is long-term relationship building tool and not a tool to make sales. It's a tool to build relationships with individuals, people and brands.

So, why do most B2B companies continue to sell?

That's because social networking effectively is hard and takes time. In this interview and during an upcoming webinar, Kemp and I discuss how to deploy the right combination of people, platform and process to take your social selling tactics up a notch in 2016.

What's the next step for most companies' social selling strategies?

We really have to move away from social marketing. It's not social selling to tell people about a webinar, pushing them to a form and hoping they fill it out. That's really more social marketing. Today, it's about Social Selling 1.0 and 2.0.

Social selling 1.0 is where people are listening for buying signals or people's needs. We are starting to move into social prospecting, where it's more digging and finding information about people, then establishing relationships via positive networking--connecting for future mutual benefit.

What we should be doing is finding those people that are going to be influencers in the health IT buying decisions and building relationships with them – retweet their content and comment on what they post on LinkedIn.

Social selling 2.0 is having your sales team empowered and educated about what it means to provide value, be helpful and do positive networking through social media. You want to position yourself as a solution expert and the person who's looking to understand the challenges of customers and work to solve those problems. Whether it's in 140 characters or in a white paper or in a webinar – there's a lot of opportunities to provide value ahead of larger sales that happen in the health IT space.

How does social engagement translate into business?

I parallel it to traditional means – email, phone calls, going to conferences, going to networking events. When we look at the effectiveness of those practices, we don't scrutinize them at quite the same rate that we do new mediums like social. And I think if we looked at them with the same critical eye on resources and value, we'd probably go to fewer conferences and might make less calls.

It's important to put it in that context, and look at it as a long-term relationship building tool. Social media is not a tool to sell. It's a tool to build relationships with individuals, with people and with brands.

How do you identify buying signals in B2B?

It's really hard because a true professional in a B2B environment isn't going onto Twitter and talking about how they need a six figure, seven figure database software set. They're more generally sharing their pain points or sharing links or content to things that show you what they like and what matters to them.

If you're selling eyeglasses or cars or insurance, there are definitely consumers talking about buying those things. But in the B2B space, it's more about connecting with people, building long-term relationships and really being top of mind.  

How can a company move forward with a solid social strategy?

It's all a question of human resources. But we see in the three stage of social selling from social marketing to social prospecting is you ultimately want to have a specialized member of your team who manages this for your organization.

Generally that's somebody who is not a sales person. They might be a lead developer, a marketing person or a community manager. And you're giving that person a strategy to say this is what we want you to do.

Join us at the webinar to learn what tactics and tools to have in place and how to leverage social media to grow awareness, educate and nurture authentic relationships with buyers.