Every social seller’s objective is to share the right content at the right time, in order to engage prospects and provide context that informs purchasing decisions. At any one time, a social seller must be aware of the latest company and industry developments, have a strong online profile that reflects their expertise, and share content that resonates with prospects as they move along the buyer’s journey.
Hubspot refers to this buyer’s journey in terms of three steps: awareness, consideration and decision. It’s a model that we will use here in order to explore the impact an employee advocacy program has on social sellers’ achievement of business objectives. We will look at how, by aggregating both company and third-party content, and organizing it according to specific topics, an employee advocacy platform makes it easier for sales teams to access content, and to share it in a reactive way – a way that ties in with, and therefore enhances, the buyer’s journey.
The first stage of the buyer’s journey is all about discovery. An increasing number of individuals use social media as a primary research channel; one in which they look for insightful, educational content that will help them better understand a problem or challenge within a given sector, and pinpoint their own needs.
The types of content buyers look for at this stage include vendor-neutral industry reports, editorial blogs, and data-rich infographics. Their aim is not yet to choose a product, but rather to understand the current landscape through valuable content. As far as social sellers are concerned, the goal is to be the ones who provide this content, and as such who grab prospects’ attention.
So how does employee advocacy help them to do this? Firstly, by facilitating access to relevant content. On platforms like Sociabble, content is aggregated from company feeds as well as curation tools, and organized into themed channels that correspond to social selling topics. This saves sales teams time looking for relevant content online, while the fact that they demonstrate thought leadership by sharing industry insights means they put themselves on the map as experts in the field.
The buyer now knows what they need, and is out to explore the market. Their search is therefore more focused on solution-oriented content; now that they understand the landscape, they want to get to know and compare available vendors. They want to understand how each provider positions itself, and whether or not this positioning makes the company a good fit for them.
The advantage of employee advocacy is that because it’s easy for sales teams to develop thought leadership by sharing content, they develop a presence and are already highly visible. A prospect is far more likely to engage with a sales professional who shares industry insights, and who shows up on their radar during initial research.
And again, the organization of social selling content on an employee advocacy platform is key here. In addition to channels that focus on 'beginning of the funnel' topics, companies can create 'Product Offer' channels that aggregate branded white papers, webcasts, videos, and other content that makes it easy for sales teams to present the company and showcase added value.
At this stage the buyer has visited several vendors’ websites, consumed a great deal of content, and most probably has a shortlist. They will also have criteria that will help them to make the final decision. As far as social sellers are concerned, the content that will help seal the deal at this late stage includes product-specific presentations and publications, benchmarks and, of course, case studies.
A well-organized employee advocacy platform makes it easy for sales teams to access and share such 'closing' content. Meanwhile, the fact that it also allows them to demonstrate thought leadership from the outset makes the difficult task of closing deals that little bit easier; social sellers who demonstrate industry awareness as well as product-specific expertise have a significant competitive advantage over their peers.
A social seller’s job is to convey their company’s position on the market, while at the same time demonstrating individual expertise. Employee advocacy gives sales teams an easy way of accessing relevant content that is published by their company, but also by other industry experts, and to share that content according to whether prospects are at the awareness, consideration or decision-making stage of their journey.
As for companies, employee advocacy allows them to demonstrate that they don’t just make great products, but that as an organization they are made up of individuals who really know their stuff. This has a huge influence on sales success because, at the end of the day, it’s individuals with whom prospects want to do business.