The Difference between Social Selling and Social Business


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I often hear the phrases social selling and social business used in the same sentence as if they are the exact same thing. Much like the close relationship of inbound marketing and content marketing, one would not exist without the other, and one is a subset of another as well. I know, sort of confusing. Let me explain.

What is Social Selling?

It’s a subset of social business focused on positioning front line employees to build their reputations and networks, gather insights, and engage with prospects and customers.

Why so much focus on Social Selling?

A study by Aberdeen found that teams who use social selling achieve quota 31% more often than teams who don’t use it. Now I do want to say that it’s not that phone calls and in-personsocial-business-vs-social-selling meetings are obsolete. What’s really happening is that people are using more channels to meet, stay in touch, and gather information. In fact, found that when using a combination of LinkedIn InMails, phone calls, and e-mails, the response rate is 10% higher.

Then there comes the notion of network access and visibility. According to Sales Benchmark Index, approx. 84% of complex B2B deals start with a referral. It’s easier than ever to get introduced through your social networks.

Lastly, teams who use social selling tools and techniques are most efficient and provide better personalization to their prospect and customer relationships. Effective use of sales intelligence increases sales productivity by 17% per rep (CSO insights), and 86% of buyers would engage with sales professionals if they provided insights and knowledge about the industry.

What is Social Business?

It’s a company-wide movement that breaks down silos, increases knowledge sharing internally, as well as enables every single employee to speak on behalf of the brand. Basically every single department needs to work together for an optimal social business.

Below is a list of business functions that will have social embedded into them:

  • Branded social marketing
  • User generated content management
  • Employee advocacy
  • Influencer outreach
  • Internal comms
  • Executive comms
  • Crisis Communications
  • Social Selling
Customer Service
  • Social customer support
  • Social recruiting
  • Employment branding
  • Social media policies and guidelines
  • Internal social networks
  • Platforms that support company external communications
Procurement & Finance
  • Approving third party technologies and staffing
  • Policies and guidelines
  • Data privacy for third party platforms

As you can see, social selling is a very small slice out of the social business pie. For a B2B organization, social selling is EXTREMELY important, but in order to get to where you want to go with social business, you also have to focus on the big picture. It’s not an overnight change, but a journey.

Good luck in your social business journey, and do let me know how you think your company is doing in relation to what I spoke about in this blog post.

About the author: Nick Robinson is a lover of all things analytics and digital. He has a strong background in web development, marketing, and entrepreneurship. His professional experience with the web dates back to 1997 when he coded his first Geocities website. When not burning the midnight oil, you can find him on the lacrosse field, playing or coaching. The best places to interact with him are Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.