Digital Selling vs. Social Selling: What’s the Difference?


Digital Selling vs. Social Selling: What’s the Difference?

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

If you’ve been following our blog, you already know that Social Selling is hot right now. Since its inception in 2012, it has exploded in the marketplace. But there’s another term that we often encounter these days: Digital Selling.

The first thing you have to know about Social Selling and digital selling is that they are two distinct processes. If we are to create an org chart, Social Selling would be under the umbrella of Digital Selling. These terms are not interchangeable. The ultimate goal, however, is the same: to educate and influence the buyer and hopefully close a deal.

Social Selling

As mentioned earlier, Social Selling is an element within Digital Selling. I like to define it as “meeting the buyer where the buyer is already conducting due diligence – which is online.” Buyers use Social Selling by working within their peer-to-peer networks, digesting content to arm themselves with information and make intelligent buying decisions.

So where does the seller come in?

The social seller’s job is to meet a buyer along the buyer’s journey, gently guiding them towards a favorable purchasing decision using valuable content.

The Three Elements of Social Selling

Stage 3 Social Selling

As the image above shows, Social Selling has three major tactical elements or components:

  1. Insights-based selling: According to Forrester and Corporate Visions, “74% of buyers choose the sales team that was first to provide value and insight within their buying journey.”  Shaping your buyer’s journey early is critical, and leveraging digital insights will help arm your buyer with information to make informed decisions.
  2. Trigger-based selling: Sales professionals should constantly look for internal or external events happening around your buyer. When leveraged by a sales professional in the timely manner, this digital information allows for highly contextual conversations that can give you an edge over your competitors.
  3. Referral-based selling: People buy from people.  The road map of relationships can be mechanized through tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter.  By building a relationship road map, sellers can establish deeper connections with their buyers.

These three tactical elements of Social Selling can be automated with tools like LinkedIn and fed with content to nurture relationships.

To sum it up, Social Selling leverages content and social platforms to drive next steps for the buyer. It’s not a replacement for the way your team sells, but an additional process.

Digital Selling

Digital selling merges sales, marketing, and customer service into one revenue-generating business unit. Like traditional selling, it guides buyers through the customer journey, resulting in better engagement and closed deals. The difference is that It utilizes digital activities, such as social selling, data analytics, sales intelligence and automation, customer relationship management, and multimedia presentations, to do so.

Basically, Digital Selling involves leveraging digital assets and bringing together larger elements in the organization to create content that can help close deals. It involves creating an organizational structure around content and research, and an ecosystem to measure the content consumption of your customer.

It’s not just the marketing team churning out content—with Digital Selling, everyone is involved in the creation, organization, and distribution of content. In fact, content consumption for Digital Selling organizations is the ultimate litmus test for engagement and buyer interest. 

Several revenue organizations already have these departments. The core members include a content marketer, an SDR representative, and a sales executive, and they function as one business unit within the larger organization. The content marketer helps create the story, the SDR uses that content to open up new relationships, and the sales executive works to close the deal.

The team focuses on creating specific content for a specific audience in a specific territory, rather than marketing on a massive scale. Together, they measure the digital footprints of the buyer, tracking content consumption as a trigger for buying engagement.

Making the Move to Digital Selling 

Prior to enrolling your sales team in a digital selling workshop, it is crucial to identify your sales organization’s goals and its success metrics, and then determine how these will be measured. The focus of the digital selling workshop should be on KPI’s, along with making adjustments to the CRM to track them. An effective digital selling training, such as The ScalePipeline System, creates behavioral change and measurable outcomes that prove return on investment.

The Bottom Line

Social Selling uses social networks as a means of driving business, while Digital Selling is the creation of an entire ecosystem that leverages all of the assets that are occurring both online and offline.

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