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Social Selling : A Guide to Getting Started

Posted May 4th, 2019 in Social Media, Sales

Social Selling : A Guide to Getting Started

Salespeople, Entrepreneurs, and Executives need to include social media in their sales strategy. Social Selling provides a way to reach more people, provide information, and continue conversations that generate leads, closes sales and improves customer retention.


Social Media does not replace face-to-face meetings, but it is another way to keep the conversation going long after you leave the room. 

It is estimated there are more than 5 billion people who have mobile devices, and over half of these people use smartphones. 

With the increase use and advancement of mobile technology, people are accessing their social media accounts 24/7 to get the information they need to help them make decisions about what to buy; and this is not only limited to personal use, but for business as well. 

When selling to the end consumer (B2C), businesses are using social media to showcase new products, offer an outlet to purchase directly through social media and connect with their clients and influencers.  People value what other people say, and they will often research to see online reviews before deciding to buy which makes social media a powerful platform for sales.

Social Selling Goals: Education, Lead Generation, Building Relationships

For business-to-business (B2B) companies, the journey is often longer and less direct than when selling directly to the consumer; however, throughout the different stages of the sales funnel social media is another way salespeople can provide content, connect with key people, increase sales, and provide an opportunity to build relationships that promotes client retention.

Social Media offers a communications outlet for both listening and engaging in conversations. We know that the more opportunities we have to interact with the people who can influence a purchase decision increases revenue potential and a chance to build stronger relationships.   It helps people find you when searching online, and a company and the sales team can develop a reputation as industry experts and thought leaders.  As well, social media extends your reach to a broader audience; an audience that you may never have had the opportunity to meet with in-person which is valuable for all levels within the sales funnel. 

Social Media - Beyond Marketing

Social Media in the past has been relegated solely to the marketing team, but this is not the case any longer.  Your customers and prospects are looking to the internet for information when considering a purchase.  They want to know how to solve a problem and what solutions are available.  Are there any subject matters? They want to find the best solution provider for their business needs, and that means value and expertise.  Marketing provides the materials, and a high level of listening, but it is You, the sales rep, who is out there looking for new leads and managing client relationships.  Social media offers an ideal conduit of communication that can bring your networking to the next level.

The goal of sales is to acquire new business and to have repeat business from current clients.  Social Media can help sales reach their goals.

Research shows that B2B clients are using social media when making purchasing decisions. 

  • Most B2B buyers are already 57% of the way through the buying process before the first meeting with a representative. (Accenture, 2018)
  • In the B2B setting, events help generate the most leads, while case studies help convert and accelerate the most leads. (Marketing Charts, 2018)
  • 85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is their most important content marketing goal. (Ring Lead, 2017)How to include social selling in your sales strategy

How to include Social Selling into your Sales Strategy

Develop your Online Brand - Be an Influencer

Be who you are, but also be who you want to be.  Your online brand is an extension of your offline brand so be authentic when making a first and long-lasting impression.  A mentor, coach or manager is often more objective, so ask for their opinion.  If your business is to sell products or services to business executives, then your profile photo and tone of speech should be professional and more formal.  If you are selling to an industry that is less formal, such as the cycling industry or alternative healthcare industry, then my suggestion is to focus on business casual in how you look and in conversation.  Keep the tone professional but not too serious. To show your authenticity and credibility, make sure you talk about your life outside work that supports your expertise and interest in the field. 

TIP: When writing business articles, blogs or emails, Grammarly is an online editing tool where you can set the tone and style you want to achieve and it will assist with editing to meet your goals, as well as provide grammar and spelling corrections. 

“In sales, it's not what you say; it's how they perceive what you say.” - Jeffrey Gitomer

First Impressions, Lasting Impressions

When you walk into a room of prospective clients, what is the impression you want to leave with them?   When meeting someone face-to-face, what leaves an impression is your physical self, such as the clothes you wear, the words you choose, the strength of your handshake, and your smile.  When meeting someone online, first impressions of your physical self are still important, especially with the increase of visuals and the use of video content. However, the art of Social Selling has some added nuances that must also be considered.

As sales people, we are very conscious of how we are perceived by someone when we meet them.  When we meet someone in person and start to talk about our products, services, or subject matter, we have the luxury of watching their body language as they listen.  Even on the telephone, we have the tone, flexion, and pauses in the speech as an indicator if they are receiving the information as intended, or their current sentiment.  This information lets us adjust our words, our tone, our timing.  With social media, we do not always have that luxury.  Emails were the first of the digital communications that made it challenging to get our point across and listen effectively.  Video conferencing is not bad, but that only happens after you get a meeting.  Nothing will replace being with someone face-to-face, but the reality is that we live in a global economy and a fast-paced one, where digital communications are essential to doing business.

Think Twice, and Think Again, Before Posting

When you have a conversation in a physical place, you see whom you are talking with, and you know that anything repeated beyond those walls is hearsay.  When engaging in discussions on social media, your comments, photos, videos are ‘forever’, and can be shared with many people at a viral rate.  Think twice, and think again, before posting.  This includes comments in response to someone else’s blog, posting a tweet, responding to an angry customer online, or adding a photo to your Facebook account, especially those from company events.  The lines between professional and personal online branding are blurred.  All employees need to be careful on social media, but as a salesperson, it adds even more importance. Experienced and successful salespeople spend years building their network of connections. Their livelihood is based on a reputation of trust and customer service excellence.

Social Media offers a competitive advantage because of the doors that it opens to new markets and communications to be introduced to, manage and build relationships.  Take the time to learn best practices on how to leverage social media effectively to meet your sales goals and build on your current successes.

Online Etiquette Insights

Social Selling begins with learning the tools, a few rules of online etiquette. 

  • Be authentic, be kind, apologize if you say or do something wrong, and post with the thought that anyone at any time can read or see it. 
  • If a conversation gets heated or private, take it offline, and then respond appropriately. 
  • Find out what your company has in place for policies and processes on how to respond to certain situations. 
  • If you represent multiple product lines, make sure to review your contract to see if there is anything of which you need to be aware. 
  • If you are independent, then adopt some social media guidelines from an organization that has been successful in managing their company online.

Start slow! But, Be Consistent.

You don’t need to be an expert to start integrating social media into your sales strategy. Your Social Selling efforts can start with optimizing your LinkedIn profile and then connecting with a few of your peers.  See what they are doing online.  Dedicate 20 minutes per day, and you will be surprised what you learn, and the opportunities you find.  More on how to use that 20 minutes a day to get the greatest results.

Leverage your Marketing Team

Leverage the digital content your company is creating, and their corporate social media presence, as you start to build your Social Selling strategy. Content marketing is all about creating information to help move your customer along their path to purchase.  As noted in the above statistics, more people are looking online to get the information they need, and to connect with companies that can provide the best solution and customer experience.   Content comes in the form of white papers, e-books, case studies, blog articles, press releases, videos, podcasts, etc.  Remember that social Selling isn’t always about Selling, but also about becoming a resource to your clients or potential clients.

Keep the lines of communication open between sales & marketing!

Give your marketing team feedback and suggestions.  Yes, they can track online metrics to see how well a piece of content is doing, but there is nothing as valuable as feedback from the frontline salespeople.  

  • What content is helping buyers make decisions? 
  • What part of the sales funnel do you find people getting stuck? 
  • Is the marketing material staying current with the demands of your customers? 
  • What customers would be good to interview for a case study?  The more content you have that is relevant, the more opportunities you have to share with your social media audience.
Give your marketing team feedback and suggestions.  Yes, they can track online metrics to see how well a piece of content is doing, but there is nothing as valuable as feedback from the frontline salespeople.  
  • What content is helping buyers make decisions? 
  • What part of the sales funnel do you find people getting stuck? 
  • Is the marketing material staying current with the demands of your customers? 
  • What customers would be good to interview for a case study? 
The more content you have that is relevant, the more opportunities you have to share with your social media audience.

LinkedIn is a Popular B2B Social Media Platform

LinkedIn is the most popular B2B social media network for professionals, and essential for sales professionals.  They have a free version, but also an upgrade specifically designed for business development.

Tips on how to get the most out of LinkedIn for Social Selling

  1. Add a professional profile photo. If you do just one thing, make sure your profile photo represents your brand - First impressions “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
  2. Optimize your LinkedIn Profile
  3. Look into discussion groups where your clients and prospects are having discussions.  Be an asset to the discussions; these are not sales platforms to keep pitching your product line.  If there is interest from a discussion group member, then connect privately with them.
  4. Share relevant articles.  LinkedIn is a professional network where you have a chance to show your thought leadership.
  5. Do not post personal content. Family photos, and fun/casual posts (e.g. personal jokes) should be saved for other social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram.
  6. Ask to connect with people on LinkedIn. When you meet someone at a networking event or meeting, ask if you can connect with the on LinkedIn.  Benefits of connecting on LinkedIn is that people change jobs and it is hard to stay in touch if you only have their work email.  Often people move to a similar position in a different organization which means that a happy customer may champion a repeat purchase.  Remember, it is not only the decision makers that are important to connect with, but also influencers to the decision makers. 
  7. Follow people on LinkedIn. You do not need to be a connection to follow someone on LinkedIn. If you do not know someone enough to connect with them, but you find the articles they share helpful, you can always Follow them.  


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