Social Selling is not just a buzzword—it’s now a staple in B2B selling. Some have embraced it wholeheartedly while others are still unsure what it is or how to incorporate it into their sales efforts. The reality is, social selling is an important tool in your sales arsenal and it’s here to stay.
The definition of Social Selling can vary and I am sure you have your own, but for purposes of this discussion, “social selling” is the act of using social platforms as a means of communication to further your brand and accelerate your prospecting and sales process.
If you aren’t leveraging social selling, you are missing the boat. But just like any other sales approach, you can do it well or you can do it poorly. Bad social selling is damaging to your brand so proper execution is critical. Here are my guidelines for effective social selling:
Do use social platforms for research – Platforms like LinkedIn can help you see a person’s work history and connections to determine if there may be relationships you can leverage. If the prospect is active on social media, you can see the content they post and get an idea of what is important to them.
But don’t view your social research as some CIA secret – Just as you can see what your prospect posts, so can your competitors. Too often we see salespeople treat LinkedIn and Twitter like a confidential intelligence briefing. Newsflash: This is public information.
Do connect with your prospects and clients. While it goes without saying that you should connect with all of your prospects, don’t forget about engaging with people after they become clients. Nurture your relationship by liking and sharing their posts and comment when appropriate.
But don’t do so in a gratuitous way. If you can’t be genuinely interested in the subject matter they are posting, don’t fake it. “Fake” is not a good look. And above all else, don’t connect and then follow-up immediately with a sales pitch. That’s the fastest way to get unconnected with possible clients.
Do share relevant content. There are millions of pieces of content out there, but make sure anything you share points back to your solution. By all means, comment and like posts on a variety of subjects, but any content shares should be related to your products or services to establish thought leadership in your area of expertise.
But don’t share controversial content on LinkedIn. Seems like I shouldn’t have to say that, right? But based on the number of posts I’ve noted in the past year since the election, it bears repeating. If you want to make political or religious statements, by all means, do so…but LinkedIn is not the right forum. Basketball great and iconic Nike spokesperson Michael Jordan famously said, “Republicans buy sneakers too”. Politics and business just don’t mix.
Do update your social media profile. You don’t have to spend money, but be sure your picture is professional (it shows you are a serious individual.) Your headline and summary should be about how you and your company help other organizations solve critical business pains, not a mega-list of your accomplishments. (Everyone assumes you think a lot of yourself- just cut to the chase and tell them how your company can help THEM.)
But don’t make your profile a resume about yourself. When LinkedIn first emerged, its primary function was connecting with others to uncover new career opportunities. While it’s still an effective recruiting and job-finding tool, LinkedIn is more about connecting with prospects. Think about it this way: Let’s say your profile is all about how you’re the top rep, generating the highest revenue and profit in company history. While that would be attractive to a potential employer, that could be quite the turnoff for a prospect who now knows you have a knack for squeezing higher margins out of new clients.
Do add social selling to daily sales activities. Without consistency, you’re simply committing ‘random acts of social’ which fail to produce results. Dedicate 30 minutes every day to social activities. This is enough time to be effective, without ‘going down the rabbit hole’ of social, which can derail your selling efforts.
But don’t be a social selling zealot. Remember, social selling is PART of your selling and prospecting approach—not the whole plan. You still need to connect with prospects in various ways. You don’t communicate with your family, friends, boss or co-workers exclusively on social media; your prospects and customers are no different. By combining social with human-to-human (voice) and digital (email/web) communications, you make impressions in a variety of ways and dramatically increase the chances of gaining your prospect’s time and attention.
These are some simple but important rules of thumb when incorporating social selling into your sales arsenal. What are some of your do’s and don’ts?