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The Complete Guide to Social Selling for Sales

Written by
David Scott

Social media isn't just for B2C anymore.

The best B2B salespeople and marketers use social selling to build relationships, generate pipeline, and close new business.

Even if your other marketing channels are working, social selling can be a brilliant addition to your channel mix.

Social selling can help you:

  • Build credibility in your market
  • Grow your brand awareness
  • Build relationships with potential buyers and partners

In this article, I'll show you how you can build a system that will help you generate a steady flow of sales-ready leads using social media.

Let's jump in.

What is Social Selling?

Social selling is the process of using social media in a way that's going to benefit your business.

Contrary to popular marketing belief, the best social selling is done through personal accounts, not company and brand accounts.

After all, people prefer to interact with people, not brands.

Social selling activities usually invole:

  • Regularly sharing interesting content
  • Commenting on others' posts and articles
  • Connecting with others in your industry

Social selling is completely virtual, so you can build a huge social presence without ever leaving the comfort of your desk chair.

Why Should You Be Social Selling?

Today, more than ever, social media is an important part of the sales process.

57% of the buying process is complete before a prospect even talks to your sales team.

Your buyers are doing their own research and making decisions without even talking to you.

To get around this, flip the traditional sales process on its head.

Use social media to get in front of prospects while they're in their early stages of decision-making.

Be the person that stands out, and use your social presence to differentiate yourself from the competition, build trust, and help people decide thleat you're the right vendor for their needs.

It does take time and energy to make social selling pay off.

But once it's working, it's going to be a fantastic lever for growth.

Sales reps using social media beat their quotas 23% more often than those who don't, and buyers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.

Social Selling Best Practices

Focus on Consistency

When you first start posting and engaging on social, you'll see very little engagement (unless you already have an established following).

Don't let it discourage you.

Consistency is key. Create s publishing schedule that works for you, for example:

  • 1 post on LinkedIn per day
  • 1 short video per week
  • Engage in 5 new existing conversations per week
  • Connect with 5 key decision-makers per week

If you stick to a schedule you'll start to see results. Your network will grow, and people will start noticing and engaging with your content.

Don't Sell

You shouldn't view social selling as a channel that's going to generate leads instantly. It takes time. That said, a significant benefit of social selling is that it can influence people's decisions.

Think of the long-game, and focus on providing value and building a reputation as someone who's trustworthy and knows what they're talking about.

75% of B2B buyers are "significantly influenced" by social media. It's your job to influence them in a good way, and not bad.

If you're only posting links to your demo form or pitching features of your product/service, people won't want to engage.

They'll feel like they're being sold to.

But, if you share content that can be genuinely useful to people, they'll see you as an expert in your industry and be more likely to turn to you when they have questions, or need a solution to a problem that you can help with.

Don't get me wrong - you should be promoting your company and it's content. But, do it in a way that adds value. Don't just paste the link and hit publish.

Add value on social media to improve your personal brand
Adding value to your audience will build your reputation as an expert (Source: Marketing Examples)

Optimize Your Profile

This is an important step.

If your social selling activities are going well, you'll have a stream of people arriving on your profile every day.

Treat your profile like a landing page.

Post a profile picture that reflects your personal brand.

Add a headline that makes sense.

Include a call-to-action with a link to your website.

Visitors to your profile should know what you do, instantly, without having to think about it.

Don't make people guess what you do.

In the example below, Austin of Cultivated Culture has used a benefits-driven headline that lets anyone immediately see what his area of expertise is.

Optimize your LinkedIn profile for social selling
Treat your social media profiles like landing pages for the best results

There's a call-to-action ("Let's Talk"), and in the About section, there is a well-formatted paragraph with links and further information for anyone wanting to learn more.

If you can show people why you're worth their time, you'll be more likely to build your connection list faster.

If you're still unsure if it's worth it, consider this - sales reps with 5000+ connections on LinkedIn achieve quota 98% of the time. Correlation isn't causation, but there's no doubt that a large and engaged network will be more likely to lead to more sales opportunities.

Be Yourself, Not Your Company

People interact with people.

While you can do social selling with a company social account, you should keep it personal to build real connections quickly.

If you've optimized your social profiles and mention your company, people will still end up on your company page if they're curious about what you do.

For example, Matthew Kobach of Fast talks about the company he works for, but from a personal account.

Blend personal posts with branded posts
Blend personal posts with company-related posts to show authenticity

As he already has an engaged following there are two key benefits:

  1. He shares useful content that his followers enjoy
  2. People see him talking about Fast, and are more likely to check out their website

Social selling is all about building awareness. If your content is tailored to your audience, they'll eventually end up checking out your website or coming to you when they have a problem they know you can solve.

Create Alerts with Social Listening Tools

Social listening is an important part of social selling.

Tools like Mention and Hootsuite can help you find conversations happening across social media related to your brand, or keywords you've chosen to be notified about.

This enables you to join conversations at the right time and add value where you can.

If the conversation isn't a fit for your expertise, don't worry - you don't have to join every conversation on the web.

But, social listening is an effective tactic to ensure you don't join threads on LinkedIn or Twitter days after everyone else has stopped commenting.

Get Your Whole Team on Board

Social selling will work best for your company if your whole team takes part.

If you have several members of your sales team regularly publishing content, sharing each other's content, and starting discussions, you'll see your reach expand much faster than if it was a solo effort.

If you want your sales team to be on social media but not take time away from their job, you could ask your marketing team to handle it. They'll already know what type of content people matching your buyer persona engage with, and can schedule posts to go out at regular intervals.

Use Real Examples and Case Studies

84% of senior executives use social media to support purchase decisions.

Use your social channels to share examples of brands seeing success with your product/service, and case studies.

Mix these into your regular posts and they won't look like you're just there to sell.

Instead, they'll build trust with decision-makers in your network.

If they're in the early stages of a buying decision, they'll remember your posts and factor them into their process.

By the time they decide they're ready to buy, they'll already be envisioning the results they'll get from your product or service.

Wrapping Up

Social selling is going to help you build better relationships with people in your industry, nurture prospects, and generate warm leads.

At first, you'll see slow growth, but once your audience starts to grow you'll see more people engaging with your posts and content. If you've been focused on creating content tailored to your ideal customer profile, your audience will include decision-makers and stakeholders at companies that will be a great fit for what you're selling.

This article was first published on
August 14, 2020
updated

David Scott

Senior Director - Projects, Marketing, Technology – With over 15 years’ experience in marketing, sales & lead generation David leads the strategic projects of the group.

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