4 Principles of Social Selling

Garrett Mann
Garrett Mann

Director, Content Marketing

social sellingDo you know everything you need to about your accounts and customers? Have you mined all the opportunities you can in your territory? Are you using social media to its full potential? 

Social selling can mean the difference between making your sales quota or missing it. According to a recent study on social selling:

  1. Almost 80% of salespeople using social media to sell out-performed those who weren’t using social media.
  2. 54% of sales reps who used social media sourced their social media usage back to at least one closed deal. 40% sourced between 2 and 5 deals to social media.
  3. Social sellers have exceeded quota at higher rate than non-social media users every year since 2010.

 Are you sold on social selling yet?

Keep reading to learn 4 rock-solid social principles that can aid your sales efforts starting today:

Social Selling Principle #1: Follow your customers and prospects

Sales pros, here’s a pop quiz:

Raise your hand if you think it is important to keep tabs on the accounts in your territory. Now, raise your hand if you have set up Google alerts on any or all of your vendors. Finally, raise your hand if you think your job is done.

Those of you who raised your hand on that last one, not sure I will be able to help you. For those of you who think you can be doing more to mine opportunities with accounts, you are in luck – thanks to social media, that is.

Social selling begins with monitoring, observing, and learning. Companies and their employees will share far more insight on what they are interested in and working on in social environments than they will anywhere else. Here are some steps to get going, primarily using Twitter and LinkedIn to start:

  • Set aside some time to find the social channels of the companies in your territory. Start following them immediately.
  • Look up any relevant contacts or individuals at these companies – start following them on Twitter and send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.
  • Set yourself up with a free social monitoring tool like HootSuite and/or TweetDeck in order to more easily track this activity. Either of these tools can help you better organize and segment the accounts you choose to follow.

Social Selling Principle #2: Share your “valuable” knowledge

social selling and sharingThe first rule of sharing in any environment: Add value. The second rule: Be relevant. We all have Facebook friends that go into painstaking detail about what they are having for dinner, how awesome their kids are, or what the weather is like. This is the type of stuff that makes you want to de-friend them or block them from your feed. In other words, you want to IGNORE them.

The worst thing that can happen to you as you try to engage your customers and prospects is that they ignore you. Don’t let them ignore you – share content or updates that are of value about your company, industry information/content, research, etc. Also, when you come across something notable that one of your customers shared, respond to it. For example, if you see that their company just put out a new product, congratulate them. Or if they put out noteworthy news, comment/give your perspective on it and share with your network of followers.

Social Selling Principle #3: Get personal

You must not forget the “social” in “social media”. Social media is not restricted by the rules and regulations that traditional marketing and journalistic venues are. It is personal and it is unique. People share what’s on their mind, not what they think people will want to hear. In the B2B world, it is a place where personal and professional insights merge. You can learn a lot about who your customers are, their personal interests, and their outlook just by “listening” to them in social environments.

Understanding personal interests or pursuits of your customers helps you create a profile of them that can be used to make follow-up more effective. Being able to build a personal relationship with your customers based on understanding of their interests, shared pursuits, or common outlook can help you create a more favorable selling environment for yourself.

Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to be personal with the information you share with your social networks within reason. Nobody wants to do business with a robot. However, they also don’t want to know how much you had to drink the previous night with clients.

Social Selling Principle #4: Don’t just pitch

social selling, not pitchingAny Glengarry Glen Ross fans out there? If so, you know the the ABCs of sales: Always Be Closing. My apologies to the folks from corporate headquarters, but closing certainly doesn’t mean pitching constantly. Sure, you have to pitch the product and the customer has to buy the product, but closing a deal is the culmination of the entire communication process between sales rep and prospect. Once you have hooked the prospect, by all means, pitch away. But when it comes to social media, don’t just be a one-trick pitching pony. Social selling is very different than just starting a social media account to “sell”. If you are using your social media accounts purely to “hock your wares”, you will find no followers, and the followers you have (some of them customers and prospects) will tune you out. This doesn’t mean you cannot have a point of view that reflects the company you are selling for or that you can never pitch, it just cannot be your sole communication platform. Instead, use social media to nurture your buyers, build good will, and prime them for the close.

For those of you who are already doing some or all of this, I applaud you. For those of you who are just getting started, hopefully these 4 steps will get you going in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to turn to your marketing counterparts for help if you need to.

If you would like to continue this conversation, feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Customer Engagement, LinkedIn, sales and marketing alignment, social listening, social media, social media marketing, social selling, social sharing, Twitter

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