Social Selling 101 – 7 Essential Tips for Sales Reps to Follow

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Rich Stone

Global Account Director

“Why should I care about this ‘social selling’ stuff?”

The answer is very simple: your clients use it, your competitors use it and it doesn’t cost anything (besides time).  More importantly, Forbes recently shared a post with some data to back it up stating that 78% of sales people using social media outsell their peers.

If there is one thing a sales rep hates, it is to be outsold. Which is precisely why you need to start leveraging social media and networks as a tool to make more headway within your territory today.

Core elements of an effective social selling strategy

What can you accomplish with social selling?

  • Brand building  – You can use social media to establish credibility in your market and help create visibility for yourself and your company.
  • Researching and listening – Understand what clients / prospects are talking about and who they’re talking with. Additionally, research competitors to see how they interact with followers and customers.
  • Engagement – Join and start client conversations and follow up directly with customers.

But what does it take to get started?

7 easy steps to get you on your way to becoming a social selling juggernaut

#1 – Create compelling profiles and expand your network

If you have not already, your first step is to create a strong profile within your social networks with a clear picture and full bio. Your bio should include any relevant links as well as link to the company you work for. And you have to make it easy for people to find you by including pertinent keywords in your profile as well as making sure you have public profile settings turned on (although you will want to keep your actual LinkedIn contacts private for those you are not connected to). Also, you should link your social profiles together (i.e. LinkedIn and Twitter) to maximize your exposure.

Once you have created and/or updated your profile, it is now time to build and expand your social network. You can start by following pertinent accounts on Twitter using contact lists for both established accounts and prospects as well as looking to join relevant industry groups on LinkedIn. Also, make sure to add all of your social profiles to your email signature so it is front and center when communicating with your client base.

#2 – Demonstrate expertise

Just being on social media is not going to help you add value to your customers. You must share content that establishes you as a knowledgeable resource and helps to expand you and your company’s reach. Following are 2 examples of how you can do this:

  • Leverage content your marketing teams create for you – blogs, infograpghics, white papers, case studies etc. – and share it on your networks.
  • Follow and reshare content from key industry players, colleagues, clients and prospects – not only does this help you gain more followers by sharing good content, it also helps to feed the ego of those customers and prospects you have shared. Be sure to leverage tools like bit.ly to shorten your links and track engagement.

#3 – Monitor active conversations

Find out who’s talking and where. Research active Twitter hashtags, account lists, your company, colleagues and competitors. Also research LinkedIn groups and online Peer2Peer communities. Start to build a list of relevant discussions and check in regularly. Take note of the most active contributors and their hot topics/areas of need. There are a number of free social listening tools out there to help you do this.

#4 – Check in on prospects

You would be surprised how much information people share about themselves, their companies and their key initiatives over social channels. You just have to make sure you are listening. Dig into social profiles of key contributors and find out what they are sharing, what their biggest areas of concern/pain points are, and what competitors, if any, they are engaging.

# 5 – Build a list of competitors to monitor regularly

Social media is one of the easiest ways to find out what competitors are focused on and what core messages they are sharing with their customers. Leverage this medium to its fullest extent to find out what content they are sharing, how they approach customers online across social channels, and most importantly, how their audiences respond to their content and/or outreach.

#6 – Join the conversation

social selling conversationsYou must join the conversation to fully embrace social selling. A read-only, sit on the sidelines approach will not work. That being said, it is important to find the right point of entry. When using LinkedIn, in my opinion, it is only appropriate to engage with people you know or have met. Blind invitations to connect are usually moved right into the trash. Feel free to get a bit more bold with Twitter – there is more license to connect with like-minded folks without establishing a formal connection first.

#7 – Rinse, optimize and repeat

Review what strategies are working and what ones are not, which for starters, you can track easily by setting up a free bit.ly account. Track links that you share to see what people are interested in and what are the best times of day to share. Then determine channels that led to the most activity and focus your time there.

Outsell your peers

It really is as simple as that. Invest your time and effort into leveraging social and it will help you crush your quota. If you want to learn more about how to become a better social seller, leave a comment or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and/or Twitter.

sales engagements, social media, social media marketing, social selling, social sharing

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