How to Use Social Selling the Right Way

social selling

Social selling is a popular buzzword in tech sales, but it’s often misunderstood and abused. Many salespeople try to use social media as a place to push their sales pitch to a wider audience, but that has resulted in too much noise and information available to buyers.

Social selling is all about playing the long game: adding value and building rapport. By establishing credibility, you’ll inevitably open up opportunities for the future.

Build your “social” brand

Many salespeople make the mistake of not taking the time to build their professional image. Credibility is vital to being successful in sales, and it’s only built when prospects can see your authentic POV (point of view). Social media is an important opportunity for salespeople to demonstrate that authentic POV to a wider audience.

With social media, the details matter. More often than not, prospects will see your online presence well before they see you in person. And a poor social media presence is like walking into a C-level meeting wearing a wrinkled suit.

What social spammers do

As you spend more time on social media, you’ll notice many people try to cut corners, but gaining credibility and adding value to the community is the only way be successful in social selling. Avoid the following behavior if you want to have a real impact on social media:

  • Never customizing LinkedIn connect requests
  • Sending a LinkedIn connect request, then messaging immediately with a pitch
  • Using automated messaging like Twitter Direct Messages when connecting
  • Liking, retweeting, favoriting everything without reading or providing intelligent comments
  • Sending out the same low-grade, non-personalized content over and over again
  • Not engaging in meaningful conversations other than to pitch

What social winners do

The salespeople who are killing it on social media are the ones who provide consistent value instead of simply pitching their product/service. Learn to be a value generator by following these recommendations:

  • After having a conversation with prospect, sending a personalized LinkedIn connection request
  • Posting a relevant and high-quality post on LinkedIn that speaks to your prospect’s need / pain point
  • Follow a company on LinkedIn and Twitter and observe the things the company talks about.
  • Visit a few other executive and mid-level employee LinkedIn profiles and follow the ones that are more active.
  • Have a touch plan that incorporates LinkedIn & Twitter outreach and share content that reflects need / pain point.

To get a jump start on becoming a social winner, give yourself a quick social makeover.

 

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LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile needs to be more than a digital resume. Resumes are important for getting a job, but your LinkedIn profile is your opportunity to showcase your professional brand. Instead of listing simply what you’ve done, use your profile to demonstrate your value. Start with these LinkedIn profile tips to optimize your LinkedIn presence:

  • High quality profile picture
  • Personalized LinkedIn URL
  • Fill in your profile and make sure its current
  • Use a catchy tagline rather than your company & title
  • Get handful of recommendations
  • Use the summary to describe your value and expertise to clients
  • Share some relevant posts & content
  • Make your profile public
  • Add your contact information
  • Good number of connections (500+)

Twitter Profile

Twitter is a powerful tool for your sales arsenal if you use it wisely. Though not a “professional platform” like LinkedIn, Twitter can be an effective outreach channel you can use to get the attention of someone you’re trying to reach. Follow these profile guidelines to give yourself a professional presence:

  • Use your name & a professional handle
  • High quality profile picture (same as LinkedIn)
  • Fill-in your bio and include a company handle / hashtag
  • Add location and website
  • Schedule a bunch of relevant tweets
  • Start to follow more people you want to target (watch your follow ratio)
  • Make your profile public
  • Get alerts for certain targeted profiles

Targeting your outreach

Using social channels can certainly increase your pipeline, but you need to make sure you’re going about your prospecting the right way. Below are some helpful tips I’ve picked up along the way:

  1. Find prospects with the right tools. Try using tools like Nimble, Full Contact, Rapportive, Clearbit, etc. to find social profiles of targeted prospects so you can reach out on LinkedIn and Twitter. These tools can save you a lot of time, and many are free.
  2. Build a complete customer profile. Reviewing a prospect’s Twitter feed can help you learn more about your customer contacts, to be able to connect on a more subtle level.  Example: If you know a prospect is into College Basketball and tweets about it all the time, then you might incorporate that casually into a conversation.
  3. Personalize your messaging. Remember that content without context is spam. Generic connection request, replies out of context, pushing your agenda, and auto DMs are all things to avoid. Focus on the person instead of your pitch.

Secrets of a LinkedIn power user

WHAT TO DOMORE INFO
Upload your contacts. This expands your 1st level connections, creating many more 2nd level connections that are easier to reach.
Viewers of this profileWhen connecting to a prospect, use this section to see other relevant contacts, then create the prospect org chart.
Advanced searchFind prospects by title, company, location, keyword, company size, seniority level, groups, etc. (some of these require paid account).
Ways to keep in touchRespond to changes / updates of your contacts 1) let’s you know important contact updates 2) puts you top of mind with contacts.
Join groupsAnother access point to relevant prospects to connect to & discussions can lead to reasons for making a connection.
Follow companiesProvides updates & content from companies to use in your outreach.
Deep prospect researchYou can find lots of useful info; contact info & links, posts & media, work, schools, interests, volunteer work, recommendations, groups, how to contact, etc.
Connect requestsPersonalize invite and use the 300 characters to 1) talk about them 2) why they should connect 3) call to action.
InMailsThe last rung of outreach (paid accounts only). Note that any response to an InMail within 90 days (even not interested) returns your credit, so use them wisely.

Secrets of a Twitter power user

WHAT TO DOMORE INFO
Upload your contactsIncreases your number of connections, grows your credibility and more importantly increases the reach of your tweets.
Who to followLook for recommendations on similar accounts to build your network; also note the “You might want to follow these similar accounts” right after following someone.
Advanced searchYou can use https://twitter.com/search-advanced to find similar users or users interested in similar topics.
HashtagsThree ways to leverage 1) add one relevant hashtag to your bio 2) add one or two hashtags to enhance visibility of your tweets 3) follow hashtags for discussions.
Build listsBuild a few lists to capture 1) industry leaders 2) prospects – both people and companies 3) industry / profession tips & tricks.
Follow listsLists provide a way to follow a curated set of users, look out for lists created by industry leaders / influencers.
Deep prospect researchRead through tweets of active prospects and see who they follow, what hashtags they follow, and which lists they joined.
Like and retweetsUse these as icebreakers a couple of days before OR after following a user you have targeted; avoid creepy, but continue to do so sparingly.
Direct messagingCan be effective if not used as pitch, apply same rules as LinkedIn InMails or direct emails; best way is to share useful content like a post or webinar.

There are countless strategies you can employ on social media, but this list should help you get started in the right way. If you’d like to talk more about social selling, feel free to connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn or at the Enterprise Sales Meetup.

 

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Mark is the Founder & Co-Organizer at Enterprise Sales Meetup. Enterprise Sales Meetup is a community for sales people selling into enterprises to share, learn, and network with industry peers.