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Social selling is a big term in the sales industry right now. To some, it means laziness: waiting for prospects to find you while twiddling your thumbs and hitting the “refresh” button on your feeds or just surfing around the platform aimlessly.

social selling - fast food and mobile phonesTo others, it means effectiveness: leveraging your network on LinkedIn to find important decision-makers and answering queries on LinkedIn groups so expertly that people remember your name when considering your solution. If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m of the latter team.

Your sales team can leverage social media, but only if they do social selling right. Social selling is not waiting around. Social selling is not broadcasting information, hoping that it will reach the right people. Social selling is not interrupting people’s day to sell them yet another product or service they don’t think they need. The faster your team understands that social selling is less about selling and more about engaging, the better.

If you’re considering implementing social selling strategies for your inside sales team, it’s important to make sure everyone is operating under the same guidelines so the messaging is consistent throughout. Create a
Social Selling Guide that your team can refer to, specific to your company and products or services. Here are some tactics your sales team can use to leverage social media in their sales efforts:

1. Use Advanced Search or helpful tools to find prospects.

Most social networks have an Advanced Search option, which you can customize to find those C-suite executives who are active there. In Twitter, you can then add those accounts to lists (just be careful to make sure your list is public or private). Customize these lists based on industry, personas, interests, etc., and then set up social messaging campaigns personalized to them. In LinkedIn, you can search based on keywords, location, current company, etc. and then join groups that they are active in and send customized invitations to connect to those who are a good fit for your solution.If you’re a B2C company, your sales reps can also utilize Facebook and Pinterest, with advice from the marketing team. You can also use custom tools, like
Capture from RingLead, as a simple way to scour the social web and pull contact data.

2. Start a conversation by sharing valuable expertise.

Don’t only monitor your lists, connections, and groups. Actually share valuable expertise. Top executives know a generic marketing message when they see it, so you need to set yourself apart from the rest. The key to doing this is authenticity. Share your real opinions on specific sales matters. Comment on highly viewed LinkedIn publishing posts. Start a polite conversation with someone on Twitter about their viewpoint. Agree or disagree, but take a stance, and interact with others. Depending on your personality type, this task can be either harrowing or exciting; either way, ask your managers what they would say in a situation if you’re unsure to make sure you’re keeping the company voice.

3. Join existing conversations on groups, and use hashtags.

Do you know the top keywords that you want to be associating with your company? For
AG Salesworks, keywords such as: outsourced inside sales, sales opportunity development, inside sales advice, teleprospecting best practices, and teleprospecting. Speak to your marketing department, and ask them for their top 5 keywords they want to track. Then, search variations of those keywords on LinkedIn groups and Twitter hashtags. Did you know there could be conversations going on about your product or service – right under your nose? Sometimes people won’t always tag your company so you may have to do the searching sans the notification. With social listening, you can join an already existing conversation with aplomb, coming off as both a thought leader and a trusted adviser. Quora is also a good social network for thought leadership; follow these topics, and then make a point to answer one question a week to build your stance as a sales professional.

4. Maintain an active social presence.

Besides sharing content specifically about your company or specifically for the purpose of social selling, maintain your social network presence. On LinkedIn, it’s good to post once a day, and if you have enough followers, you could even try incorporating one of your Quora answers into a LinkedIn publishing post, which could be picked up by Pulse and syndicated to a bigger audience. On Twitter, it’s important to share articles daily, and even multiple times, as a tweet lasts only 18 minutes, according to a
Moz study from 2012. In the past two years, that number has likely diminished. Share at least 5 articles a day, using Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule. If you’re having trouble finding articles to curate, ask your marketers, who most likely schedule for the company Twitter account daily.

If social selling is done right, leads will come to you.

However, it’s also important to supplement social selling with outbound calling, email, and voicemail efforts. Not every executive will be active on social media. The few who are will appreciate your approach. But, as the
Outbound Index indicates, traditional sales methods are still effective as well. Social selling should be part of your sales strategy, not a means to an end.

Get more sales tips in this inside sales ebook.

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The author:

RingLead offers a complete end-to-end suite of products to clean, protect and enhance company and contact information, leading to improved organizational efficiency, reliable business intelligence, and maximized ROI on CRM and marketing automation investments. Since 2003 RingLead has helped solve the dirty data problems of large enterprises, Fortune 500 companies and small businesses across the globe.