The 5 rules of social selling

Written by Tim Mears on March 29 2018

There were nearly 3 billion active social media users in 2017. If you’re not social selling already, you’re missing out.

Social selling is a sales technique which makes use of social media to interact with individual prospects. It is a low-cost, efficient way to drive sales and increase revenue. Social sellers regularly exceed quotas and companies like IBM have experienced a 400 percent increase in sales as a direct result of social selling.

The best part about social selling, though, is that anyone can do it. If you’ve got a Twitter profile and a LinkedIn account, you can start social selling today. Just take heed of these 5 rules of social selling first.

1. Keep your profile(s) up to date

If you’re reaching out to prospects and connecting with them on social media, there’s a good chance they’re going to take a look at your profile - especially if they’ve never met or heard from you before.

First impressions count. Make sure you’ve got a recent, professional profile photo (please, no passport photos), a Twitter bio that states your job role and company and an up-to-date job history on your LinkedIn profile.

HubSpot also recommends updating your LinkedIn so that it contains more than just your job history. Share or write articles, fill out the rest of your profile, build up endorsements and showcase your interests. You want to ‘emphasise the problems you’ve solved and the value you’ve created for customers...Keep in mind that unless you position yourself as someone who can help them, a prospect has no reason to listen to anything you say.’

Social selling guide

2. Be authentic (i.e. don’t spam people with cold sales messages or irrelevant content)

The whole point of social selling is to connect with prospects on an individual level and help them by sharing relevant content, answering questions and more. The last thing you should be doing is spamming them with brochures and articles about your products, or hitting them with a cold pitch.

Timothy Hughes, social selling expert and co-founder of Digital Leadership Associates, explains this nicely:

'When you go to a networking party, you don’t stand in the door and say, "Hey, it’s Tim Hughes, and I can offer you 20% off." You need to present yourself with something to talk about and build relationships with others.'

3. Start with small, light-touch interactions

Sending a prospect your 1000-word exegesis on why you’re the best person to solve their problems is creepy and a waste of time. It’s the sales equivalent of coming on too strong.

So forego the temptation to hit new prospects hard with all you’ve got to offer, and start building your relationship first with small interactions. Like, retweet and reshare their content before progressing up to commenting and, eventually, direct conversations.

4. Don’t just share. Listen.

Social media is a great tool for getting yourself (and your company) out there, but it’s also a great resource for research. Don’t just use it to share content and contact people - use it as an intelligence-gathering tool.

Carly Wennogle, a self-professed ‘customer obsessed’ account executive at Conga, is a pro when it comes to social listening.

‘LinkedIn is probably where I spend at least 50 percent of my day,’ she says in an interview with Sales Reboot Camp. ‘Not just for hunting, but researching, listening, scanning what is going with buy prospects and buyers. Did they get funding? Did they buy a company? Are they promoting their annual conference? Are they not sharing anything at all? It is so telling what gets shared.’

(Don’t think you have to spend half your day on LinkedIn to be a successful social seller, though. The Harvard Business Review says that B2B salespeople only need to invest between five and ten percent of their time to social selling).

5. Track everything

Use a sales and customer relationship management (CRM) system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 to track every single one of your leads through the sales pipeline so that when you do close a deal, you can accurately attribute it to your mighty social selling efforts.

If you’re not convinced of the importance of reporting, consider this: the Aberdeen Group released a study on the impact of social selling a while ago and found that when you look at sales key performance indicators (KPIs) like quota attainment, renewal rate and forecast accuracy, social sellers always come out on top. Imagine being able to show your boss or board members that kind of data?

Go forth and sell

Anyone can be a social seller. All it takes is a spruced up profile, patience and the five tips above. If you’re ready to start social selling, download our social selling toolkit now.

 Social selling guide