B2B Sales

Social Selling Tips: A Sales Rep’s Guide

There is a famous principle in marketing called “seven touches”. It states that it takes seven touches — be it through ads, calls, letters, or emails—before someone will take enough notice of you to act on your call to action. 

This constant contact probably sounds familiar to any B2B salesperson, who on average needs 8 touches to book a sales meeting with a cold prospect. The sales rep’s touches usually come in the form of cold calls or emails, but it is better to diversify that outreach.

Instead of sending 4 follow-up emails and making 4 unanswered phone calls, try to vary your approach by including some social touches such as LinkedIn messages, Instagram comments, and Twitter mentions.

In a world so captivated, and quite possibly hypnotized, by social media, it pays to learn how to interact with buyers that way. 

In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about social selling in order to master the skill. 

So that next time your colleague calls you out for scrolling through your Twitter feed, you can just say: “Leave me alone. I’m prospecting!” 

What is Social Selling?

Social selling is the act of selling through social media platforms. 

It focuses on building personal relationships with prospects through the virtual medium. When compared to cold calling, social selling is thought of as less intrusive to buyers. It also brings in more quality leads. 

Reps find success in social selling by doing 2 things: demonstrating industry expertise and interacting with potential buyers. 

The best way to demonstrate your expertise is by providing value, usually in the form of content. 

Here are some ways to do that: 

  • Sharing industry content such as articles or videos. 
  • Building a profile that shows their interest and expertise in the industry.  
  • Leaving thought-provoking comments on posts by others in the industry. 
  • Publishing their own content. 

All of these actions demonstrate knowledge of the industry and the willingness to help prospects with their pain points. This creates trust and facilitates future interactions with prospects. 

Connecting With Prospects

Here are some things you can do to successfully establish contact with the prospect: 

  • Tagging a prospect on a post that they might find interesting. 
  • Messaging a prospect on the platform. 
  • Replying to a comment made by a prospect. 
  • Reading a prospect’s published content and messaging them about it. 

If you start taking these actions, you should see an increase in your sales. According to a study by LinkedIn, 64% of the sales reps that invest in social media reach their quotas, as opposed to only 49% of those who neglect social media. 

Social selling has some other numbers to back up its effectiveness. 

  • Social sellers create 38% more new opportunities compared to traditional ones.
  • Social selling allows marketers to close 100% more deals than with outbound marketing.
  • 98% of sales reps with more than 5,000 LinkedIn connections reach or exceed their quota

At the moment, LinkedIn is the most effective platform for B2B sales. However, you can also sell on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

Which one you choose depends on the preferences and activity of your target market. 

Benefits of Social Selling 

Cold calling has its strengths, as does email, but the common buyer is growing weary of random salespeople interrupting their days. 

Email and cold calling should still be parts of your prospecting mix, but you should also start incorporating social selling, especially when 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions.

And social selling comes with some other benefits—both for you and your company. 

How Social Selling Benefits You

There are several ways to leverage social selling. Let’s look into them.

  1. Build your personal brand: Posting and commenting builds your brand within your chosen industry. The better your brand, the more prospects will want to speak with you about your services.  
  2. Become a thought leader: If you continuously share your thoughts with other members of the platform, you will become known as a thought leader. This reputation will help you land clients and even other jobs in the industry. 
  3. Set yourself up for future career opportunities: Hiring managers want to see that you are interested in your chosen field. If they see that you are actively interacting with others in the industry, they will be more likely to offer you the job. 
  4. Helps you bring in larger accounts: Through social media, you can often connect with decision-makers from bigger companies who are hard to reach through classic sales channels. 

A social media presence and connections with the right players in your chosen field will make you seem more credible, thus attracting more clients.

How Social Selling Benefits Your Company

Apart from benefits for your personal brand, this strategy offers a number of advantages to your business in general.

  1. Generates quality leads: Since you will be sharing educational content, the leads who come in from social selling will usually be more familiar with your company’s product than leads from other outreach methods. 
  2. Boosts web traffic: When people interact with the company’s content, they are likely to end up on the website. More traffic means more leads for you. 
  3. Promotes the company brand: When the company’s content is being shared and commented on by reps, awareness of the brand will grow.
  4. Improves recruiting: People want to work for companies that they have heard of. 

And remember, the better your company is doing, the more sales you will make. 

Social Selling Tips for Social Media Success

If you want to build your brand, educate customers on your product, and build relationships through social media, you need to employ a strategy. 

Here are some of the most critical actions you need to take when social selling. 

1. Choose the Most Relevant Social Network

First, it makes sense to choose the most relevant social networks for your social selling. 

In the beginning, it might be best to stick with one social network so that you avoid having to learn the ins and outs of multiple platforms along with all your other sales work. 

Which social network is most relevant depends on your target audience or your Ideal Customer Profile. You want to be active on a network that your potential customers actually use. 

For instance, if your target audience consists of C-suite executives who are over the age of 45, you might choose LinkedIn

On the other hand, if your target market is college-age girls, you might prioritize Instagram

Source: accion.org

As you can see from the image above, different platforms attract different ages, genders, titles, interests, etc.

So, when selecting a network, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Are my customers active on this social network?
  • Does my industry have a presence on this network?
  • Do any of my competitors successfully use this platform? 
  • Does the network’s user base fit our customer demographics? 

If you are in the B2B space, we recommend starting with LinkedIn. The audience there consists of business professionals looking for thought leadership, advice, and entertaining content in their industry, all of which you can certainly provide. 

2. Look Your Best and Make Sure Your Profiles are up to Date

If you message someone about helping their business, the first thing they are going to do is check out your profile. 

And if you want them to take you seriously, and think of you as an expert in your field, you need to look the part. 

So it pays to make sure your profiles are tidy and up to date. Here are some tips for upgrading your profile on any network.

Be Personable

Use one profile for both personal life and work life, especially on LinkedIn. This will make you seem more approachable, and less like a programmed sales machine. 

For example, if you went skydiving last week, don’t be afraid to post the picture on the network; maybe even attach the experience to your industry or business in some clever caption. 

Look Your Best 

Your profile pictures don’t have to be you dressed in a suit in front of a white background.

Nevertheless, you should look put together and well-dressed, while avoiding distracting backgrounds. 

Also, the picture should be of you alone. Potential employers should not be forced to pick you out among your mates.

Update Frequently 

Your posts should reflect your knowledge and demonstrate your willingness to keep up with new developments in the field.

People are going to look through your experiences to weigh your knowledge and expertise in the industry. They are evaluating whether or not you will actually be a good person to help their business. 

So, keep your profile updated with your latest content, projects, successes, or career changes. 

3. Connect with Potential Customers on Linkedin

As many as 98% of sales reps with 5,000+ Linkedin connections manage to leverage them in meeting their quotas

The more potential buyers you connect with, the more chances you have to establish a relationship with someone who is interested in your company’s offer. 

And if they don’t say they are interested from the start, they will still see your posts and content, which down the line could influence them to reach out about learning more. 

However, this stat doesn’t mean that you should spam everyone with cookie-cutter connection requests. 

Instead, you need to take a personalized approach to the connection process, just as you would when sending an email to a prospect. Follow these steps to add connections.

  1. Create a list of leads: Make sure they fit your ideal customer profile. If you sold property management tech, they would be decision-makers or influencers in property management. To find them, use a tool like Soleadify, which provides you with thousands of good-fit leads to connect with.
  1. Research the lead: Go through their LinkedIn profile and find some information you can use to start a conversation. This could be where they went to college, mutual connections, a piece of content they wrote, or some news about their company. 
  1. Write a message: Use that information to create a message. And end the message with a request to connect. You are not selling your solution just yet, merely asking to connect. 

Superoffice brings this example of a Linkedin connection request:

You can also mention to them that you regularly post content you think they would find helpful. That gives them another reason to connect with you other than both belonging to the same industry. 

4. Set up Social Listening Alerts

Social listening is the act of monitoring social networks for mentions of your brand, services, competitors, pain points you solve, or any other keywords of interest. 

That way, when someone mentions your company, you can easily respond and mark them as a lead. 

For instance, if someone posted, “Anyone ever used {your company}?”, you would get an alert. Then you could see the conversation that followed, and contact the person who asked the question. 

There are some great tools for social listening alerts: 

  1. Hootsuite: You can use Hootsuite to set up social media streams that monitor conversations, keywords, mentions, and hashtags. Hootsuite also lets you respond to these mentions right from the platform, so you don’t have to open up a new tab for each social media channel. 
  1. ReviewTrackers: ReviewTrackers allows you to monitor reviews from more than 50 review sites. From these reviews, you can get valuable feedback. 

Social listening gives you knowledge—and knowledge is power. In this case, it is the power to spot more high-quality leads. 

Related: How to Generate B2B Sales Leads 

5. Focus On Building Relationships, Not Selling

People are besieged with sales messages day after day on LinkedIn. But, they aren’t coming to the platform to shop. They are coming to connect with others. So, salespeople need to meet them where they are. 

Sales should be the aftermath of a relationship, not the other way around. 

Your first task on social media is to build relationships with industry professionals. 

The relationship should be founded on mutual respect, shared interests, and a desire to work together to advance the industry, not your service. 

If you go into social selling with a focus on building relationships and refrain from even mentioning your services, you will start to see inbound requests for sales. 

It could be 3, 6, or 9 months after connecting. 

But, if you stay consistent, sending a prospect some useful articles, commenting on their posts, and showing interest in their work, one day they might reach out to you for help. 

Or, when you ask for their business, they will feel so comfortable with you that they will just have to say yes to an introductory meeting. 

6. Give More Than You Get

If you want to come across as a trusted advisor in your field, you need to deliver consistent value to your connections in the network. You need to deliver more value than you receive. 

You can provide value in many ways: 

  • Advising: If anyone posts a question that is relevant to what your business provides, give them an answer. You can even direct message them and ask if they would be open to a longer call to discuss solutions to their issue. 
  • Teaching: Share content, from blog posts to how-to videos, that will educate your followers and connections. If they have been suffering from a business problem and your content helps them solve it, they are more likely to buy from you in the future. 
  • Speak from experience: Share experiences you have had within your industry. These could be insights you have gained, such as common problems, new ways of doing business, or predictions about the trajectory of the industry. 

For example, if you noticed a big problem that’s draining many of your clients’ productivity, let your network know, and provide some solutions. 

Whenever someone helps you, you have the urge to return the favor. The same is true for your prospects. It’s the psychological law of reciprocity at work. 

They will be open to starting a conversation with a sales rep who has provided them with a constant value, free of charge. 

7. Share Relevant Content to Build Credibility and Trust

Sharing content on social media builds both credibility and trust. Of course, make sure the content is something your target audience will take an interest in. 

Giraffe fight videos might not be the best option for a fintech company. Instead, such companies might share content about advances in bitcoin technology or a guide on upgrading your invoice system. 

Also, you can share content that wasn’t created by your brand. 

Share third-party content such as reports or news articles that you think your readers will find useful. This will help you come across as less salesy. 

When you share content, be sure to caption it with your takeaway. Keep this to a few sentences. 

Tips for Building Credibility

You can build credibility for your brand by sharing success stories and customer case studies

When clients see many of their peers and competitors using your solution and seeing results, they are going to want to get in on the action. 

Also, research suggests that 92% of buyers trust recommendations from their peers. 

Tips for Building Trust

You can build trust through educational blog posts and videos that don’t necessarily sell your solution but instead teach the audience something new. 

If you do this, you will be seen as a helpful problem-solver rather than someone trying to rake in sales, which will, funnily enough, help you do just that. 

Also, when you let your personality shine through, your customers are going to trust you more. 

When you show your passions and personality traits, there is a higher chance that you and the prospect have something in common—and commonalities lead to trust. 

8. Create a Content Schedule 

To become a well-known value-provider on the social network, you need to interact regularly with your peers and prospects on social media. A content schedule will help you do that. 

With a social media content schedule, you know what you are posting each day of the week. It takes the guesswork out of it. 

You can even give themes to certain days, so Monday could be case study day, and every other Wednesday can be wacky Wednesday, where you share some of the craziest stories from the industry. 

Of course, this strict schedule isn’t necessary for success. 

What really matters is that you are posting interesting content on a consistent basis so that your prospects get comfortable with you and your brand. 

9. Join Relevant Groups and Engage With Members

Go to some of your top leads’ profile pages and figure out what groups they are in. Then, join the groups if they look relevant to your industry. 

Discussions and conversations in these groups will act as arenas for you to interact with potential buyers. 

If there are other larger groups that are known in your industry, join those too. They will help you stay on top of industry trends, and even better, the problems the industry is facing. 

When you join the groups, you should post and comment with a sense of awareness. Don’t make salesy comments or write a pitch post. 

The group isn’t there to shop, so make sure you are using the group to foster connection and build your credibility. Do this by commenting on posts with your insights or sharing creative ways to solve a problem. 

Or simply sit back, observe, and take notes. 

Pro Tip: Prospects want a sales rep who is in touch with the industry. To capitalize on this desire, try this technique. 

At the beginning of a sales meeting, bring up a discussion you encountered in a relevant social group, and ask them what they think about it. 

You accomplish three things here: you engage them, you display your industry awareness, and you create a base for a conversation that will build rapport and trust. 

10. Actively Respond to Customer Complaints

Customer complaints are frustrating. They can tarnish your brand name, hurting your chances of future sales. So you need a way to mitigate the effects of a complaint about your product or service. 

The best thing to do is to respond to the customer complaint quickly. If done right, you can sometimes use a complaint to actually boost support for your brand. 

Here are some best practices for crafting your replies.

Own Your Mistakes 

If you actually messed up, own it, and let the customer know you are fixing the problem right now. 

Taking responsibility for errors will make other prospects who witness the complaint see your company as a business with integrity that cares deeply about its user base. 

Move the Conversation Offline

If the complaint is very damaging, it is best to message the customer in private, so as not to escalate the matter and attract more comments. 

By addressing it behind the scenes, you’re doing damage control and protecting your company’s reputation. 

On the other hand, you’re still showing a willingness to take responsibility and help the customer who suffered damage. Do it right, and you will potentially even repair the damaged relationship in the end.

Personalize Responses

When customers post about a problem with your service, what they really want is for you to acknowledge the inconvenience you caused them. 

An acknowledgment will diffuse the tension, especially if you respond using a conversational tone. 

No company is free from complaints, so it is best to swallow your pride and deal with them in an honest, caring way. 

11. Monitor Your Engagement and Interactions

You probably know the age-old adage that you can only improve what you track. This goes for social selling too. 

Analyzing your results will help you find areas for improvement and points to lean into. 

For example, if you find that your blog posts about a certain topic get the most interactions and engagement, start posting more of that content

To illustrate this analysis process, here is a hypothetical. 

Maybe a marketing agency’s content about hosting virtual events is getting more hits than content about Google Ads. In that case, the agency would do some digging to figure out why the virtual event posts are getting more traffic. 

Through analysis, they might find that it’s because so many people are working from home. From now on, the agency would do well to divert more energy into creating posts that help companies work from home. 

Insights like these come slowly. 

Only after you have posted a considerable amount of content will you begin to see the patterns. So don’t be upset if you are walking in the dark right now. After enough time and experience, you will know which type of content to invest in. 

12. Be Patient and Consistent

When you first jump into social selling, it will be hard to tell if you are actually producing results. That is because it takes months to build a large enough presence or strong enough connections to start seeing leads trickle in or connections turn into prospects. 

The key is to stay consistent, even when you feel like your connection requests and comments are failing to make a difference. 

You need to slowly build a social media presence, and down the line, it will pay off. 

For example, that lead with whom you shared 4 pieces of content, might decide that today is the day they want to respond to your LinkedIn messages and check out what your company has to offer. 

Or, let’s say you sell cybersecurity software. 

Perhaps one prospect has been paying attention to your content but thought they had no need for protection from cyber attacks. Then, one day their company information gets stolen. 

Guess whose service is going to come to mind? 

To stay consistent, build a plan for incorporating social selling into your day. 

Here is an example of a daily social selling routine from Ben Martin. He does it every morning and says it takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes.

  1. Look for interesting content to share.
  2. Share it with your social networks.
  3. Check the viewers of your LinkedIn profile.
  4. Send a connection request to any good-fit prospects among those who looked at your profile.
  5. Look at who liked or commented on your posts.
  6. Send connection requests to people who engage with your content.
  7. Review LinkedIn alerts.
  8. Organize “hot leads” in a folder.
  9. Share content with those people.
  10. Review any additional trigger event alerts.
  11. Respond to messages.
  12. Start some new conversations. 

Incorporate these steps into your routine, and you’re sure to start getting results, perhaps even sooner than you thought.

Recommended reading: Types of Sales Leads 101: The Essential Guide 

The Power of Networking

Has anyone ever told you to get out there and network because it’s who you know, not what you know, that matters? Conferences, trade shows, and meetups might have come to mind. 

The good news is that networking has never been easier, and you can do it right from the comfort of your desk. Social selling basically is networking. 

So, starting today, begin putting yourself out there. Share your opinions, your ideas, and your insights with industry peers and prospects. 

Sooner or later, they will take notice. Decision-makers and executives will find you informative and want a meeting.