How to Social Sell Without Being a Nuisance: 11 Tips Curated from Sales Experts
Sales and customers success representatives with social media savvy tend to outperform their peers, according to data from LinkedIn.
The social network has found “78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.” Similarly, “social selling leaders are 51% more likely to reach quota.”
Yet, social selling is very different from traditional daily sales activities, such as cold calling and qualifying. It’s not about using LinkedIn invitations to hard sell. Social selling is about connecting with prospects and customers to engage and nurture a relationship.
The nuance is subtle but important. It can make a big difference in results sales teams achieve from social selling. To help give you an edge, we’ve culled through dozens of articles and blog posts to curate these timeless social selling tips from sales experts.
1. Fish where the fish are
It almost goes without saying that you want to focus your attention on those social platforms where your customers and prospects congregate. For many Western countries, that automatically means LinkedIn because it tends to be the social network of business.
However, don’t overlook other social sites, says our own Tom Lavery who offers several reasons.
First, you can learn about the personal interests of people you’d like to know – or would like to know better – on other social platforms.
Second, if your prospects are open to engagement on platforms other than LinkedIn, there may be an opportunity to form a more personal connection.
Finally, certain social networks are stronger in specific geographies – Xing in the DACH region and WeChat in China are prime examples.
2. Make a list of dream clients
It doesn’t have to be picked out of thin air either. Many businesses in B2B have a target market, and account-based strategy or have identified characteristics of “right fit” customers. Use this to guide your selection.
Simply following these accounts is useful to stay abreast of their corporate news. That’s a proven way to understand their challenges and opportunities – and think about how your company might help them.
3. Optimize your social media profiles
Writing for HubSpot, Emma Brudner recommends sales reps optimize their social media profiles before engaging in social outreach. She says you’ll be wasting your effort “if you begin your social selling initiative with an outdated or incomplete profile.”
This makes sense, because “profiles should actively help you cultivate a reputation with your buyers as a trusted advisor who brings fresh insights to their business.” That’s hard to achieve with a blurry photo or an incomplete social profile.
Read more: The Sales Playbook to Social Selling
4. Connect with a purpose
Be intentional with whom you choose to connect. Merely connecting with people for connection’s sake is “like shaking someone’s hand at a party but immediately turning around and walking away without saying a word,” says Amy Volas.
She offers three reasons to connect:
- Critical events. “If there was a critical event in their company that got a lot of press, how does that affect them/how do they feel about it? Ask them!”
- Shared interests. “If they commented on something that you find to be equally compelling, this is a great way to trade ideas/notes on the topic. Get in touch and chat about it!”
- Offer to help. “If they were written about in the media/blog article for spearheading a big project or being involved in a philanthropy, offer to pitch in if you have skills that could help.”
If you don’t have a purpose for connecting – then wait until you do. “It will leave a much better impression that way,” she wrote.
5. Listen and learn
There are advantages simply to “listening” on social media before you start sharing content. That’s how John Barrows made the “mental shift” to social selling – he realised the educational value.
“Instead of looking at social selling as purely a way to build my brand and get followers, I looked at it as a way to educate myself first,” he wrote in a blog post. This helps build your “business acumen” to have “more thoughtful and interesting conversations” with prospects and customers.
“So, I started to look for information that I wanted to learn about,” he continued. “I specifically focused on my industry, the personas of people I was trying to connect with, and the industries I was selling into.”
Instead of just sharing content for sharing’s sake, he took the time to truly educate himself on a topic. Only then did he share what he learned with his social community.
“With this approach, I started to build a following of people who engaged with me when I would post something and add their thoughts to it which I would learn even more from.”
6. Engage content your prospects share
Engaging with content posted by your prospects is another technique for getting value out of social media that doesn’t involve sharing. When you do this, you are effectively nurturing relationships.
That sums up Briana Dilworth’s advice in her post for lemlist. She recommends connecting with “your prospects by reading their posts and adding valuable comments. This way you’ll get your name and face out there, but in a way that helps your leads.”
There’s another benefit to this as well, she notes because you also increase “your chances that other people in your target audience will connect with you because they also see your valuable comment.”
7. Give to get
He cites Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., a psychologist who has written bestselling books about persuasion and influence:
“If we seek out and give help to a team member, colleague, or acquaintance, we create a social obligation for that person to help us or support us at a future date.”
Mr. Schultz’s advice for doing that on social media is to share content “that’s 100% customised to the individual’s situation,” or to “offer to make a connection or a referral.” There’s probably a bonus to be had if you have nothing personal to gain.
He concludes, “starting relationships can take many touchpoints. Do this right, and people will perceive you as valuable even before you interact with them personally.”
Read more: Social Selling Tips for Success
8. Favour people over pipeline in outreach
Why? “While that might help you feel like you are building your sales pipeline, you should be more focused on relationships,” he writes.
What should you do instead?
He suggests identifying “your B2B buyer’s pain points and, when possible, offer ideas. Engage with them directly and be on point. For instance, in 2022, martech software sellers know that privacy policies are a pain point for their buyer community because data is drying up.”
On social media sites, that means helping “buyers by offering relevant news, how-to information and, when the time is right, product information.”
Read more: 4 Advanced Social Selling Tips for B2B Pros
9. Check out your customer’s connections
“If you’re looking for referrals, keep an eye out for updates and posts from your existing customers. Then, check out the profiles of LinkedIn users that engage with their content to see if they fit your target audience. Once you’ve found contacts that fit the bill, you can reach out to your customer for an introduction or contact them directly.”
10. Gamify skills learned – not phone calls made
“One of the most memorable sales contests Nikki Ivey has ever participated in was one she didn’t even win,” according to an article by Brian Nordli. Instead, it was a competition to see “who could make the most LinkedIn connections in one evening.”
The team reportedly found it invigorating – a break from smile-and-dial competitions. But more importantly, for Nikki, it taught her about building connections, a crucial skill in social selling.
“It was like, ‘Oh, that’s how simple it is to build this audience, and this could be a way to build a brand, a career or to get more leads,’” she says in the article. In other words, the contest was about “honing a skill that could help her throughout her entire career.”
Last year, we put Nikki on our list of the 10 best sales experts to follow on LinkedIn – and hope you will!
11. Make time for social networking
We inherently know we’ve got to make time for the things we want to do well – and that includes social selling. For busy salespeople, that means putting time on your calendar to network, according to an ebook by Sandler Training:
“Schedule time in your calendar to keep your profile up-to-date and actually engaged in networking activities: add connections you’ve met recently, write, and request recommendations, and send private messages to congratulate your connections on new jobs or work anniversaries.”
There’s another benefit to scheduling time: consistency. Consistency is the key to continuous improvement. Dedicating time to social selling activities means it will become part of your sales workflow and cadence.
Read more: The power of social networking (reg. req.)
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When you think about the fundamentals of consultative sales, social selling is largely an evolution in the sales process. As Jon Ferrara, the CEO of the social CRM software company, Nimble is attributed with saying, “Social selling expands on the age-old basics of getting to know your customers and meeting their needs.”
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like this ebook:
The Top Six Sales Trends of 2022