So we know that #socialselling is a real thing, and that more and more sales professionals are making #content a vital part of their sales strategy. With the increasing importance of content marketing in sales (once considered the Marketing department’s domain alone), those who neglect to implement their own social selling process will find themselves closing fewer deals than their more social-minded competitors (we mean colleagues!). If 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers, and social sellers are 6 times more likely to exceed their quota (asalesguyconsulting.com), we can really only infer one thing – to successfully close those deals, get on board NOW.

To get you on your social selling way, below is a general social selling process that can (and should) be tweaked according to the type of person you are and the industry you are in. The most important thing to remember though – this is a nurturing strategy. In other words, it is an on-going investment and it can take time before you see results.

  1. Identify who your audience is

Social selling is a technique/process that is time-consuming and based on looking at your leads as people first, and then potential customers. Identify who your target audience is by understanding who will benefit from the product or service you are selling.  Build profiles of your potential customers so that you understand their needs and interests (related to and unrelated to, the product).

Sounds easy right? I mean come on, what Sales Person can’t tell you who their customers are and what their biggest concern is? Shockingly, Hubspot shares that 40% of salespeople lack the necessary skills to have customer empathy and understand prospect pain. If the majority of people are making purchasing decisions to solve a problem and only a much smaller percentage in order to gain something, this lack of audience understanding is severely limiting. Simply offering a price reduction or free upgrade won’t cut it.

  1. Find the people who match the criteria in your audience definition

Now that you have a good idea of who you want to sell to, and what need you are answering, you have to spend the time finding these people. Remember, on social media, people have volunteered information about themselves. It is all out there and you simply need to take advantage of it. Caveat –  it does take time to sift through all the information so you really do want to narrow your search to the right audience. Don’t waste your time on the wrong people. Use technologies like social media monitoring software to make sure you are looking in the right place.

Warning – if you skip step one, or you don’t do your profile building correctly, you can end up social-approaching everyone or the wrong people. Select the right people from the beginning and network with them. If a person isn’t the right fit for your product, no amount of social selling is going to transform them.

  1. Get in their line of sight

The social selling approach relies on the trust and belief a lead has in you. Are you who you say you are, and are you adding value. Second to that is the company you represent. Using your own personal (and please, professional) social media channels, find your people and very softly connect with them.

Recommended first approaches are:

  • Favour one of their tweets

  • Retweet something they put out

  • Comment on a blog post

The goal is to get in front of them as a follower (note we said follower, not stalker or broadcaster of products. Fine line, learn how to walk it!).

  1. Contextualise your professional approach

You have listened, you have identified your audience and you have tried to get in their line of sight. Now you start reaching out to them more directly through LinkedIn and Twitter (yes, Twitter can also be used in a professional way). Based on what you have picked up on their social media platforms, suggest something they may be interested in reading – an article or a blog or even a white paper. Better yet, base your approach on the tweet you already favoured, or their blog post that you commented on in step 3.

Why is this important? Basically, it contextualizes your approach. It is still not a direct sales tool and the content you are sharing should still be general (not related to your product). You are now in a position to stay in front of them while maintaining an element of professionalism. You are adding value to a conversation. Use terminology that drives engagement like “I thought of you when I read this” or “Thought you may find this useful”. In other words, speak to them, be relevant for them and invite a response. And remember, although you are connecting on social media, they are not your friend and you MUST avoid mentioning anything personal, sensitive or inappropriate. Social selling is only effective if it is done right.

  1. Go in for the sell

Yes! Now you can go in for the sale. How do you do this? (not that you experienced sellers need any help in this arena!).

Search your content database (all those white papers, pricing pages, feature descriptions and competitor comparison tables your Marketing department have worked so hard on) and select a piece of relevant content and send it to them as part of the conversation. Perhaps a case study that would speak to their needs specifically, since you have already done your homework and know exactly what need or concern they have, which your product can answer.

And I repeat, this is a lead nurturing process too, so it doesn’t start and end in a straight line. Use statistics, analytics and social media monitoring tools to keep improving and refining your strategy (and perhaps even platform choices) so you are able to close the deal when you get to step 5. Don’t be the last seller to board the train, start creating your social strategy now. Happy social selling!

Stacey Berold-Kutscher

A content and cupcake enthusiast who enjoys reading, writing and losing myself in nonsense TV shows. Lover of, and believer in, the written word. And with a whole lot of Digital and Inbound Marketing experience too.

More Posts - Website

  • http://EdBisquera.com/ Ed Bisquera

    Great, easy to understand post on the social selling process, Stacey.

    Being able to define and create profile personas that are being targeted for one’s company, product or service, helps focus the time and energy on social to find and interact with just these people.

    One thing to note, that using the profile personas helps in doing keyword research as well. Along with Moz.com’s tools (like Followerwonk.com) I like using tools such as SEMRush.com, Nimble.com (a great social CRM, that’s affordably priced) and Google Trends.

    Thanks for sharing this step-by-step process at using social selling effectively! 🙂

    • Stacey Berold-Kutscher

      Thanks Ed, appreciate it!

      The level that we can drill down to in social selling is today, pretty incredible. The technology available to harness this information makes our lives much easier, if used correctly. Sendible.com (I may be just a bit biased!) also has this functionality built into its contact list, automatically drawing the deeper social information for each contact.

      Although I totally support integrating technologies into a social selling process, for beginners, I would start with just one simple app first :-).

  • http://greghyer.com/ Greg Hyer

    Stacey, thank you for pointing out that social selling is a nurturing strategy. I’d add that social selling is not a closing strategy. The one of the most important skills a social selling sales pro should have is relationship building. This applies to both external and internal customers.

    Sales should work closer with Marketing to get an understanding of the personas that are right to reach out to. There’s a good chance Marketing has done a bunch of this research already. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give feedback. Marketing needs to know what is and isn’t working on the sales-front, especially when it comes to content.

    • Stacey Berold-Kutscher

      Hi Greg – you are absolutely right, its main aim is to build relationships and can be time-consuming. In other words, not a quick win! The lines between Marketing and Sales have certainly blurred over the last few years, with content becoming the most important tool we have at our disposal. For us in Marketing, the feedback from sales is invaluable – what we get from the front lines helps us tweak and refine our content (and sometimes even rethink it altogether). There is definitely no substitute for close cooperation and collaboration between the two departments.