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The 3 golden rules of social selling

The 3 golden rules of social selling

When I was first introduced to the concept of social selling two years ago I was wary.

Social media to me was about building connections, nurturing relationships, and sharing knowledge. I quickly discovered that these are the exact same tactics and objectives for social selling, and that my initial concerns were unfounded.

So what exactly is social selling? Hubspot defines the term as when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects and provide value by answering questions and offering thoughtful content. This definition is pretty bang on.

There are of course ways in which social selling can be activated with the wrong approach, leaving potential leads cold. For example, what social selling isn’t, is posting “BUY NOW” messages on social media channels, or consistently talking about your brand or products without any other form of content.

Follow my three golden rules of social selling and you’ll maximise your potential for achieving success.

1. Target your audience

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with any social media strategy, selling focused or not, is getting an audience of the wrong people.

Probably the most popular tool for social selling is LinkedIn, and fortunately the platform offers plenty of ways for you to ensure that you’re targeted in your approach.

  • LinkedIn Premium memberships come in many verticals and levels. There is a specific vertical for sales professionals that amongst other benefits allows you more criteria in searching for professionals (including seniority, company size etc.)
  • If using your Company Page for social selling as opposed to an individual’s account, you can target your company updates to certain professionals, and can now even dark post meaning that all your followers not in the target market won’t see the update
  • LinkedIn has thousands of groups on almost every topic you can think of. Selling accounting software? Join groups for accountants and small businesses. Be active and start to build contacts within these niche groups.

If your LinkedIn connections are full of former colleagues and classmates, then you may well be talking to the wrong people. Social selling is not all about the online experience, go to relevant conferences and networking events and ensure that you add potential leads to your LinkedIn account. Remember to always add a note along with your connection request explaining why you want to connect, especially if it’s someone who doesn’t know you.

It’s important to also remember that LinkedIn might not even be the right place to generate leads for your particular business, so consider employing social selling techniques on other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as well.

2. Be patient

I think this can be one of the hardest rules to follow for social sellers. The worst thing you can do is not take your time to build trust with your leads before trying to convert them to a sale. Social selling expert Tom Skotidas suggests that it can take up to 3 months before your lead sees your credibility and is prime for taking to the next level.

It might be tempting to send someone an inMail and straight up ask them for a meeting, but this is definitely the wrong approach. Your lead is cold at this point, and has had no opportunity to warm to you, to trust you, to see that you have value to offer them. You often only get one chance at seizing a meet, so make sure you carefully choose the right time to ‘go in for the kill’.

Keeping a separate spreadsheet can be a useful tool – listing your connections, the date you connected with them, and how many relevant pieces of content you’ve shared they’ve been exposed to. Once you get to the 2-3 month mark you should feel comfortable in making that direct approach.

3. Offer value

So what type of content should you be posting if I said you can’t always be talking about your product? I recommend first looking at the pain points that your target market faces and addressing those through curating third party content or by sharing your own original content. For example, if you sell ergonomic office furniture, you could share content about maintaining a happy and healthy workforce, ways to reduce staff sick leave, and articles that talk about the most impressive office spaces.

Ideally you would not always be sharing content of your own or your business – third party content that supports your point of you adds further credibility.

There are oodles of tools that help you find the right content (my personal favourite is feed.ly) and now you also have the ability to post your own blogs within the LinkedIn platform.

Remember your content doesn’t always need to be written blog posts or articles: SlideShare presentations, white papers, infographics, and videos are just a few other options you have to keep your audience actively engaged with your message.

So there you go, be targeted, patient and offer value, and in turn you’ll acquire leads to take your sales program to a whole new level. How do you feel about using social media as another tool in your sales arsenal? Have you had any success with a social selling approach?

More reading:

How to post content on LinkedIn’s publishing platform (& why you should be)
20 creative ideas for social media content that engages with your customers
How to build a ‘village of support’ for your personal brand
Why trust is the new bottom line and how social media drives it

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Award-winning Australian recruitment agency, Firebrand Talent, ignites the careers of digital, marketing, creative, communications, advertising, & media talent. If you are looking for your next career move, check out the jobs we currently have on in Sydney & Melbourne.

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