Social Selling: 3 Questions & Answers

There’s been quite a bit written recently about social selling – that is, using social media to help companies and salespeople drive revenue. Much of the advice is targeted at companies -- with tips on how to have conversations with prospects/clients through social media. I’m much more interested in how individual reps can use social media to their advantage.

A few thoughts:

1.  Which social networks should I be posting on?

I've written in the past about social graphs. You need to decide on the audience that you'll interact with in each social network. For me, at a high level, I interact with people I know professionally on LinkedIn, pretty much anyone on Twitter, friends and acquaintances on Facebook and only very close friends on Foursquare. You can view a list of my social networks on my About page.

It seems to me that the best social network to talk to your prospects and clients is LinkedIn and possibly Twitter. Your prospects/clients, for the most part, don't need to see your Facebook photos.

2.  What is the point of social selling?

So often I hear salespeople talking about how their clients/prospects just “don’t get it”. They have an awesome solution to their problem but their contact just doesn’t see it. It’s not that the contact is stupid, it’s that they’re looking at the problem through a much different lens. As a result, they don’t see your solution as the clear answer. Using social media intelligently is a great way to slowly and steadily begin to get your clients/prospects to see their problems through your lens. That isn’t to say you should be posting things to try to sell or to teach people something they don’t know.  Instead, the approach is to show your audience how you see things and let them come on board with your way of thinking at their own pace. Social sales is a very passive form of "drip marketing". I've written a few posts on drip marketing -- check them out to get some more context on this -- you can find them here, here and here.

3.  What kinds of things should I be posting?

Knowing that the goal is to attempt to get your clients/prospects to see the problem the way you see the problem, you should post links to intelligent articles, blog posts, white papers, etc. related to the problem that your product addresses. Don't be afraid to widen your problem into other areas -- you don't want to appear to focused on your own small world. The critical thing here though is to never just post a link. Post a short note about the topic with your take on it or a quick introduction as to why people should find it interesting. The point is that it's interesting to you and something you're passionate about so you want to share it with your network. Finally, if your company gets some good press, I'd advocate posting links to those articles and videos on your social networks. Don't overdo it and post it in a humble way, but allowing your clients/prospects to see what others are saying about you and your company is another effective and passive way to help clients/prospect see you in a better light.

In short, social sales is not going to close deals. But if done well it's a great way to get your clients/prospects to change the perception of their problem, your solutions, your company and you in a favorable way.