5 Tips for Leveraging Social Networks to Sell

By Selling Power Editors

Are you making it difficult for prospects and customers to find you online? According to a recent white paper, “Social Selling: How to Connect and Engage with the Modern Buyer,” from InsideView, sales executives and B2B companies that “lack an established social media presence” are “far less capable of effectively gaining the attention of prospects who are already fully engaged on the social Web.”

Understanding and successfully using social selling is as important to today’s sales organizations as understanding and using the telephone was in previous generations, and there are concrete results to be realized from proper implementation of proven social selling strategies. As the authors of the white paper put it: “The measure of social selling success is not in how quickly one can leave the old behind; it is in how well one can use existing sales principles to adapt to a new arena that offers a very powerful and efficient way to engage customers, shorten sales cycles, and increase revenue.”

But incorporating a social selling initiative in your own sales organization can seem like a daunting task. There are, after all, scores of possible channels and just so many hours in the day. Before you jump in with both feet, read this list of five steps to get your team started with social selling today:

1. Evaluate what you’re already doing. Many people on your team probably already use LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, etc. Take stock of how you’re currently connecting with and listening to customers, and see what seems to be working. Where are you successfully engaging and building relationships with prospects and customers?

2. Start by listening. Just as you wouldn’t run into a cocktail party and start shoving your business card under everyone’s noses, don’t jump on Twitter and start jabbering about your business. Instead, listen to what your target market is saying. Get a sense for who the mouthpieces are for your customers, and their styles of communication and interaction.

3. Share information. Create a way for your team members to share information internally. There are a variety of CRM-compatible tools to facilitate the tracking and sharing of information, company-wide. So, if your marketing manager meets a prospect at a trade show who loves to ride horses, that information can be entered into a collaborative database and used to strengthen ties during follow up calls.

4. Commit to the process. Building relationships online is not something you can do all at once. Realize you may not see the payoff right away, and commit to three to six months before you evaluate your efforts.

5. Commit to evolution. Your team’s social selling skills will need to evolve with the Web. Prepare to invest time and effort in updating your social selling strategy, learning about new tools, and keeping skills sharp.