How to Master the Basics of Good Social Selling

By Ned Leutz

What’s the biggest reason to raise your social selling game? Business customers (like everyone else) are becoming resistant to traditional sales and marketing tactics. That means it has become critical to engage in more personal, creative, and effective ways.

Success, however, requires more than friending or following a prospect on Facebook or Twitter and spamming them on LinkedIn.

The good news is social selling can be as easy as ABC – or is that L.E.E.D.?

I’ll be honest: I just made L.E.E.D. up – but hold tight and hear me out. “L.E.E.D.” stands for Learn, Engage, Educate, and Deal: the factors that go into any good relationship with a prospect. Social simply makes each of them easier to execute and more rewarding in practice. Here’s how.

Learn – Getting to know the customer has never been easier. LinkedIn gives you their professional background; Facebook gives you a glimpse of their personal world; and Twitter can tell you what your customer thinks in 280 characters.

It’s not just learning about customers as people, but also about their companies, their industries, their competitors, etc. This isn’t a one-off exercise, though; things change, companies grow, people move. You need to stay on top of these things 24/7. Thankfully, social tools make this a relative snap. (Not to toot my own horn too much, the right platforms and tools can help your diligent inside sales team keep up.)

Engage With all that rich fodder, you might think it’s time to jump in with both feet. But hold your horses! Social selling isn’t just you reaching out to them; it’s also about how they experience you. According to “New Tech: B2B Social Selling Tools, Q1 2018,” a study by Forrester, social allows you, the salesperson, to create an authentic presence for customers and prospects.

Take a few moments and consider this. Just as you are likely to research your prospects, your prospects are likely to research you. Now decide how well your social channels reflect how you would like business partners to view you.

With your authentic presence now all spic and span, begin engagement. Use your knowledge to be empathetic. Listening to their needs is key. You can do so by

  • Following someone on Twitter (or tracking keywords in your market or hashtags from a conference you’re attending)
  • Following LinkedIn groups and individual pages (staying away from Facebook to begin with – that’s just a little too personal)
  • Reading something your prospect posted, then liking it and sharing it. When the moment feels right, message them, friend them, connect – or they may even do the same to you first.

Educate This is where you shine. You have them in the palm of your hand (or at least in your Twitter feed) and can start having an authentic and ongoing conversation about their world, their business, their needs, and how you can help them and their business be more successful.

Because social selling is about establishing an ongoing relationship, the education approach is about sharing relevant information over time. Share content that engages your prospect across channels. It’s magical – or at least a good process to follow before you pick up the phone.

Deal Some call it an art, some a science – but that misses the point. Through social selling (and some time), you’ve built up a comfort level with the prospect. You have demonstrated an ability to hear their problems, understand their needs, suggest some options, explain the benefits, and negotiate some terms within their comfort level and budget. The deal becomes a win-win for both parties. Then, you’re off to the next benchmark and target.

Social selling isn’t a radical transformation by any stretch of the imagination. It’s more a radical transference of what you already do into a new channel. You may already be social selling – if you are, great – but whatever you are doing can be augmented and accelerated. Like everyone, your customers are ignoring their phones and being deluged by emails. Social, done right, opens a new path forward – and one that is only going to become more important moving forward if you embrace the L.E.E.D.

Ned Leutz has spent the past eight years helping ZoomInfo’s customers tackle their database hygiene challenges. As director of sales, Ned oversees the large account segment of ZoomInfo’s market, focusing on new business acquisition.