12 Social Selling Tips for Padawan Learners

I have embraced social selling. Practicing it has opened doors for clients and produced freelance and full-time opportunities. Social selling techniques and activities are opportunities for growth. They will help you improve, warm up, and build relationships with people.

I prefer a balanced outbound and inbound strategy that includes many approaches.

Give these 12 methods a shot and watch your results improve:

1. Stand Out: Build and Own Your Personal Brand.

  • Optimize customer-centric digital profiles on social networks.
  • Own your online reputation; for examples, see:

How to Create an All-Star LinkedIn Profile [Infographic] by Melonie Dodaro

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for LinkedIn [Infographic] by Koka Sexton

To increase connect-and-response rates, you need to represent yourself as a credible authority, resource, and trusted advisor. Buyers trust peer recommendations. Ask folks who know your work to recommend you online. The “social proof” of what others say about you is more impressive than what you say about yourself.

2. Do Research: Gain Insightful Business Knowledge of Target Prospects/Organizations.

Do this via their Web sites, About Us pages, biographies, press/news pages, blogs, annual reports, etc.

3. Setup Google Alerts: Be On-Top of Industry/Organization/Prospect Trigger Events.

Common triggers are new funding, growth, job changes, relocations, new hires, new product and/or service launches, etc.

4. Do More Research: Reading, Listening, Learning.

Follow and engage with prospects, customers, influencers, and organizations on their preferred social media channels, such as LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, Medium, Quora, Google+, Facebook, YouTube, and other industry-specific forums. Become familiar with their industry, interests, and personalities. Interact and vote their answers up. Like, comment, and share their content as appropriate.

5. Leverage Network Connections: Use Relationships to Gain Introductions to Prospects.

In relation to asking for help, always be giving and generous with your time. Pay it forward and help others with no expectations…you may not get a thank you, but continue being a giver.

6. Compliment/Congratulate Prospects’ Organization/Strategy/Product.

Test various delivery methods, such as email, LinkedIn InMail, Twitter DM, direct mail, text, video, phone, etc. Capture attention in seconds by proving you have done your homework. Drop cogent data points about prospects and their organization.

7. Leverage Video.

Years ago, influencers predicted video would become a part of the business-to-business community. At the time it was only seen in the business-to-consumer community. Now personalized videos are being created by Sales Development Representatives and Account Executives. They are bringing back human-to-human connections so are becoming more prevalent in business-to-business. Impactful storytelling videos are being crafted with recording and sharing platforms: Vidyard, Wistia, ilos, OneMob, Cincopa, etc., plus free Google Chrome extensions such as Vidyard GoVideo, Wistia Soapbox, Loom, etc., are popular.

8. Always Bring Value: Educate Prospects Sharing Content Relevant to their Role/Industry.

Share content that you, others in your organization, or even someone outside of your organization created. Provide value and help your prospective contacts improve their personal and professional brand. For more tips, see my LinkedIn post: 7 Tips for More Effective B2B Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Marketing, & Sales

9. Use the Phone: Have a Conversation

The phone is still a critical go-to-market tool. Compelling and personalized voicemail messages and great storytelling work. While asking the right questions helps you zero in on understanding how you can best help others.

10. Navigate Organizational Hierarchies: Create Allies Along the Way.

Communicate with prospects and their staff. Gain business intelligence and advice. Know how to influence, build trust, and be relevant to the primary decision maker or committee.

11. Always Be Networking: Online & Offline.

I love it when strangers approach me and say, “You are known for connecting and helping people. Can you help me?” Ask people you meet in-person or on-the-phone to connect on digital networks. Send personalized requests. Do not use the standard generic request to connect. Be authentic and write a personal note.

12. Apply Social Selling During Every Stage of the Sales Cycle.

Social Selling is not only about prospecting or lead generation at the top of the sales funnel. Even after a customer relationship is well established continue to educate and bring fresh ideas. Be a resource throughout the buyer’s journey.

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For a high-quality sales pipeline, practice these tips (and check out the bonus list and videos!) to grow revenue and gain more prospects, customers, and advocates.

Bonus 1: Social Selling and Marketing Jedi Council List

The following lists contain LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. The lists include over 30 Jedi’s that drop serious knowledge. I learn a lot from these Jedi’s stellar content! Special thanks to council members that contributed some sage quotes.

“Much to learn, you still have…” — Yoda

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“Communicating with an audience-first mentality is an important mindset for any content program because it means we are putting the needs of our audience above our own.

It’s often a subtle shift, but a significant one: What does our audience need from us? What will they value? How can we improve their lives?” Ann Handley @MarketingProfs

“Educate and inform instead of interrupt and sell.” David Meerman Scott @dmscott

“If your content doesn’t position you as visible, valuable, and connected – you’re just adding to the noise.”Jack Kosakowski @JackKosakowski

“Every business is simply a collection of great people. Social selling lets you prove that.” Jay Baer @jaybaer

“Make deposits before asking for withdraws.” Jill Rowley @jill_rowley

“My Social Selling Mantra is that “Service is the New Selling”. I truly believe that we’re on this planet to help others grow. If you can figure out a way to help other people grow at scale, you will build a Goldmine.”Jon Ferrara @Jon_Ferrara

“The definition of Social Selling is simple, straightforward and uncomplicated: Social Selling is leveraging social media to generate revenue. That’s it.

The relationships formed and the activities conducted on social media and across the internet are measurable, quantifiable data points that marketing and sales must use in their daily workflow to generate revenue.

Buyer intent data is the new standard in sales data. It enables both the social and non-social sales professional to personalize and leverage real-time conversations wherever and whenever they occur with a greater degree of certainty.” Kevin Thomas Tully @kevinttully

“The key to social selling, and really selling in general, is to only sell a product you actually care about. Social selling is a great tool for magnifying your passion about the industry, the problem, and your solution. If you don’t care, it’ll be apparent. If you do care, it’ll greatly enhance your advantage and not only close deals but generate inbound and referrals.”Max Altschuler @MaxAlts

“Too often we forget that social selling is simply an extension of what we do best — create a meaningful, emotional connection that leads to business benefits. Many turn technology into a customer barrier instead of a conduit by posting out of obligation instead of out of an effort to share value.” Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer

“Reaching out to prospects through cold calling is not nearly as effective as it used to be.

A third (32%) of business decision makers would respond to a cold call less than ten percent of the time. However, they are more likely to respond to someone that was introduced through their professional network. (Source: The State of Sales 2017)

The key to effective social selling is to leverage third-party credibility in the form of introductions and referrals. Tap into your network to see who your connections know that they can introduce you to.” Melonie Dodaro @MelonieDodaro

“Leaders need to get off the social sidelines. Your spectator days are numbered. You need to be trained in social media and learn how to write effectively. You need to have the courage to share your experiences and opinions. The brands that are winning are the ones where leaders are going all in on personal branding and stepping into the social media spotlight.” Michaela Alexis @mickalexis

“From an executive perspective, the key to exceptional social selling and marketing is the alignment of your sales and marketing organization. When sales and marketing are collaborating, it is a win-win for successful social selling AND B2B social media marketing.” Neal Schaffer @NealSchaffer

“If you’re in Sales or Marketing, and who isn’t these days, you need to make sure you’re A.T.O.M.I.C., Always Top Of Mind In your Community. When your subject is mentioned anywhere and someone from your network is in the room, will they a) think of you b) mention you c) highly recommend you. If your answer is C, you never need to do acquisition again as your network is actively selling you in the most positive way.” Perry van Beek  @perryvanbeek

“Add value, not volume – as you’re trying to build relationships to social sell with, remember your goal is to add as much value as you can so they will take your call, respond to your email, and eventually, do business with you.

Everything you do should be around the value you can add and the benefits they can receive if they choose to do business with you. Don’t send message after message, counting out loud how many times you’ve touched base with them. Only when you’ve added enough value to the relationship have you earned the right to their most valuable asset: their time and attention.” Phil Gerbyshak @PhilGerb

“Why most people won’t accept the first meeting on a LinkedIn connection request or InMail.

It has nothing to do with your message. It has everything to do with the fact you have not earned the right to ask for the meeting. You must prove you are worth. This doesn’t mean you are in a weaker position, although that is what many feel. It means you need to present yourself and your company with courage and confidence.

Remember people will accept meetings with strangers if they feel they can learn something from them.” Richard Harris @rharris415

“Digital tools like social give us infinitely better ways to understand where our customers are coming from. However, there are still those lazy marketers out there who use social as a blast advertising medium, and lazy salespeople who don’t use social to get to know their customer before they pitch them. In fact, the term Social Selling bothers me because many people just want to know how to use social platforms to “sell.”

The explosion of digital, social and mobile technology didn’t make buyers grow three heads

Instead, we should be learning how to use social for the essential work of getting to know our prospects and customers. We need to use these fabulous tools to listen—and listen closely—to what buyers want. There is so much we can learn if we just shut up and listen!

What used to take us weeks of pouring through research now takes us a fraction of the time studying profiles, sifting through conversations and reaching out to ask questions and add value. The modern buyer doesn’t want to hear your pitch—he’s done his own research online, and will ask the advice of friends and connections before he’s ready to buy. What he wants from you is value and information he can trust when making that decision. He wants you to know where he’s coming from.

Sure, advertising has its place. It always has and always will. But social gives us unprecedented opportunities to delve into our customer’s “why.” We’ve never been able to connect personally with as many people and find out so much about them as we can through today’s technologies. It’s a fantastic launch pad for doing something we’ve always had to do before we could get a prospect to buy from us—build relationships.

Social selling isn’t really about selling at all. It’s about being social, connecting, interacting, engaging and building relationships. So yes, social has turned the marketing world upside down, but not because we can get in front of more people. It has revolutionized marketing and sales because it allows us to find out more.

We now have larger amounts of data, platforms and apps available to allow us to get to know who our customer/prospect is. What interests them? What are their pain points? What causes them joy? Being fully connected and plugged-in in a connected world helps us not just talk to people, but to listen to them.

When we start using these tools to listen and add value—to study and understand who our customers really are—that’s when the magic will happen.

Relationships are like muscle tissue… the more they are engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become.” Ted Rubin @TedRubin

“Social Selling isn’t a tool or an SSI score, it’s a change of way of working. Why do we need to embrace it? The internet has changed the way people buy and as sales people we have to respond. But it does not replace any of our “sales” skills. We still need to close deals, articulate complex solutions, write management summaries. Social Selling does not invalidate it enhances us. We are truly entering the golden age of selling!” Tim Hughes @Timothy_Hughes (note: I highly recommend Tim’s fantastic and useful book Social Selling – Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers.)  

Subscribe to my public Twitter List: Social Selling and Marketing Jedi Council.

Bonus 2: Two Enlightening Social Selling and Marketing Videos

Watch Jack Kosakowski on the SDR Chronicles drop knowledge on social selling and how to do it the right!

Here is a great and useful social selling video from a Sales Stack conference: How Top Social Sellers Close Deals by Delivering Value. Ken Krogue, Koka Sexton, and Jill Rowley discuss social selling with Jamie Shanks. It’s jam-packed with great information and well worth watching.

Bonus 3: Social Selling Infographic

What Social Selling is. And isn’t. [infographic] by Alexander Low

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“Always pass on what you have learned.” — Yoda