B2B Social Selling as easy as 1,2,3

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Is your Brand on Twitter? (Photo credit: The Next Web)

When I tell sales teams about the multi-million dollar deal I closed thanks to social selling it gets their attention. Up to that point, I get a lot of disinterested looks when I discuss engaging personally with clients and companies through social platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.  Yes, I even get some eyeball rolling.  However, salespeople are capable of intently listening when money is at stake.  But just in case, I keep it easy for them by telling them the method for engagement is as easy as 1,2,3.

Step One: Build Persona

Many salespeople have larger than life personas to begin with, but when you look at them through the lens of their social sites they often don’t stand out as someone you would want to engage with. This is because they don’t rely on social media to communicate with their audience. Of all the business functions, salespeople rely on their in-person skills the most.  They enjoy one-on-one time with people.  Talking on the phone and conversing in writing are a distant second and third for salespeople.

So, I coach our sales teams to spruce up their on-line image as a first step. In doing so I tell them to be real, be credible and be alive. The first order of business is getting a good head-shot loaded onto Linked, Twitter, etc. It may cost money to get a decent picture, but a shot of you and Mickey Mouse from last year’s Disney vacation with the kids does not help at all.

Secondly, in addition to work experience,  I tell them to make sure to share something personal in their bio section that gives people a hint that they are flesh and blood. Telling people about your love of birding or old movies brings you to life in a way that no amount of documented awards and recognition can. Finally, I tell the teams they need to be ready to be consistently active on these social sites, but more on that in step 3.

Step Two: Get Connected

A beautiful profile on social media means very little if  you do not have an audience.   My tactics are simple and genuine to build a network full of real and like-minded people who you actually enjoy interacting with.  In LinkedIn I recommend first researching people of interest at your customer, in your industry and at  your employer. Then (and here comes the shocker!) DON’T ask to connect!  Instead, see what groups they belong to and join those groups.  Now you are not only unobtrusively attached to the people you want to converse with, but also with potentially thousands of their friends and associates.   Twitter is a bit more sublime, but the general idea is the same.  I suggest following people of interest and paying close attention to their activity.  My other tip is to grow slowly in Twitter.  Sure,  you can buy thousands of followers on Twitter, but what is the point? Again, the purpose of a network is to interact with each other and share ideas. Buying a group of friends has never worked and never will.

Step Three: Take Action

Now that you have a great profile and are connected to a receptive audience it is time to mingle.  Starting out with ‘likes’ on LinkedIn group content and ‘retweets’ in Twitter is a good baby step. The next step is replying and adding to the posts with your own ideas. The final step is posting your own content or finding interesting content for the group and post it. Note, this does not mean posting headlines from the Wall Street Journal! Everyone has seen that, try posting an article from a smaller journal or an article that puts a new spin on the front page news. The best kind of content is helpful insight that praises existing works or calls the reader to action to change how they are doing things today. This idea resonates well with sales people, because these are typical starting points for sales discussions.  Once you have been part of the dialog in a group or conversed with someone on Twitter, it is ok to ask for more from the relationship.  If the sales person takes her time and proves herself to be a thought-leader, clients are much more receptive to taking a meeting or giving an introduction to the proper budget owner.

Let me know what you think?  It may seem simplistic, but do you agree that many in B2B sales are missing these steps?  Would some training in going social help your sales team modernize and become more productive?  Reach out to the great staff at Savvy with more questions and ideas.

Comments

  1. Sanjeev says:

    A good simple approach. It may be useful to caution that image and relationships take time to built and patience and regular activity on the social network is the key. A good option is to share industry specific news which may not be carried in the media but is of interest to your audience

  2. I would add one more step to your suggestion re: LinkedIn groups. I would do some research on the group first and see if people are interacting in discussions. It seems that many of the guru LinkedIn courses end up teaching people to spam groups with their blog posts, and that’s causing people to stop getting involved in those groups.

    It’s important to be discerning about groups if you actually want to engage in important conversations.

    Jeff

    • I agree. I belong to some vibrant groups and others which are overrun with spammers. You have it right, people ‘give up’ on those groups and move to others. Getting comments to your posts or comments is a sure way to test vibrancy.

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