3 Ways To Leverage Social Media for Sales Success

Can your sales reps scale their efforts by using social media, and if they can, should they? Here's a look at three best practices for sales representatives in the age of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Jessica Davis

May 29, 2013

3 Min Read
3 Ways To Leverage Social Media for Sales Success

Are your sales reps leveraging social media for sales?  More importantly, should they be leveraging services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for sales, or should they shy away from those networks in favor of personal contact. Here’s a look at how the rise of social media may have changed the sales process and what your company should do to take advantage of those changes.

Plenty of companies dipped their toes in the social media pool via social media monitoring. You’ve got a Facebook page and a Twitter handle for your company and you track activity there. Enterprise software vendor Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih says that many companies have found ways to brand themselves as trusted advisors and subject matter experts through the sue of social media. First published at the Harvard Business Review blogs, she offers the following three best practices for salespeople to be successful in their use of social media.

Be findable and credible. Shih says that today’s customers want to make purchases on their terms, and are likely to do their own research online before they even talk to your company.  “There is an unstated expectation from buyers now that they should be able to find you on Google and social media. Creating a profile on LinkedIn or Facebook is only part of the equation.”  Shih says that buyers use Google to assess whether you and your company are credible, trusted and respected. To help build that reputation, the best social salespeople make sure their online presence includes pertinent education and work experience information, provides connections to customers who can provide references and participate in relevant LinkedIn groups.

2. Become the trusted advisor and teacher. Being a trusted advisor has become the goal of many successful MSPs. But Shih advises that you must remember that customers want to feel empowered to make a purchase decision after doing their own research rather than feeling sold to. “If you aren't adding value by building a relationship and guiding your prospect along this journey, you risk losing out to someone who does play the role of trusted advisor or being undercut in price by a website.” Shih advises successful salespeople to regularly share helpful tips relating to the products they sell, relevant news and personal updates that build emotional connection and convey a philanthropic interest.”:The personal connection is equally important in B2B as B2C sales — so long as you are not just competing on price and there is risk in the purchase decision, prospects will always be inclined to buy from someone they feel they know, like and trust.”

3. Deliver highly personalized service at scale. Shih notes that delivering personalized service is nothing new to a seasoned salesperson, but scaling this with social media technology is key to driving up sales productivity. “Today's customers expect reps to do their homework and to reach out at the right time with the right message. Successful social salespeople don't annoy prospects before they are ready to hear from them. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to be high-touch with everyone all the time, so the smart salesperson strives to be low-touch until it's the right time to become high-touch.”

Shih points out that in this social era, the kinds of updates that people share on sites such as Facebook are buying signals. For instance, she says, people don’t want to hear from a mortgage broker until they are ready to buy a house. But you need to listen to identify those opportunities when they arrive.  And as one commenter on the blog pointed out, avoid being creepy. Messages like: “Hey, you just had a baby, how about buying some life insurance,” from an acquaintance on Facebook are likely to be a giant turnoff.  And that's the point where sales reps should favor personal contact and relationships rather than get too personal with a social-media only acquaintence.

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About the Author(s)

Jessica Davis

Jessica Davis is the former Content Director for MSPmentor. She spent her career covering the intersection of business and technology.  She's also served as Editor in Chief at Channel Insider and held senior editorial roles at InfoWorld and Electronic News.

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