5 Social Selling Mistakes You Need to Fix Right Now

Social selling is as important as ever – but it’s about to become a lot more competitive.

December 8, 2016

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Social selling is fast approaching the tipping point when it moves from being a strategy reserved for early adopters (who gain huge competitive advantage from it) to one that quickly spreads like wildfire across sales teams. Social selling is as important as ever – but it’s about to become a lot more competitive.

To maximise the value social selling brings, you need to move quickly and decisively to fine-tune your execution and stay ahead of the competition. Start by checking for these five frequent social selling mistakes – and fixing any that you find yourself and your team making.

1. Feeling embarrassed about time on social

Some sales teams still suffer from a legacy attitude about the time they spend on social media. Sellers are still looking over their shoulder in the office when researching prospects and sharing content on social – and they still feel a lot more comfortable once they visibly pick up a phone. To maximise the effectiveness of social selling, you need to conquer these feelings of embarrassment and help your team do the same. Time on social isn’t just trendy research before the real job of selling begins – it’s the most important element in your sales strategy. Don’t get cold feet and start reverting to cold calls. The top sellers certainly don’t – in fact, 98% of them consider social selling to be ‘extremely critical’ to their ability to close deals.

2. Flunking the profile test

A strong, professional brand is essential for effective social selling – and your LinkedIn profile is the foundation for that brand. If your profile is just a resumé talking about your own achievements and how good at sales you are then it misses the point. Write your profile with the customer in mind and include rich, meaningful content that addresses challenges they’re likely to be facing. Use your summary to tell the story of yourself and your products, and the needs they help satisfy, and try adding a call to action to get in touch.

3. Connecting with your audience too late in the process

Arguably the most common social selling mistake is connecting with your prospects too late in their buying process. Today’s decision-makers could easily be 60% through decision-making before they reach out to engage with vendors and ask for information from them. By that point, their thinking about the type of solutions they need and the businesses they will consider getting them from are already fixed. You can’t afford to sit back, wait and hope that you’ll be on the shortlist – and that you’ll therefore hear from them.

How can you connect to buyers earlier in the process? It starts with having that strong, professional brand on LinkedIn that shines through when buyers conduct their own research. However, you also need to extend the reach of your brand by sharing relevant content that gets noticed in your prospects’ feeds. This is the key to pro-active social selling that makes sure you’re part of buyers’ thinking from the start.

4. Wasting the connection opportunities in your organisation

You never know who could come in handy when it comes to building relationships with customers and prospects. That elusive decision-maker you’ve been chasing for a meeting could be an old contact of the IT guy, or a family friend of the office intern. Social media is a great way of finding out about these invaluable connections. 

5. Failing to pick the right moment

You wouldn't deliver your elevator pitch to everyone you meet at a party. You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on a first date. However, that’s exactly the kind of thing that many social sellers do all the time. They try to skip over the process of building a relationship and go for the hard sell with every contact they are able to connect with. This is a big mistake – and it misunderstands what social selling really is. If you’re just using social platforms as a way of making cold calls without a phone then you’re missing the point.

The process of nurturing and developing prospects starts with listening. You earn the right to start a conversation by doing the research and personalising your approach to the company and the issues it seems to be focusing on. Take note of the content they share and comment on in a professional context and look for opportunities to add to the conversation. It doesn’t always have to be about work either. If they’ve mentioned which their favourite football team is, keep an eye on how they do at the weekends.

Interpreting buyer signals of intent is the key to picking the right moment to engage more meaningfully. It’s their skill at reading these signals that distinguishes the most effective social sellers from the rest. They pick the right moment by noticing when people move into new roles at new businesses, when they make connections relevant to their category, and when they start to share content that’s relevant to the latter stages of the buying process. Their ability to do this comes from their skill in listening – and not diving in feet first. It’s a more sophisticated approach that will become invaluable as social selling goes mainstream.