Trending This Week: Tweak These Social Selling Tactics for More Success in 2018

February 16, 2018

One of CustomerThink’s top predictions for 2018 was that social selling would become just “selling.”

“What we’ll see more of,” wrote Vanessa DiMauro, “is sales pros ratcheting up responsiveness by using their powers to connect people to people and people to data.”

That’s happening before our eyes, without a doubt. For B2B organizations, adopting social selling isn’t a way to get ahead of the curve anymore. It’s a necessity for keeping pace.

With that said, those who truly excel with this digitally aligned tactic are still gaining a distinct edge over the competition. It’s not enough for sales reps to simply call themselves social sellers and adhere to the basic principles; they need to continually refine their approaches, and eliminate ineffective (or worse) practices.

Social Selling Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

The Canadian Professional Sales Association recently published a list of four social selling faux pas that are commonly seen, and correctable. To make sure you’re staying clear of these mistakes and maximizing your success in the new sales landscape, let’s explore the four areas covered in CPSA’s article.

1. Getting Too Personal on Professional Profiles

It’s great to show off your personality on LinkedIn. You don’t want to come off as a boring, stuffy suit. To an extent, displaying your hobbies or interests can be very helpful. But it’s easy to cross the line and come off in a way that seems unprofessional to a potential buyer.

If you haven’t reviewed and optimized your LinkedIn profile in a while, now might be a good time. Ensure that your picture is professional and high-res. Consider how each portion of your profile — the headline, the summary, the work experience — might read to an unfamiliar person researching you. And follow this rule of thumb from CPSA: “If you wouldn’t say something to a prospect during a meeting, it is best to avoid posting it on a social channel where your prospect might see it.”

2. Being Spammy or Pushy

This is pretty much the cardinal rule of social selling, which should always emphasize the “social” part over the “selling.” This approach focuses on relationship-building and network expansion. Coming out of the gates with a salesy pitch can be damaging to your reputation and long-term results.

Enter every engagement with a new, or relatively new, connection bringing a mindset of “How can I help them?” rather than “How can they help me?” Ideally, you won’t even mention your product until the relationship has evolved to certain comfort level.

Bob Apollo has suggested that in complex B2B sales, a demo shouldn’t even be on the table until deep into the process. “You should defer your demonstration until you’ve got to the point where you have a clear sense of what a potential solution might look like, and show the prospect that.”

That advice applies to social selling as a general guideline. Don’t start discussing your product or service until you’ve learned enough about the individual, and their business, to deliver highly customized and genuine suggestions. Following this blueprint will dramatically improve your outcomes.

3. Ghosting

The usage of “ghost” as a verb is a relatively new thing, uniquely applicable in the digital age. It generally refers to the act of going silent on someone with whom you’d been conversing, and is frequently used by spurned admirers in the dating world when their interest suddenly stops texting back.

Removing the romantic elements, the issue is plenty prevalent in social selling. A rep will send a message and fail to follow up, or will disappear from a back-and-forth interaction once it becomes clear that there’s no opportunity. This is a bad habit!

Even if there’s zero chance that a prospect will go with your solution, that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable to stay on her radar. Professionals change roles and companies so often these days that you never know when that connection might pay dividends down the line, or when she could help you gain a warm intro with another acquaintance.

4. Sporadic Posts and Engagement

Consistency is crucial. If you’re not very active on social platforms, it not only makes it tougher for people to find you, but also sends an uninviting message. “This guy hasn’t posted an update since last September? I can’t imagine he’s very responsive.”

Using social media isn’t natural for everyone, and it can understandably be difficult to figure out what you should post to keep things fresh. This is a great opportunity to build a bridge with marketing, enlisting them to provide a pipeline of content that will attract and appeal to relevant buyers.

Elizabeth Hines wrote last week on the Fronetics blog about a sales-focused content marketing strategy, and how you can develop one by collaboratively answering the who, why, and what. With sales and marketing working in tandem, there should be no shortage of compelling material to share.

And while you want to frequently engage others to maintain visibility, be sure you’re doing so with purpose. As David Rynne explains on the Skills Lab blog: “There needs to be more than just liking a post or commenting on a prospect's content for the sake of it. You liked? You retweeted? That's great! But what makes you think your prospect actually thinks you care about them or their business? Where’s the follow through?”

If you’re too busy to constantly have a social network open on your computer, tools that enable automated post scheduling and alert notifications can be your best friends.

Hallmarks of a Successful Social Seller

Flipping these faux pas around, we can posit that an effective social seller — or, should we say, simply an effective seller — in today’s environment will carry these four traits:

  • Keeps a “business casual” style presence on professionally-oriented social networks
  • Avoids being spammy or promotional in the early stages of online interactions, leading instead with a helpful and consultative demeanor
  • Follows up with every new contact and maintains relationships even if they don’t directly drive sales and revenue
  • Posts new content consistently, engages meaningfully, and responds to comments or inquiries on social media quickly

Now get out there and excel.

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