Hey there, quick question.
What’s the most important factor in closing deals?
I’ve asked lots of salespeople this question and, not surprisingly, the answers were variable.
Here are some – salesperson’s ability to articulate value; timely follow-ups; selling the micro-problems; objection handling & the list goes on.
But here’s the thing: even though salespeople have different opinions of what it takes to close deals, all of them agree on what’s the best way to start them.
It starts from one place: building a relationship. Because ultimately, people listen to & buy from people they trust.
And that’s essentially what social selling is all about. It’s building trust & nurturing relationships, the only difference being, it’s on social media.
Let’s get started!
What is Social Selling? (+ Its Hidden, Powerful Bonus)
When you use social media platforms to find, connect, and build relationships with potential customers—to generate leads and close more deals—you social sell.
With the definition out of the way, let’s simplify it.
1. It’s sales, not marketing
Too often, people confuse social selling with social media marketing. Let’s clear that. Unlike social media marketing, social selling is:
– Done by individual salespeople (usually BDRs), not your brand’s social media account.
– It’s about building 1-on-1 relationships rather than broadcasting 1-to-many.
Marketing does have a key role to play in social selling. Marketers create content assets, help draft sales sequences, partake in social listening, and more.
2. Social selling is an outbound, lead-gen activity.
It’s like cold calling, but on social media. The key difference is — instead of one direct call, you’ve got to (gradually) build relationships with your prospects. Here how the social selling process can look like, start to finish:
→ Prospecting: Identifying, searching for & reaching out to your target buyers.
→ Establishing first contact: Sending personalized connection requests, asking for referrals or permissions to ‘name-drop’.
→ Building a relationship: Asking genuine questions, adding value to buyers, and actively engaging with prospects’ posts.
→ Listening: Tracking brand mentions, conversations about your products, customer complaints, and other targeted keywords.
→ Nurturing: Sharing helpful content that speaks to your prospect’s pain points and guides them toward your solution.
→ (LAST) Pitching: Live your Jordan Belfort dream.
It’s a long and continuous cycle. But it gives you compounding results. I’ll dive into the details inside the “5 Pillars of Social Selling + Powerful Tools for each” section.
Aaanddd here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for.
Social selling’s hidden, most powerful bonus.
💥 Demand Generation 💥
Wait. Rishabh, didn’t you just say it’s a lead gen activity?
Yes, I did. But here’s the deal.
Social selling, at its highest level, can generate top-of-the-funnel demand & amplify brand awareness.
Want to know how?
Find out in the “What makes a killer social seller” section below!
What Differentiates a Bad, Good, and a Killer Social Seller.
Let’s start with the bad. (Don’t be that person!)
1. They start selling right away.
Pitching your product from the get-go (just after you connect), is:
– Off-putting to prospects. (they’ll know you’re here just to sell)
– Derails your chance to forge better relationships, and ultimately, make more sales.
– Harms your, and your brand’s reputation.
2. Treat their profile as the company’s promotional channel.
Excessively posting your company’s promotional content can make you:
– Slowly lose your credibility.
– Get ignored over time. Prospects figure that they can’t get useful value from you.
– Or worse, end up annoying or irritating prospects.
5 Habits of Good Social Sellers
(Tl;dr) Build a personal brand, give value before you ask for it, share relevant and helpful content, ask for referrals & engage proactively.
1. They invest time & effort into building their LinkedIn profiles.
– Choose/take a high-quality profile picture.
Authentic, easy-going profile pictures are better received than super-professional, headshot-style pictures. Authentic pictures make you more human, relatable, and likeable.
But remember, there’s a fine balance between authentic and unprofessional. For example, don’t put a selfie as your profile picture!
– Write value-first headlines & banners.
What do I mean by value-first? I’ll explain.
Take a quick glance at Brendon Hufford’s profile.
What do you notice?
- His profile is a resource, not a resume. He doesn’t tell you about how accomplished he is, he writes about what he can offer to you. (In this case, SaaS marketing tips)
- He describes his subject matter expertise in a simple, non-jargony way.
– Write a no-fluff, to-the-point summary.
In today’s age, nobody has the time or attention span to read lengthy paragraphs. Your best bet is a short, crisp bio (not more than 10 lines) that covers:
- What do you do?
- Why do you do it?
- How you can add value to your target prospects?
Check out this bio below
Liz Willits (her bio above👆) is a solopreneur.
Her LinkedIn bio is zero BS, zero fluff, straight to the point and supremely effective.
If there’s one person you’d want to steal a bio from, it’s Liz.
3. They ask for referrals & permissions to name-drop. (If none, then they personalize outreach)
“No matter how creative your ad copy, how powerful your value proposition, how differentiated your USP, how gorgeous your design, nothing will ever be as effective as good-old social proof .”Me
Yeah, I know my quote won’t cut it. So, here are some stats:
- People are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. (Nielsen)
- B2B companies with referrals have a 70% higher conversion rate and report a 69% faster closing time for sales. (Heinz Marketing)
The absolute, most effective way to start a conversation with a buyer is through a referral. And top reps know it.
Your job is to get as many referrals, warm introductions, or name drops as possible.
Check out this referral hack by social selling expert Brynne Tillman.
Expert-Tip: A super-simple way to boost your referrals.
This is how 90% referral conversations go:
You: “Can you connect me to people in your network who you think could gain value from our product”
Your client: “Hmmm…I can’t think of anyone right now..but should I… I’d be happy to refer you.”
Want to get out of this?
Do this instead:
- Use LinkedIn to filter and search your client’s connections. Shortlist whoever fits your ICP.
- Reach out to your client:
“Hey Mr. Client, I noticed you’re connected to these to 12 people on LinkedIn that I’d love to get in front of. Could I run these names by you and get some insights before I reach out?”
- Get on a call and show them the list you’ve made. (This will help your client remember better and give you more names, on the spot!)
It’s a small change but works wonders, go get those warm intros!
For more such insights on social selling, make sure you follow Bryne Tillman on LinkedIn.
4. Find ways to help and add value to prospects, at every stage.
“Give value before you ask for it”.
Sounds cliché? Probably. Nevertheless, it’s the most important advice you’ll ever need for social, or any kind of sales. 74% of buyers chose the sales rep that was first to add value and insight. (Corporate Vision)
Why? Because helping people:
- Builds trust (Prospects will form a positive image of you, your product, and your brand)
- Encourages reciprocation (People would review, refer, introduce you — and they’ll be happy to do it!)
Let’s go through some examples of how you can add value, at every deal stage.
1. Adding value at the start.
Situation: Let’s say, you sell marketing automation software, and Matilda is a prospect who just accepted your connection request. This is what a value-add thank you note can look like:
Thank you for adding me to your network.
I thought that this blog – 5 ways to get more ROI out of your paid marketing – might be useful to you!
Do check it out and let me know if you have any questions. :)
2. Adding value whenever and wherever you find an opportunity.
Situation: On a LinkedIn post, Matilda has just ranted about how hard and confusing the new Google Analytics 4 update is. To offer help, you commented:
Hey, if I put together a free training session with my go-to expert on GA4, would that be helpful?
Here’s why that was a smart thing to do.
In addition to Matilda, your comment is also seen & liked by multiple people from Matilda’s network. [These people would be 5x more responsive to your outreach now, than compared to before]
What’s more, if you get enough traction and end up organizing the session, imagine the social equity you build among the attendees!
3. Adding value, even at the end of Matilda’s buying journey.
Situation: Matilda is considering other Martech solutions, and honestly, your chances of closing her account look bleak. Nonetheless, you share a valuable resource anyway:
You told me that you were considering other Martech solutions for your marketing team.
No problem! We’ve compiled a Martech Buyer’s guide. (An unbiased, handy guide on what to look for in your Martech software)
I hope this gives you more clarity and makes picking the right software a little less of a pain.
Why did you help, even if you were losing the deal?
It’s because relationships don’t end with deals. If you give genuine value to people, they’d always be happy to reciprocate sooner or later! 😊
4. Share content (without self-promo) that speaks to and helps solve your target customer’s pain points.
You can share original content created by you or your company, insights from thought leaders, or recent trends/news that are relevant to your target audience (TA).
It’s simple, doing the above would help you:
– Capture the attention of your prospects & ideal customers.
– Build more awareness about their own problems and guide them towards your solution. (Yup, something like email nurturing)
– Earn their trust, so that when you eventually do put out that promotional post, they’ll listen and reach out!
– Oh, and it helps build your personal brand & organic following (win-win?)
The ideal ratio of non-promo to self-promo?
There’s no golden rule, but the 80/20 is recommended by most folks in the industry I’ve spoken to.
(80 Pure value | 20 Self-promo)
Also, it’s good practice to share personal stories, funny anecdotes, real-life learnings, etc., from time to time. It helps you build a personal brand and grow your follower count.
5. Engage proactively, and meaningfully.
Social media isn’t just about creating & sharing your own posts.
Set aside some time to meaningfully engage with your network. Find opportunities to leave an insightful comment, pose a question, or offer advice.
This helps strengthen relationships with your existing network, while also opening opportunities for new connections or collaborations!
More on this in “5-super effective tips for selling on LinkedIn”
(Finally, The One You’ve Been Waiting For)
What Makes a Killer Social Seller
(Tl;dr) The best social sellers become thought leaders for their target audience, and, ultimately, demand generation machines for their business.
If you’re a sales rep/leader, you likely follow Sarah Brazier (If you don’t, you should!). She’s known for her engaging, high-quality content on sales and prospecting.
After years of delivering consistent value, Sarah has gained a huge follower base (50,000+) and established herself as an authority in sales.
On this scale, here’s what happens:
1. Sarah’s target audience (sales leaders) end up following her organically.
2. What’s more? Her content fosters top-of-the-funnel demand and sparks curiosity about the brand (Gong) she’s working for. Case in point, me! I had no idea about Gong 2 years ago, and incidentally, discovered the brand through Sarah’s profile.
3. She gets inbound demo requests in her DMs.
4. Her likeability & influence trickles through to Gong’s brand equity as well.
Reiterating: Once you establish yourself as a thought leader/subject matter expert for your target audience, the possibilities are endless.
All the best, hope all of you become killer social sellers soon 😎.
A Real-Life Example of Social-Selling: How a ‘Profile-View’ Led to a Six-Figure Deal
Meet John, a sales rep. He sells Sales CRM software.
John’s active on LinkedIn, and posts helpful content about sales 4 times a week.
His recent post about “what sales performance metrics do you really need” gets good traction, with a lot of his existing connections liking and commenting.
Due to high engagement, LinkedIn’s algorithm shows the post to each commenter’s network. It organically reaches Karla, a sales manager at XYZ company. She sees that her acquaintance, Robert, commented, “great post, thanks for sharing.”
Intrigued, Karla reads the post, finds it interesting, and checks out John’s profile. However, she doesn’t take any further action, forgets about it, and moves on with her day.
Cut to John.
John opens his post to see if he’s got likes/comments from new, potential prospects. He has! He checks to see whether anyone fits his ideal customer profile. (In his case, a sales manager or leader in a company having 100+ employees). However, none of them do.
Later, he checks his profile views & sees that Karla has viewed his profile. After a quick scan, he realized she fits his ICP!
Seeing an opportunity, John sends her a personalized connection request. In the note, he talks about her work as a sales manager at Xyz, and how he shares content that could be useful to her.
Karla sees the request and, recognizing John from earlier, accepts. John sends a short thank you note.
He waits for two days.
John asks her if she’d be open to connecting via a call to see if a CRM can help solve her sales challenges. She says sure, I’d be happy to!
Why You Should Care About & Invest in Social Selling.
1. It’s 2022.
Let’s say you sell a B2B, or high-ticket B2C product. (Where there’s a sales process involved)
Even if your buyers don’t directly “buy” from social.
They engage, learn, ask questions, do research, and build relationships on social media.
And if you’re not using that to your advantage, your competitor gladly will.
Social selling isn’t even a buzzword. It’s been around for years. In fact, 9 in 10 top-performing sales reps say social media plays a key role in closing deals and is an essential part of their sales strategy.
You simply can’t afford to miss out.
2. Hit Quotas, Grow Revenue.
Take a look at LinkedIn’s social selling statistics:
- 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media.
- Social selling leaders are 51% more likely to reach quota.
LinkedIn connections also boost salespeople’s chances of getting referrals. This is significant, considering referrals account for 65% of companies’ new deals.
3. Stronger Relationships. Higher Customer Retention.
Social media is a powerful networking tool, and salespeople can use it to thoughtfully engage with potential customers and form genuine relationships.
When you react to your prospect’s posts with your own insights, suggestions & useful links — you’re adding value & building a connection that lasts longer than a sale. According to sales for life, over 33% of a company’s customers are less likely to cancel or churn after adopting social selling.
Now that you know the importance, and impact of social selling.
The question isn’t if you should do it. (Yes, of course)
The question is how much time, money, & training you should invest in social selling.
To help you answer these questions, I’ve attached some resources for you:
– How do I create and roll out a formal, structured social selling program?
8 Steps to Rolling out a Successful Social Selling Program | Mailshake Sales Prospecting Summit
– How do I train my team on social selling?
How to Train Your Sales Team on Social Selling
– How much time should my sales reps spend on social selling, every day?
How Much Time Should I Be Spending On Social Selling Daily
– What tools do I need to invest in?
I’ve talked about them below!
The 5 Pillars of Social Selling + Powerful Tools for Each
1. Prospecting (Define, find & reach Your Target Buyer)
Prospecting involves searching for and reaching out to people who can buy (or influence the buying decision) your product.
Before you begin your prospecting efforts, it helps to create a buyer map. A well-researched buyer map can help identify your ideal customers, understand how they buy, and curate a sales pitch that resonates with their problems.
In buyer mapping, you:
- Define the industry, company size/stage that your product would be the best suited for.
- Identify all stakeholders involved in the buying decision & pinpoint the business challenge you can solve for each. For example, in the case of Sales CRM, pain points could be pipeline visibility for sales managers, higher ROI for CFOs or streamlined processes for COOs.
- Make a list of the titles & keywords you intend to target. For example Sales Manager, VP of Sales, Head of Business Development, etc.
Now, we’re ready to begin prospecting. But where?
Well, potential channels for outreach could be cold calls, cold emails, in-person events, webinars, referrals, and social.
But how do you get contact information for cold emails/calls?
There are specialized tools that can help fish out contact details of prospects—ZoomInfo, Leadfeeder, and Crunchbase. However, more information about them is beyond scope of this article.
As this article is about social selling, I’m going to talk about a tool that’s exclusively built for social media prospecting. And there’s one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. 🗼
Turbo Tool: LinkedIn Sales Navigator 🔭
Arguably the most powerful social selling tool, Sales Navigator allows you to take advantage of LinkedIn’s user base of 600M+ professionals. Use advanced filters, run boolean search strings, send inmails, get detailed progress reports, and more. Importantly, you can easily integrate with most CRMs and save new leads or accounts with a single click.
2. Content strategy & distribution. (Create, Access, and Share Content)
To build credibility, add value to prospects, or better, establish themselves as thought leaders — salespeople need a toolkit of focused and high-quality content at their disposal.
That’s where your marketing team comes in. They create content assets like videos, blogs, eBooks, case studies, decks, and sales scripts that enable and empower your sales team.
However, for content to be truly effective:
– Sales and marketing need to collaborate and co-create.
Your sales reps should regularly share insights about frequent buyer questions and pain points at each stage of their journey. This would help your marketing team create better, more solution-driven content.
– Content needs to be organized, up-to-date, and easy to access.
Most companies have a convoluted system of organizing and storing content assets. On a good day, there are about 200+ files, 50+ folders, and 5+ drives! Scattered content repositories increase effort and waste your sales reps’ valuable time. Or worse? Your reps end up sharing an outdated competitor comparison or a churned customer’s case study.
To help tackle these problems, you should take advantage of employee advocacy or sales enablement solutions.
Sales enablement solutions:
- Make it easy for reps to find, choose and share pre-approved company content from one place. This leads to your reps spending less time searching for the right content, and more time building relationships.
- Notify reps of industry trends and company news via email and push notifications.
- Track engagement to analyze what type of content resonates and what doesn’t.
Turbo Tool: Hootsuite Amplify 📢
Hootsuite Amplify is an industry-leading sales enablement tool. In addition to the points mentioned above, Hootsuite Amplify boasts of gamification features, a mobile app for sharing content on the go, end-to-end content tracking, and extensive reports.
3. Social Listening 👂 (Keep Your Eyes and Ears on The Ground)
Social listening involves tracking social media conversations related to your brand. This could include brand mentions, conversations about your products, customer complaints, and other targeted keywords.
Not only can you track social activity related to your brand, but you can also set up alerts to monitor what your target prospects are doing as well. For example, if a target buyer’s company hires a new CEO or gets a fresh round of funding, you can use it as an opportunity to comment/reach out and get yourself on their radar.
Turbo Tool: Sprout Social
You can use Sprout’s social media monitoring tools to track relevant conversations about your brand, your competitors, and your industry. You’ve also got some powerful, AI-backed features like sentiment research, consumer research, trend identification, and campaign analysis.
4. Social Relationship Management (Stay on top of conversations, replies & follow-ups)
Take a minute and try to grasp the logistics behind executing a full-fledged social selling program.
For starters, you’ve got to—outreach and converse on multiple platforms; reply to queries; engage with your prospects’ posts; make timely follow-ups; distribute content; measure performance across platforms, and so on…
Now, how do you do this at scale without pulling your hair out?
That’s where sales outreach or sales engagement tools come in. They help you:
- Consolidate interactions of multiple channels into a single dashboard.
- Notify you to reply, follow up or engage with a prospect’s post.
- Gain real-time visibility into your prospects’ activity.
- Monitor individual reps, channel, and content performance.
If you’re looking for a powerful sales engagement platform to help you do all of that, and more, check out the tool below.
Turbo Tool: Outplay 💪
Prospecting, drafting personalized messages at scale, multi-channel outreach, task management, tracking, and reporting, outplay does it all!
5. Integrate Social & CRM (Get buyers out of your DMs, and into your sales pipeline)
At the end of the day, your goal is to convert social conversations into real, tangible sales revenue. 💰💵
While a sales engagement platform can help you manage social interactions, you still need to integrate it with your CRM software. Here’s why:
– A CRM helps you capture & centralize lead data. That being, not just leads from social, but all lead gen sources, including — your website, PPC, marketplaces, third-party channels, offline & more.
– Absorb prospects into your sales process. After initial conversations on social, the next logical step is to schedule a 1-1 meeting or discovery call. That’s where your CRM comes in. It can pull your prospect’s data from social, help you plan & schedule meetings and automate your sales workflow, end-to-end.
– Increase retention & customer lifetime value. Your opportunity to generate revenue doesn’t end when you make the sale. A CRM is the custodian of your customer data, you can use it to — keep existing customers engaged, spot upsell/cross-sell opportunities, re-activate dormant accounts & more.
– Align your sales and marketing teams on one platform, increase transparency & keep both teams accountable to one another.
Turbo Tool: LeadSquared CRM 🚀
Want to convert leads from social into paying customers? Get LeadSquared. You can capture leads, notify reps to follow up, build end-to-end sales workflows, manage your sales teams’ performance & much more. LeadSquared CRM acts as one centralized channel for all your teams, leads, and channels.
4 Super-Effective Tips for Selling on LinkedIn
1. Share high-value content, consistently.
As I outlined in ‘5 Habits of Good Social Sellers’, sharing high-value content is a solid way to establish your credibility while increasing engagement on LinkedIn.
This can be original insights, tips, or anything external that you think is relevant to your audience.
The best social sellers create a content mix. This includes content that:
- Helps (solves your buyer’s pain-points/helps them get better at what they do)
- Educates (shifts your buyer’s perspective/keeps them updated about trends & industry news)
- Resonates (makes your buyer relate-to and feel something)
In addition to these. You can post content that is:
- Personal (personal stories, learnings, milestones etc.)
- Company promo (case studies, testimonials, new launches etc.)
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
1. Post content every day.
2. Create your own content.Chitra Singh, Founder and Chief Mentor, Sales Womentoring
Creating your own content, like guest blogs or featured articles can build you a high-level of authority & solidify your thought leadership.”
“If you’re sharing a resource (a blog post, eBook, podcast link, webinar video) on LinkedIn:
Give the meat away (juiciest info of the resource) in your caption.
1. Don’t try to manufacture curiosity.
2. Because people are busy. They want the dopamine hit now.
Then they’ll decide if it’s worth clicking on that 3000-word blog article, 30-minute YouTube video or 52-minute podcast.”Amanda Natividad, VP Marketing, Sparktoro
2. Engage With Purpose.
All of us engage. We like, comment on & re-share posts that give us value.
But for most of us, it’s a random activity. There’s no fixed plan or purpose to it.
That’s where we’re missing out. To maximize your ROI from LinkedIn, engage with purpose:
- Set aside time (even 10-15 mins is okay) to engage with your network: Find opportunities to leave an insightful comment, pose a question, or offer advice.
- Especially do this with prospects you’d like to do business with. (You can even set up alerts for when they post or update their profiles)
Here’s how this helps:
- You reach more profiles organically and amplify your account’s visibility. (Simple words? More people see you, view your profile and connect with you.)
- LinkedIn is more likely to show your content to people you engage with.
- You make yourself familiar in your prospects’ minds. Essentially warming them up for future interactions & sales pitches.
3. Get Inside LinkedIn Groups. (But Not to Sell)
Make sure you join groups your target audience is part of. LinkedIn Groups are:
- A goldmine of access. You can filter-search, and DM anyone in the group, for free.
- A chance to learn about your ideal customers, up-close. What questions do they ask? What do they rant about? What motivates and keeps them going?
Sounds great? It sure is. Just one thing, though, don’t start selling.
You’ll annoy members, ruin your reputation, or best, get kicked out.
Here’s what you can do, though: Showcase your industry expertise, deliver value and lay foundations for future relationships.
Comment, start threads, ask questions, offer solutions – strive to be a useful, active member of a few key groups, rather than a silent spectator in many.
Do this over time, and people will start to notice and remember you.
You’ll already have one step in the door.
4. Personalize Connection Requests
When sending connection requests to prospects or individuals you don’t know personally, including a personalized message is critical. By sending a personalized request you can supply the necessary context telling this individual why they should add you to their network, and it can help you stand out in a sea of generic requests.
“Leverage video to show prospects that you care.
Once you have connected with a prospect, you can record a personalized, introductory video for them rather than sending a text. It shows that you care and will help you stand out in a sea of messages.
PS: This is high effort. Do this only for your ideal, high MRR prospects.”Meenu Joshi, Assistant Vice President – Marketing, LeadSquared