5 Ways to Jump Start Social Selling

Ellen Barton, Marketing Programs Manager at InsideView

Social selling can be a powerful means of reaching out to prospects and building brand loyalty, but pulling off social selling success isn't as simple as jumping on a social network and posting about brand products and offers. To effectively jump-start social selling, key stakeholders and sales staff will need to do more than just be present online. They must become brand advocates and champions while also serving as thought leaders in their communities. Here are five straightforward tips to help power up your brand's social selling strategy.

1. Define the difference between brand advocacy and social selling.

Creating a strong social selling program means ensuring that sales staff know the difference between being brand advocates and conducting social sales. Think of it this way: Brand advocates are simply working to raise brand awareness. They promote the qualities and values of your brand as a whole, but they don't conduct targeted sales interactions.

That's where social selling is different. Social selling is all about:

  • Reaching out to prospects over social media.
  • Developing relationships.
  • Answering questions.
  • Ultimately, converting prospects into customers.

Does that require some brand advocacy? Yes. However, social selling is done with the end goal of not just creating brand awareness but driving sales and fostering brand loyalty too.

2. Focus on sales and marketing alignment.

In order for social selling to work, your enterprise will need to align its sales and marketing departments. You can do this by sourcing high-quality data about prospects and encouraging sales and marketing staff to work together to create campaigns that reach those prospects.

In other words, your sales and marketing teams need to share the same goals. Before you launch a social selling program, create company goals. Define who will be in charge of every aspect of the social selling process. Make sure that you have a way to hold sales staff accountable too. Making sure that social selling messages coming from your organization are consistent is key to long-term success.

3. Turn sales staff into thought leaders.

Social selling is about a lot more than just pushing products. It's about turning your sales staff into thought leaders. Thankfully, this isn't as hard to accomplish as it sounds. You simply need to empower your marketing department to provide sales staff with quality content they can share.

Content should follow the 80/20 rule:

  • Eighty percent of the content should include thought leadership pieces from both within and outside your brand.
  • Twenty percent of the content should be directly related to actual brand awareness.

Balancing content in this way ensures that sales staff don't just sound like advertising parrots. They become real, unique people who prospects turn to when they have questions and needs.

4. Provide value to prospects at every turn

A big part of becoming a thought leader is providing value to prospects through social media interactions. Remember that social selling isn't just about pushing products and services. It's about helping prospects make smart decisions that meet their unique needs. If sales staff can provide valuable content and advice to prospects, those prospects in turn are more likely to become loyal brand advocates who both contribute to bottom line growth and spread the word about your products and services.

5. Think of social media interactions as a campaign.

It's easy to think of every social media interaction as an isolated incident. When it comes to social selling, though, this way of thinking is a big mistake. Instead of thinking of interactions individually, it's essential to think of them as a campaign. The overall message and tone needs to be consistent. Staying consistent contributes to trustworthiness while helping sales staff develop a unique, personal brand that can be used to reach prospects across social networks.

Ellen Barton is marketing programs manager at InsideView, a software as a service company that gleans insights and relationships from business information.