6 Social Selling Mistakes Most Beginning Social Sellers Make

Some sales reps think that social selling will be a no-brainer. They use social media all the time in their personal lives. So, how hard can it be to use social media for professional purposes?

After a few weeks of social selling, it hits these reps: Oh, gee, this might not be as straightforward as it seems. Maybe I should learn how to do social selling correctly.

That’s okay. It happens to every beginning social seller. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to avoid – if you know which roadblocks you should look for. Below are six common social selling mistakes most beginners make and tips for avoiding them.

Mistake 1: You don’t post content on a regular basis

Social selling requires reps to be proactive and initiate conversations with potential buyers. But it also requires sellers to attract potential buyers to them. In both instances, reps need to position themselves as knowledgeable experts, capable of helping buyers solve their organization’s problems and challenge their preexisting assumptions and beliefs about their businesses.

One way to establish expertise is by regularly sharing insightful content. As the book The Challenger Customer notes, content is “critical to teach customers, to change their direction while they are learning in a noisy information marketplace.” Forrester’s research supports this point of view. In Break through the Hype of Social Selling, Peter O’Neill writes, “Marketing and sales professionals tell us that a strong content strategy is core to a successful social selling program.”

Solution: Create a Content Publishing Schedule for Yourself

It’s important to create a publishing schedule. If you’re new to social selling, your cadence might be slower, but more advanced social sellers typically post an article once a day on LinkedIn and three to five times per day on Twitter.

As you post, pay attention to the quality of the content. Any piece of content won’t do. For example, if you sell a CRM solution, celebrity gossip blogs won’t help you engage your buyers in meaningful ways. In fact, it might have the opposite effect. That’s why content needs to be relevant to your market. It needs to make buyers say, “Dang! I had no idea we had this problem! I need to learn how to fix it!”

Mistake 2: You obsess over your profile

There’s a lot of hype surrounding social profiles. Many social selling gurus sell profile consultations to sales teams. They seize on the fear that sales reps are doing a very basic thing (i.e. writing a profile) incorrectly. And, if reps can’t do a basic thing correctly, what else will they do wrong?

Or so the guru’s logic goes… Don’t get me wrong. Having a buyer-centric profile is important, but it’s only a small part of the social selling process.

Truth be told, there’s always something you could do to improve your profile. A different profile picture. More keywords. Wittier phrasing. But to really do social selling, you will have to stop obsessing over your bio and hit the “publish” button. That way, you can get onto more important things, such as interacting with buyers.

Solution: Just Hit the Blasted “Publish” Button

Your profile is never going to be perfect. Yes, you don’t want a bio that reads like a resume, nor do you want one that is rife with grammatical errors. But eventually, you need to stop proofreading and start hitting the publish button. Your bio is not going to make or break most of your deals, nor is it set in stone. You can always return to your profile and update it later on.

Not sure how to write a good bio for social selling? Here are a few tips.

Mistake 3: You don’t listen and research

Some people view social networks only as a broadcasting channel. They only share content, and they overlook the gold mine of research that social networks offer them.

To be effective at their jobs, reps need to deeply understand their accounts because in researching their accounts, they will be able to better position their product and services for their individual buyers. Fortunately, social networks can tell reps a lot about:

  • The Market
  • Their Target Companies
  • The Buying Committee at Each Target Company
  • The Reps’ Connection to Each Account

But you have to listen to find out that information.

Solution: Shut up, and listen!

Those words of wisdom come from Ted Rubin, and while blunt, those words encapsulate a mantra that many reps need to embrace. Before you engage buyers on social media, research them. Listen to what they’re saying. Understand their interests and what makes them tick. There’s a lot you can learn by sitting back and observing.

Mistake 4: You don’t engage in conversations

While some reps have trouble listening, there are other reps who listen too much. That is to say, they are passive observers who never engage with their prospects on social networks.

Social selling is a balancing act. Reps need to listen, but they also need to engage. After all, social selling is about being social, and that requires reps to engage in conversations.

Solution: Be brave, and jump into conversations

When you see the opportunity to add value, don’t let it go to waste. Add an insightful comment. Link to a relevant piece of content. That will help you get buyers’ attention and, if your comments are incisive, you will start building trust with buyers, who are looking for guidance as they navigate the noisy marketplace.

Whatever you do, remember to be a good social citizen. Don’t comment just to comment. Don’t try to relate every conversation to you and your company. And don’t serve up canned responses that you copy and paste everywhere.

Mistake 5: You don’t have a plan

Many sales reps commit random acts of social. They post a thing here. They send a connection request to a person there. They write a comment over there.

In short, they’re using social networks, but they don’t have a strategy guiding them. Sound familiar?

Solution: Ask your sales leader for a plan.

Your sales team should have a playbook, and social selling should be a part of it. Social selling should not be something that reps should have to figure out on their own. It should be a mandate that comes down from the leadership within the sales organization.

If you’re feeling lost when it comes to social, talk to your sales leader. See if you can get training and guidance on working LinkedIn and Twitter into your playbook. If your sales leader needs help, here are a few resources that can help:

Mistake 6: You talk about your business and products non-stop

When some reps start using social, they are hopeful that everyone will be interested in their business and their products. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Before reps can talk about their businesses with someone, they need to build a relationship and establish their credibility.

Solution A: Treat social like a dinner party

Sure, every sales rep wants to announce new product features. Sure, every sales rep wants to share exciting company news. But don’t spend your days tweeting press releases and promoting demos. Ultimately, you want to gain your audience’s trust, and unrestrained self-promotion is only going to annoy your followers.

Think of social like going to a dinner party. You don’t want to be the loathsome guest who can speak about only one topic: himself. Blech.

Solution B: Use third-party content

One way to avoid talking about yourself is to talk about other people, specifically about what other people are saying. In fact, it’s a social selling best practice. Social selling experts recommend that 80% of the content shared by reps comes from third parties (e.g. other people’s blogs, insights, reports, etc.)

Only 20% of the content should come from the rep’s company. That’s because you lose credibility with your buyers, if you only share your company’s content. You come across as biased. By sharing other people’s content, you project expertise, not just blind loyalty to your company.

Mistake 6.5: You Beat Yourself up for Making These Mistakes

Maybe you read this list and thought, Blerg, I’ve made those mistakes before. That’s okay. They are called “common” mistakes for a reason. Rest assured that the more you use social, the better you’ll get at it.

Want some more help with social selling? Check out our definitive cheat sheet on the subject.

Posted byMark Bajus

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