17 Plays for Winning at Social Selling

Ah, Super Bowl season.

Whether you are a lover of football, object to the notion of barbarians throwing around cowhide, or watch the spectacle for the commercials and halftime show, the Super Bowl is hard to ignore.

We thought that we’d help you get into the Super Bowl spirit by writing a blog post, chock-full of plays. Just as quarterbacks have their favorite plays for winning games, social sellers have their favorite plays for winning at social selling.

Take note. Winning at social selling does not mean closing a deal and sending over a contract via Facebook Messenger. Instead, winning at social selling means building relationships and trust so that you earn the opportunity to have offline conversations.

So, with no further ado, here are 17 plays that you can start using today.

LinkedIn Plays

1. Use Alumni Search

Your fellow alumni are often a fantastic resource. If you want to see if any of your former classmates are in your territory, you can use LinkedIn’s free alumni search tool.

By reconnecting with former classmates while you’re researching your target companies, you might just get the “in” that you need at a particular company.

2. Look at the “People Also Viewed” Section

Nowadays, the typical deal involves 6.8 stakeholders. Don’t you wish that you could easily find more stakeholders at key companies? Well, you can!

Head over to the profile of one of your prospects, and then look to the right. The “People Also Viewed” section will show other users similar to him or her, many of which are stakeholders at the same organization. Here’s an example from Bill Harris, the VP of Trapit:

3. Avoid Cold Pitches, Especially on InMail

You’ve probably received a few cold pitches on LinkedIn, and maybe you’ve thought, Hmm… If other people are cold pitching on LinkedIn, it must be working. Otherwise, why would they be doing it? Just because cold pitches are “out in the wild” doesn’t mean that they are successful. In fact, for many buyers, receiving a cold pitch is a huge turn-off.

Focus on adding value instead. Help your buyer. If you are solely talking about your product, social selling will not work for you.

4. Request Introductions

It’s often easier to connect with a stranger if you have a connection in common. As you search for leads on LinkedIn, look for “second-degree connections.” These people are one degree removed from you.

Once you’ve located a second-degree connection, ask your mutual colleague for an introduction. You can see your mutual connections in the sidebar of a LinkedIn page (below the “People Also Viewed” section). In the case below, I’d ask Henry for an introduction to Kim.

5. Be Purposeful with Content Sharing

Some people share content just to share content. But that “strategy” (if it’s a strategy at all) will not result in stronger relationships. Rather, content sharing needs to be purposeful.

Ask yourself:

  • Why am I sharing this piece of content?
  • Will it help my buyers?
  • Will it entertain them?
  • Is this something my audience has not seen?
  • Am I providing context as I share this piece of content?

That last question is key. Don’t just share a URL without typing a few words of commentary. Your buyers won’t see what you see. Perhaps there’s a quote that you love from the article. Perhaps you learned a new statistic. Perhaps you want to share your opinion about the article.

Having a point of view will help you stand out in the LinkedIn newsfeed.

6. Look at Who Has Commented on Your Prospect’s Posts

If you’re like me, you probably gloss over the comments underneath your connections’ posts. Don’t be like me. Use the comments section wisely. It can help you:

Identify More Stakeholders: Many times, a connection’s co-workers will comment on their posts. See what they are talking about, and try to glean information about the relationship between the poster and the commenter. You never know, the person could be a key stakeholder at your account.

Look for Potential Prospects: Imagine that you’re selling to marketing operation managers. Chances are that your customers and prospects are connected to other people who do marketing operations. So, many of the people who interact with your prospects and customers could be a good fit for your product.

Add Value: Comments are the perfect springboard for engagement. Think about how you can respond and add value. Maybe you can agree wholeheartedly with someone. Maybe you can share another relative article. Maybe you have a data point that others haven’t considered.

7. Write a Buyer-Focused Profile

After your photo and headline on LinkedIn, your summary (i.e. your bio) is the most commonly viewed portion of your profile. If you’re in sales, your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t read like a resume for a hiring manager. Rather, tell your story to a potential customer.

Not sure of the difference? Here’s a simple template you can use:

And here’s an example:

Don’t like this template? HubSpot has created three additional templates you can check out.

Twitter Plays

1. Master the Hashtag

Identifying the right hashtags is critical for social selling success. Hashtags allow you to eavesdrop on conversations, join already existing conversations, and start new conversations.

Just think of the benefits. By monitoring conversations, you can learn about your industry and prospects, and by adding value to conversations, you can start to build relationships that could end in a business transaction.

We wrote a series of posts on Twitter hashtags. You can find them here:

2. Listen to Buyers

Before you engage your buyers on the phone, on email, in person, or on social, you need to listen. Listening will help you have more productive conversations.

There are many ways to listen on Twitter. We cover many of them in this guide.

For a quick tip, let’s look at Twitter lists. Twitter lists are an underutilized feature on Twitter. Which is a shame because when it comes to social selling, these lists are a tremendous asset for salespeople.

A Twitter list allows you to organize a specific subset of people and follow their tweet activity. By creating lists, you can group people together and pare down the number of tweets you see at one time.

Some reps organize their lists according to prospect temperature. They create one list for cold prospects, another for warm ones, and yet another for hot ones.

Other reps choose to group Twitter users based on accounts. Below, you can see a Twitter list for Trapit employees. If Trapit were one of your target accounts, this list would make it easy to research, monitor, and engage with key stakeholders at Trapit.

Note: You can create private Twitter lists so that no one else can see your list of prospects.

3. Learn How to Use Advanced Search

Twitter has two search tools on its web-based application. There’s the search option in the navigation bar at the top of the page, which looks like this:

And then there’s the advanced search feature, which gives you more options for searching tweets and its users. You can find it here: http://www.twitter.com/search-advanced

For instance, you can use Twitter search to find your competitors’ disgruntled customers. Many people take to Twitter to air their grievances. It might be helpful to keep tabs on negative tweets about your competition. That way, you can swoop in and steal your competition’s business. Use the “Mentioning these accounts” and the frowny face in the “Other” section to find those tweets – like this:

That’s just one use case for Twitter’s advanced search features. To find more, check out this blog post: 4 Ways Sales Reps Should Use Twitter’s Advanced Search.

4. Sprinkle in Tidbits of Your Personal Life

Unlike LinkedIn, which is a buttoned-up social network, Twitter is more amenable to personal tweets. It’s okay to tweet about the blockchain technology one day and the Super Bowl the next day (or Led Zeppelin or shoes or whatever you fancy). In fact, mixing personal and professional tweets will make you seem more human and approachable. That’s a good thing.

5. Use the 80/20 Rule

Social selling experts recommend that 80% of the content shared by sales reps come from third parties (other people’s blogs, news, interesting articles, research reports, etc.).

The other 20% should come from the rep’s company.

Why’s that? If you share only your company’s content, you lose credibility with your buyers. You come across as biased. By sharing other people’s content, you project expertise, not just blind loyalty to your company, and you earn the opportunity to share about your company and product.

6. Use the Quote Tweet Feature

Retweeting amplifies a message. But it doesn’t add anything of substance.

Believe it or not, there’s a better way to retweet. It’s called “quote tweeting.” (If you’re not sure how to quote tweet, you can read about it here.) Quote tweeting allows you to give more context. Let’s take a look at this quote tweet from Kim Babcock:

By quote tweeting, Kim is able to summarize what she likes about this article. Plus, she’s able to add another hashtag to the discussion, making her tweet more discoverable for Twitter users. And one more thing: Ernest Wilson will be notified that Kim has commented on his content, making him more likely to engage with Kim.

Program Management Plays

1. Align with Marketing around the Customer

For any social program to work, it needs to be aligned to the customer. Which means that marketing needs to provide guidance on who the target customers are and how those customers use digital channels. As sellers interact with buyers in the field, they need to report back on what they’re witnessing. In turn, marketers have the opportunity to listen, learn, and challenge their assumptions about the buyers.

2. Align with Marketing around Content

The key to social selling is education. A seller’s instinct is to pitch and push the product, but that turns off the modern buyer. Instead, reps need to think about helping customers and becoming a go-to resource of information. That’s why 67% of marketers almost always or frequently support social selling with content (Forrester). Content is a proven way to educate and engage modern buyers.

For more on this subject, see the post: How to Align Social Selling with Your Social Media Marketing Program

3. Get Executive Buy-In

This person will be your social selling champion, particularly in the beginning stages if you don’t have the data to show the true ROI of your sales team’s efforts on social. Perhaps this is your CMO or VP of Sales or another executive. Regardless of who it is, this person should have insight into the company’s overarching business goals and the strategy for achieving them.

Find someone who can relay social selling success up the ladder to an executive, while also establishing credibility and authority to the sales reps. The goal is to get buy-in at the top so that it doesn’t feel like an uphill battle every time you mention your program. At the same time, you must get buy-in from the reps themselves. Otherwise, you won’t see results.

4. Formalize Your Program with Training

Training is mandatory. Without training, you will have Sales Rep A doing one thing, Sales Rep B doing another thing, Sales Rep C doing yet another… You get the picture. Ongoing social sales education helps create uniformity among your team and increases the chances of success.

As you create your training program, recognize that all sales reps will not have the same level of understanding of social networks, and even the socially savvy reps may not have a clear understanding of best practices for using social for selling. A good training program should integrate “How to” and “Best Practices” in the context of sales activities. For example, how does social listening help you with researching prospects?

You also want to ensure you don’t just focus on the tools. Focus also on driving the the right behavior change. As Mary Shea of Forrester argues, sales rep need to “reboot” and shift their focus in the “Age of the Customer.” They need to stop spewing product features and assume a consultative approach that demonstrates their understanding of the customers’ business problems. That means building relationships with the buyers, educating them, sharing insights with them, and telling the customers something new. In short, they need to add value.

5. Invest in the Right Technology

It’s important to choose tools that your teams can easily use to accomplish their key goals.

A complete social selling platform will help marketing and sales teams:

  • Build a social content library
  • Research market trends, competitors, target companies, and prospective customers on the web and on social
  • Attract and engage new buyers
  • Build long-term customer relationships
  • Increase revenue
  • Measure and optimize social engagement

The right social selling solution empowers marketing and sales teams to do all this, serving as the backbone for sales reps’ interactions with prospective and existing customers, across digital channels. What’s more, a best-of-breed social selling platform is easy to use. No one wants to waste time and money on software that users hate or, even worse, bypass altogether.

Want to learn more about adopting the right technology? There’s a blog post for that: Social Selling: Are You Using the Right Tool for the Job?

Looking for More Plays?

These are just 17 of the many, many social selling plays out there. We have a cheat sheet that has a few more tips and tricks. Check it out!

Posted byMark Bajus

17 Go-to Resources for Your Social Selling Strategy

If you were to create a course on social selling, what would you put on your reading list?

To help companies launch their social selling programs, I thought that it would be helpful to compile a kit of go-to resources.

Below, you’ll find a list of links that I’d include in my social selling success kit. It’d be great if you consider adding any of your personal favorites in the comments below.

How do you manage your social selling program?

Launching a social selling program is not easy. Here are a few key resources that you’ll need for managing your social selling program.

A good social selling program takes planning. This workbook walks you through the steps required for successfully launching your program.

Need executive support of your program? No problem. Download this PowerPoint deck so that you feel prepared speaking to your executive committee about social selling.

You know that social selling will help your organization, but you can’t get executive buy-in. Here are some tips for handling 6 common objections.

Are you looking to build your social selling program? Find the right people for your team by using these interview questions.

Before you launch your social selling program, you need to write a social media policy for your company – with clear dos and don’ts. This blog post explains how to get started.

Without proper training, your social selling program will not take off. Use this training needs assessment to gauge your team’s readiness for social selling.

How will you measure success for your social selling program? There are three key types of metrics businesses can use. Choose the type that fits best with your objectives, your role, and the maturity of your program.

It’s common for salespeople to get excited about social selling. Then, they get busy, and their interest wanes. Results are not immediate, but sticking with the program will produce results. Here are a several ideas to get your team to stick with it.

Choosing the right social selling tool can be tricky. Use these 15 questions to navigate the decision-making process.

How do you do social selling?

In addition to managing your program, you need to arm your employees with best practices. Here are a few key resources that will help them get started:

This e-book covers the basics:

  • Why sales teams currently struggle to meet quota
  • How social selling solves those problems
  • What are the best practices

Use these sample messages to start conversations with prospects on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Here’s what your team shouldn’t do on LinkedIn.

And here’s what your team should do on LinkedIn.

Each social network is unique. Here are some pointers to get your team started on Twitter.

The folks at HubSpot have put together a beginner’s guide to social selling. Their blog post offers some great actionable tips. It’s worth checking out.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding social selling right now, and it helps to have a clear idea of what social selling is and isn’t. This post by Jill Rowley offers clarity.

There are tools that every social seller needs. In this post, you’ll find a list of tools, as well as tips on using them.

Your Favorites

As the topic of social selling becomes increasingly more popular, more and more resources will begin to emerge. This kit of blog posts, white papers, and workbooks only begins to scratch the surface.

Which resources do you love?

Share your favorites in the comments. I’d love to look them over!

-Mark

Are you looking to launch a social selling program?

See how Trapit can help by requesting a demo.

15 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Social Selling Platforms

Choosing the right social selling solution can be tricky. There are plenty of options on the market, and each option has its strengths and weaknesses.

To help you navigate through the decision-making process, we’ve provided you with 15 basic questions that you should ask yourself when evaluating social selling solutions.

Publishing

1. To which social networks can I publish using this solution?

Where do you want your sales team to be active? LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? Make sure that your solution allows your team to publish to those networks – from the platform, without copying and pasting.

2. Does this tool allow me to schedule posts ahead of time?

Our brains aren’t made to toggle between tasks. According to the Harvard Business Review, our productivity decreases by 40% when we try to multi-task.

If your salespeople have to manually update their Twitter feeds every hour, they will lose precious time. However, if your sales team can sit down for 15 minutes and schedule a few posts for the day, they will have more time for other tasks.

3. Does this tool allow for batch posting (i.e. posting to multiple accounts at one time)?

If you have several social media accounts, you don’t want to lose time by writing and rewriting posts. You want to be able to push content to several accounts all at once.

Content

In order for social selling to work, salespeople need to be active on social media. An easy way to maintain an active presence is by sharing content related to their company and their industry.

4. Can my sales team easily share my company’s content (e.g. blog posts, videos, infographics, etc.)?

When your salespeople share your company’s content, they amplify the reach of your company’s marketing efforts. More people sharing content means that more people are likely to see your company’s blog posts, videos, and infographics. What will your team have to do in order to share your company’s content? Is there a lot of copying and pasting involved?

5. Out of the box, does this tool provide a library of third-party content?

Study after study shows that buyers trust third-party content more than branded content. If you want your sales team to be seen as a trusted source of information, you may want to consider having them share third-party content. Can your sales team share others’ content from the application – without having to copy and paste and without having to spend hours building their own library of sources?

6. Does the solution have content personalization capabilities?

There’s a lot of content out there. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can save you time. A good tool can help you sift through all that content – by learning what you like and what you don’t like.

Prospecting Intelligence

7. Does this software enable me to keep tabs on my prospects and/or their companies?

Social sellers are always looking for trigger events – those moments when they can reach out to their prospects and sell their solutions. Does the platform provide you with a way for you to look for opportunities to engage with the prospects?

Analytics

8. What types of reports does the solution include?

Standard social media reports include metrics like reach, clicks, and retweets. Are those metrics provided?

9. Will I be able to measure success based on these reports?

As Jay Baer has said, insight takes effort. It’s unlikely that a solution will provide you with every report that you would want to run. But does the solution give you enough data to find insights?

Pricing, Support, and Training

10. Has the vendor provided me with full transparency of pricing?

You know what’s the worst? When you’re about to close a deal and you notice a bunch of extra charges… Please don’t let this happen to you.

11. How does the vendor handle technical support?

Does the vendor have priority case routing? Does the vendor provide phone support or e-mail support? When is the support team available? It’s technology; plan on running into snags.

12. What is a typical timeline for implementation?

Does this timeline fit what you had in mind? In general, the quicker the timeline, the quicker you can start using the tool and finding customers.

13. What is the vendor’s training program like?

What is the onboarding process like? Does training cost extra? How many training hours are included in the monthly fee?

General Conclusions

14. Will my team be able to use this tool quickly and easily?

Is the interface intuitive? You don’t want to spend your time creating complex workflow videos to help your team understand how to use the tool, nor do you want to spend your time answering multiple questions about the tool.

15. Does this solution give me the full functionality I need now – with room to grow?

You don’t want to buy a tool today and then outgrow the product in 6 months. You would have to go through the long process of evaluating software – all over again. You would have to go through the process of training your team – all over again. Bah-humbug.

Good Luck!

We hope that you find the right solution for you! If you’d like to evaluate Trapit, request a 15-minute demo!

More Social Selling Resources

Image via Mufidah Kassalias

12 Quick, Essential Social Selling Tips (with Data-Backed Explanations)

Did you know that…

Which begs the question: Are you active on social media?

You should be.

Below you’ll find 12 quick tips to keep in mind as you go about social selling. (For a more complete guide to social selling, check out our free e-book.)

1. Set Goals.

What do you hope to accomplish by using social media for sales? Do you want to connect with 3 new people every day? Do you plan to generate 15 new leads every month?

Write down your goals.

Actually, strike that.

Don’t just write down your goals. Share them with your sales team, and hold each other accountable. Research shows that sharing objectives with others helps you reach them. In fact, goal-setters who provide regular progress reports are more likely to attain their goals.

2. Schedule Time for Social Selling.

You’re a busy person. It’s easy to put off social selling until after you have updated your CRM, until after you have answerd all your e-mails, until after you have complained to marketing that you need more leads, until… You get the picture.

Research from consumer psychology suggests that flexibility can be an impediment to achieving your goals. Being more rigid actually makes you more effective in accomplishing your goals.

So, say to yourself, “Every day at 2pm, I will try to connect with 5 new contacts. Then, I will share one new piece of content with my networks.” It sounds robotic, but it will help you be a better salesperson.

3. Go Where Your Prospects Are.

100% of business decision-makers use social media for work purposes (Forrester). In other words, your buyers are on social media. No doubt about that. You just have to research where they are.

Slides seven through 18 can help you find your audience:

But the best way to find your potential buyers is to ask. Ask your current customers which social networks they are active on – for business purposes. And then go from there.

4. Don’t Try to Create a Social Media Presence on Every Network.

You have 24 hours in a day. You won’t have time to build connections with people on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Ello, Snapchat, and every other social network out there.

Research has shown that high performers (like elite violinists) do not spend more time doing an activity. Rather, they simply use their time more effectively by being more deliberate.

In other words, don’t waste your time. Be more deliberate. Choose your networks carefully and choose your prospects even more carefully. Then, create a plan for how you will stay in contact with those people.

5. Complete Your Profile.

To gain someone’s trust on social media, you need to give out some personal information. Your name, your face, your company, your work experience, perhaps where you live. People need to look at your bios and understand who you are.

In fact, according to LinkedIn’s research, B2B buyers are more likely to engage if the professional has a complete LinkedIn profile.

6. Don’t “Pitch-Slap.”

This is a term that I learned from Ann Handley’s handy dandy guide to writing. “Pitch-slapping” refers to the act of walking up to someone and immediately selling to them. Believe it or not, that’s a turnoff for a lot of buyers.

Essentially, what you are doing is the equivalent of a cold call on social media.

When you send someone a cold connection request (and, to boot, you try to sell to them right away), the recipient is less likely to view you favorably. Only 4% of B2B buyers have a favorable impression of cold connection requests on LinkedIn.

Think of it another way. Would you walk up to someone at a cocktail party and begin to talk about your product or service without any introduction? Probably not. The same rules apply to social media.

7. Share Content.

There’s an easy way to avoid pitch-slapping. Share content instead.

Relevant videos, blog posts, news articles, etc. build trust with your audience, and they establish you as a thought leader. Did you know that…

8. Become the Best Student of Your Industry.

Number eight goes hand-in-hand with number seven. To leverage the right content, you have to understand your industry.

At first, it might seem like a daunting task. How can you become wicked smart in a wicked short amount of time?

Well, it will take some time and effort. Think about when you tried to ace an exam in high school or college by osmosis. How did that turn out for you?

Set aside a chunk of time every day (see the second rule). Use that time to build your expertise. In fact, in today’s world, you have to know your stuff.

89% of buyers turn away from a deal if the salesperson doesn’t have insights or knowledge about their business.

9. Ask for an Introduction.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 84% of B2B decision-makers begin their purchase from a referral. In other words, ask your social network for introductions.

Don’t know how? Here’s an explanation of how to ask for referrals on LinkedIn.

10. Research Your Prospects on Social Media.

Take the time to do a Google search on your prospect. Look the prospect up on LinkedIn. And what do they tweet about?

Try to find insights that you can bring into discussions with the prospect.

Why? According to Forrester research, personalization greatly increases customer retention and loyalty. Taking an extra few minutes today can impact your business in the long run.

11. Don’t Worry about Accepting Every LinkedIn Request or Following Every New Twitter Follower.

65% of B2B buyers say that their network is critical for checking references.

Imagine this scenario…

You’re trying to do business with Mr. Prospect. Mr. Prospect looks at your LinkedIn connections and sees that you share a connection. (Let’s call her Mrs. Connection.) So, Mr. Prospect reaches out to Mrs. Connection to do a background check.

Mrs. Connection says, “Actually, I can’t remember why we are connected.”

How’s that going to reflect on you?

Focus on the quality of your connections. Not the size of your network.

12. Consider How Social Selling Software Can Help.

Selling is a complicated process. But software can make it easier. The best social selling tools will:

  • Provide you with business intelligence
  • Help you stay on top of industry trends
  • Allow you to easily share content to your social networks

Here’s a list of 15 questions you should ask when evaluating social selling tools.

What about you?

What are some of your social selling tips? Leave them in a comment below. And while you’re at it, let me know which tips you found to be the most helpful.

Thanks!

-Mark

Want more great tips about social selling delivered to your inbox?

12 Questions to Ask before Launching a Social Selling Program

When embarking on the road to social selling success, you may need some guideposts to help you along the way. In this post, you’ll find 12 questions that sales leaders should ask themselves as they develop their programs.

Many times, social selling programs never take off because they haven’t been properly planned. These questions will help you ensure the success of your program.

Good luck!

1. Goals: Why are we launching a social selling program?

There are many reasons to launch a social selling program.

Perhaps your team has found that your solution is often “column filler” for buying committees – a solution that committees add to their vendor lists late in the game, just to appease everyone. To win more deals, your sales team needs to engage buyers earlier so that they can shape the solution criteria. Social selling can help with that.

Whatever your reasons may be, write them down and communicate them to your stakeholders. Doing so will help you paint a vision for your team and set clear goals.

2. Process: Are our marketing and sales teams on board?

For social selling to work, you need buy-in from your sales, marketing, and sales enablement teams. When your teams aren’t aligned, the whole program can fall apart.

Sometimes, it helps to create a service level agreement for your marketing and sales teams. Here, you can find an example social selling SLA.

3. Process: How does social selling fit into our sales process?

Social selling won’t replace the phone and email. A good sales strategy works across multiple channels and devices. So, it’s important to take the time to think about how social selling fits into your overall sales strategy.

For example, how will your SDRs and account executives work together? Will they work accounts on social together? If so, how?

4. Customers: Do we have modern buyers who use social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn?

84% of C-level/vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions (Source). So, chances are good that many of your customers are using social networks for work purposes.

That said, ask your team to investigate. Look at your wins and pipeline from this quarter, and see if any of your customers use LinkedIn and Twitter.

5. Customers: Which customers would benefit from personal 1:1 relationships?

Many times, a company’s lead database out-sizes the sales team. That’s why marketing automation was invented. It helped companies build relationships with large segments of buyers.

But targeted emails are not the same as personal, direct relationships, and companies are starting to realize that. Some customers, especially in complex buying situations, need more hands-on guidance as they try to solve their business problems. That’s where social selling comes in.

6. Resources: Do we have the internal resources we need?

For a social selling program to be effective, you need to fill several key roles. For example, you’ll need:

  • A project manager
  • Content creators
  • Content curators
  • Social listeners
  • Social sellers
  • Metrics & Analytics experts

To learn more about these roles, check out this blog post: Building the Right Team: 8 Key Roles for Your Social Selling Program

7. Resources: Do we have an executive sponsor?

For your social selling program to take off, you need a vocal executive champion. In the eyes of your sellers, this person legitimizes your move from traditional sales to digital sales.

Granted, your reps are smart people. They will recognize whether your executive sponsor is just a figurehead or is actively engaging in social selling. So, choose someone who will lead by example.

8. Content: Do we have the right content mix for social selling?

Content is the lifeblood of social media. Without quality content, salespeople will resort to cold pitching prospects, and relationships will never form. So, it’s important to get the right mix of content.

On the one hand, your sales team needs company-created content. (Your marketing team probably is creating a lot of this already.) This should account for about 20% of what your team shares.

On the other hand, your sales team needs content from credible third-party sources. This should account for about 80% of what your team shares. Why so much? Sales reps need to earn the trust of potential customers, and if they are simply sharing company-created content, they will look biased in the eyes of their customers.

9. Platform: Have we selected the right software vendor?

Take a look at your goals for your social selling program. Then, create a checklist of criteria for your social selling solution. (Not convinced that you need a platform? You may want to check out this post.)

For example, one of the biggest challenges for sales teams is managing content. Many sales reps can’t find the content you need. So, you might ask, “Does this platform offer a shared internal content library that everyone can access?” Or, “Does the platform provide a library of third-party content out of the box?”

10. Risk: Are there any competing initiatives?

As you develop your program, take the time to create a realistic launch timeline. Socialize your launch date with stakeholders, gain support, and ask them to identify any competing or conflicting initiatives. For example, if your sales team is switching CRMs, you may have to postpone your launch date.

11. Pilot: Should we start small and build momentum through a pilot?

Companies often find that starting with a pilot is the best way to launch a social selling program. By starting with a small, dedicated group, you can experiment with social selling, demonstrate success to the skeptics within the organization, and learn early lessons as you prepare to ramp up your social sales efforts.

12. Feedback: Which tactics and messaging are most effective?

Continuously ask yourself how things are going. Here’s a sample chart that you can use.

Click here to enlarge.

Are You Ready?

Whether you’re just starting down Social Selling Lane or in the middle of it, use those questions to stay on track. If you’d like some more guidance, check out this workbook. It will help you prepare for your program launch.

10 Traits Shared by Successful Social Selling Teams

You’ve read the headlines: 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers. Those headlines make social selling sound so easy, don’t they?

But there’s a catch: Your salespeople on social media won’t outsell their peers unless you have the right people on your team.

But who are the right people? What skill sets should you look for? Below, you’ll find 10 essential qualities for your social sellers.

1. Avid Researchers of Buyers

Your marketing team can give you general information on your buyers, as a whole. But before your salespeople contact an individual buyer, they should do some research.

Is she on Twitter? What does she tweet about? Is he on LinkedIn? If so, what’s his role? How will your product or service make his job easier?

2. Interpreters of Digital Body Language

Your salespeople in the field are accustomed to reading someone’s physical voice and body language. Similarly, a good social seller will be able to read someone’s digital body language.

When your prospects post on social media, they share their personality, and they share information about the topics they care about. Interpreting those digital signs is a must-have skill for any social salesperson.

3. Eager Learners

Social media changes as quickly as the weather. If your salespeople want to be effective on social media, they need to keep up with the latest trends.

Moreover, social selling is going to take some trial and error. They need to take your company’s best practices, test them, and adjust them accordingly.

4. Concise

There isn’t a lot of room for long, flowery sentences on social media. Salespeople need to get to the point.

5. Remarkable

At the same time that you have to be concise, you need to have some kind of personality. Every minute, Twitter users tweet 277,000 times, and every minute, Facebook users share 2,460,000 pieces of content.

It’s easy to blend in on social media, so salespeople need to find ways to be remarkable – to stand out. Great content, cool images, exclamation points, emoticons, and emoji help you sound less digitally monotone.

6. Engaging

Are you doing social selling if you’re simply broadcasting a couple tweets a day?

No. You’re on social media, but you’re not really doing social selling.

For your sales team’s efforts to be effective, your salespeople have to strike up conversations with other people. They have to listen to what other people are saying and respond. In short, they have to engage.

7. Cultivators of Relationships

A typical marketing team will supply Sales with 15% of the leads they need to meet quota. That means your salespeople need to generate 85% of their own leads.

To get that many leads, they need to constantly form new relationships, looking for business opportunities along the way.

8. Fluent in Multiple Social Networks

How you communicate on LinkedIn is not the same as how you communicate on Twitter. (Twitter hashtags, for instance, don’t work on LinkedIn.) A good social salesperson will understand the grammar of each network.

9. Digitally Appropriate (A.K.A. Not Creepy)

In face-to-face interactions, we have certain rules of conduct. We don’t run up to a stranger and give them a big, wet kiss on the lips.

On social media, there are unwritten rules, as well. HubSpot has done some initial research into the subject.

10. Harmony between Online and Offline Personas

It’s naive to think that you’ll conduct an enterprise software sale on Twitter or LinkedIn. Sure, you may use social media to research buyers, to break the ice with new ones, and to stay in touch with current ones.

But eventually, you’ll have to jump on a phone call or meet in person. During that interaction, you’re going to need a personality that is equally as charming as your online persona.

What do you think?

These are 10 traits that we think make for great social sellers. What other characteristics would you add to the list?

Leave a comment below!

-Mark

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10 Things You Should Not Say to Buyers on Social Media

I get it. Talking to buyers is tough, and it seems even tougher on social media.

On Twitter and LinkedIn, you want to foster conversation. You want to move buyers along their journey. And you don’t want to say something publicly that brings the conversation to a screeching halt.

What might those conversation killers be? Check out these 10 phrases that buyers wish they didn’t hear on social media.

Don’t say: “Are you the decision-maker?”

Yuck. Don’t BANT qualify your connections on social media. Decision-makers use social media to deepen relationships, learn, and be entertained – not answer your pre-sales questions.

Besides, if you’re socially savvy, you should be able to leverage Twitter or LinkedIn to unearth the decision-maker’s name.

Don’t say: “I saw on Instagram that you had a crazy, drunken weekend in Vegas.”

Hmm… It sounds like the Vegas party animal needs to change his privacy settings on Instagram, but it’s not your place to tell him that.

Just because something is public on the internet doesn’t make it fodder for a business conversation. Getting too personal with someone makes you sound unprofessional.

Bonus tip: It’s probably not a good idea to favorite those debaucherous photos on Instagram, either.

Don’t say: “Do you want to buy my product?” [to everyone who accepts your LinkedIn connection request]

Accepting a connection request is not a sales trigger. It’s an invitation to start a conversation and build a relationship that could, one day, end in a sale.

Don’t say: [in response to tweets/comments directed at a competitor] “You can do that better with our product.”

On Twitter, you can track what people are saying to your competitors. On LinkedIn, you can look at the comments on your competitors’ business pages.

It’s tempting to dig through those comments and tweets and insert your company into the conversation. “Hey Alex! You’ll be a happier customer with my company! Why don’t you check us out?”

In internet speak, this is called trolling. No one likes trolls on the internet. Avoid butting into your competition’s conversations.

Don’t say: “Trust me.”

The phrase makes you sound smarmy.

Everything you do on social media should make you look trustworthy – from your profile picture to providing the best content from around the web. You shouldn’t have to tell people to trust you. They should know that they can trust you – based on your interactions.

Don’t say: [publicly] “What’s your e-mail address?”

If you think it’s time to take a conversation “offline,” it’s okay to ask for someone’s e-mail. But don’t request your prospect’s contact info through the comments section on LinkedIn or through a tweet.

Use a more private method – like a direct message on Twitter or a LinkedIn message.

Don’t say: “I can show you a great way to save money.”

There’s a lot of spam on social media. Every day, I receive a tweet or a LinkedIn message with an offer that sounds too good to be true, and I’m sure that you have a similar experience. As a salesperson, you have to separate yourself from the spammers.

If you sound like someone who’s offering business miracles, you won’t win the trust of a potential buyer. Instead of offering people unbelievable deals, offer them content. Educate them. Entertain them. Delight them. Inspire them.

Don’t say: “Can I give you a demo today?” [to everyone who likes, favorites, or comments]

A comment, a like, a favorite – those are not indications that someone wants to see your product. Instead, they’re indicators that you’re engaging your connections on social. Keep it up!

Don’t say: “Nice profile picture.”

LinkedIn and Twitter are not dating sites. You wouldn’t walk up to someone at a business cocktail hour and say, “You have beautiful eyes.” That’d be creepy. Don’t be creepy on social media, either.

Don’t: Retweet, retweet, retweet, retweet, retweet. Favorite, favorite, favorite, favorite.

Would you call a buyer when you wake up, again at noon, and then one more time before going to bed? That’d be overkill. The same is true of social media. Don’t be overzealous. Don’t retweet everything someone says. Don’t favorite everything another person says.

To Sum Up…

Buyers don’t mind speaking with salespeople on social media. But salespeople have to understand what buyers want. Buyers want to be educated, entertained, delighted, and inspired. And it’s a salesperson’s responsibility to keep conversations professional, to build trust, and to foster relationships rather than sell the product.

To help you learn more about the basics of social selling, we created an e-book on the subject. Download our primer on social selling to learn why you need social selling and how it works.

Image credit: Mateus Lunardi Dutra on Flickr.

10 Interview Questions to Recruit Your Social Selling Team

By now, you have probably heard that salespeople who use social media are more likely to make their quota.

But how in the world do you find team members who are great at social selling? I mean, social selling is a relatively new sales technique. It’s not like you can find job candidates who have MBAs in Social Selling.

To find the right candidates for your program, you have to ask the right questions. Below, you’ll find 10 questions that will help you ascertain whether a candidate would be good for your team.

Your Approach to Interviews

I used to tutor foreign graduate students. Many of them were engineers who decided to use their math skills as management consultants. As part of my tutoring position, I helped them practice their English in professional settings, mainly interviews.

Consulting interviews revolve around case-style questions. The interviewer asks the interviewee a question about a hypothetical business situation, and the interviewee shows how he or she would react in the imaginary situation. Personally, I like this type of question. The answers are more telling than the canned responses that typical interview questions spark.

Below, you’ll find a few questions that you can use to interview candidates for social selling programs. As I mentioned in Tuesday’s blog, there are many roles that you need for your social selling team. This post will focus on two of them: the salespeople and the project managers.

Be warned: If you have a 30-minute interview, you probably won’t have time to get through all of the questions below. So, pick two or three of your favorite ones for each interviewee.

Interviewing for the Social Seller position

Question 1: Sales experience

The question: Walk me through your typical day as a salesperson.

What to look for: This question serves two purposes.

First, it tells you how the job candidate engages with customers and how the interviewee prospects. Do they use social media? Do they do cold calls?

Second, it tells you something about the candidate’s personality. For example, you know that someone is methodical and detail-oriented if the candidate says, “At 8am every day, I share content with my prospects on LinkedIn. At 8:30am every day, I…”

Other people might not be as methodical, but they might tell a great story. If someone can hold your interest as they list their mundane daily tasks, they have a certain charisma, which you may or may not want on your sales team.

Question 2: Leveraging marketing assets

The question: Imagine that you work for a new company that sells CRM software. It’s the hip, new Salesforce, and this hip, new Salesforce has a library of marketing assets. Which of the following assets would you send to someone who has requested a demo on our site? Why?

  • An e-book on the secret best practices of successful salespeople.
  • An e-book on the key metrics that sales leaders should be tracking in their CRMs.
  • A one-pager on your company’s value propositions and key competitive differentiators.
  • A case study that describes all the cool things our customers do with our CRM.
  • A video recording of a demo showing how our CRM works.

What to look for: You are checking to see if the salesperson understands content marketing, and you are checking to see if the salesperson can map content to the buying stages.

When someone requests a live demo of a product, they are pretty far down the sales funnel. At this point in the buyer’s journey, fun, educational content may not be what the buyer wants.

So, if the interviewee chooses the e-book about best practices for successful salespeople, you have just identified the job candidate’s weakness. The candidate lacks insight into the buyer’s journey. You could still hire the person, but you will have some teaching to do.

Follow-up question: When would you use the other assets in our content library?

Question 3: Where are your buyers?

The question: Let’s pretend that our marketing team has convincing data that shows that none of our potential customers use social media. Should our sales team be active on LinkedIn and Twitter? Why or why not? (Source: HubSpot)

What to look for: Is the person thinking about the here and now? Or is the person thinking about the future? Your customers may not be on social media now, but they will be there in the future.

Question 4: Rapport building

The question: Let’s imagine that we are working for the CRM company – the hip, new version of Salesforce that we discussed earlier. And a VP of Sales from a Fortune 500 company sends you a LinkedIn connection request. This Fortune 500 company is on your customer wish list. You want to sell to them. What are your next steps for interacting with the VP of Sales?

What to look for: You need to see what the candidate’s strategy is. Does the person go in for the hard sell right away? Or does your future sales team member try to build trust and rapport?

Usually, it is best to listen, find out more about the person, build trust, and then, work the sale.

Question 5: Tricky situations

The question: You are a member of a LinkedIn group with over 15,000 members, and you notice that someone is bashing your company. What would you do?

What to look for: If your sales team is on social media, chances are good that they will encounter some disgruntled people. Are they going to feed the internet trolls? Will they shirk responsibility by notifying your social media marketing team of the situation?

Before you ask this question, decide how you would want someone to answer this question. There isn’t a right or wrong way.

Interviewing for the Project Manager position

Question 6: Managing executive sponsors

The question: Your VP of Sales is the executive sponsor for your social selling program. She is supposed to set an example by being active on Twitter and LinkedIn. However, she has not written a tweet in three months. What would you do?

What to look for: How do your future project managers “manage up”? That is, how do the candidates manage employees who are more senior? The candidates’ answers will be indicative of their communication style and their conflict resolution techniques.

Fun tip: You can turn this into a role playing scenario. You can be the VP of Sales, and the job candidate can be the project manager. See how the interviewee reacts in real time.

Question 7: Creating a vision and a plan

The question: Let’s say that we hire you, and your first task is to launch a six-month pilot program for social selling. Take a few minutes to outline your project roadmap for launching this program.

Follow-Up Questions:

  • How would you decide which salespeople would be included in the pilot?
  • How would you reward the salespeople for participating in the pilot?
  • How would you go about communicating your plan to the salespeople?
  • How would you go about training the salespeople?
  • How would you use data to gain insights and improve your program?
  • It is important to set expectations for both the executive team and for your sales team. What do you believe are realistic outcomes for your six-month pilot? How would you measure success?

What to look for: You can’t expect the answer to be perfect. Roadmaps take time to build, and unless the candidate has access to a whiteboard, it might be hard to think through all the steps on the fly.

Ultimately, this question indicates whether the job candidate knows where to start. Has he thought through all the required steps? And does she have realistic expectations for a six-month pilot? If someone says that the sales team will quintuple its quarterly bookings in six months, you might want to think twice before hiring that person.

Question 8: Social media policy

The question: Imagine that you join our company, and you find out that we don’t have a company-wide social media policy. You decide to take it upon yourself to write one. What would you include in it?

What to look for: Indirectly, this is a way of gauging the candidate’s fit for your company. If your company values freedom and responsibility, you shouldn’t hire someone who is going to write a social media policy with 75 dos and don’ts.

If you don’t know what a social media policy should look like, consult this blog post.

Question 9: Uh oh!

The question: You sign into Twitter at midnight, and you notice that one of your salespeople is very active on social media. At first, you’re happy to see this. But then, you dig a little deeper. It turns out that Mr. Social enjoys using expletives and posting images of himself getting drunk on weekends. How do you manage this situation?

What to look for: Indirectly, this is a way of gauging the candidate’s fit for your company. If your company values freedom and responsibility, you shouldn’t hire someone who is going to write a social media policy with 75 dos and don’ts.

Question 10: Dealing with problematic employees

The question: Let’s do a role playing exercise. One of your employees spends his entire day on LinkedIn. He’s always writing status updates. He’s always answering questions in LinkedIn groups. He has over 2,000 LinkedIn connections. He says that he is social selling. But it’s December. He has been working for your company since June, and he hasn’t brought in a single deal all year.

I’m going to be the LinkedIn-addicted employee, and you’ll be my manager. Talk to me about my performance.

What to look for: Look for someone who can set clear expectations with employees, and look for someone who can explain social media best practices. Does someone really need to be on LinkedIn all day in order to be effective?

Next Steps

By now, you should have a flavor for the types of questions you should ask job candidates. Your next step is to take these examples and create your own. Make sure they reflect your industry and hiring needs.

Good luck!

-Mark

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Additional Social Selling Resources:

10 Questions Employee Advocates Should Ask before Sharing Content

You’ve signed up to participate in your company’s employee advocacy program.

You understand the benefits of employee advocacy.

You’re ready to be active on social media, but you’re feeling nervous. You’re not certain what constitutes a good social media post.

Here are 10 questions you should ask yourself before you curate content on any social media channel.

1. Will my followers find the post interesting?

Employee advocacy is great for you and your company. It helps your company increase its brand awareness, while also helping you build your personal brand.

To be effective, though, you cannot think only about your needs and your company’s needs. You have to think about your audience.

Your posts will get more clicks, more retweets, more likes – if and only if your posts matter to your audience. Before posting anything, ask yourself, Will my followers find this post interesting?

2. Should I share this link privately with one of my followers?

When you share a link publicly, there’s a chance that some of your followers might not see your post. Your Twitter feed moves rapidly, and some people do not sign into LinkedIn on a daily basis.

If you really want someone to see your post, you may want to send them a direct message on Twitter or a message on LinkedIn. Alternatively, you can consider tagging someone in your post by using the @ symbol.

More targeted messages are ideal for salespeople who are doing social selling. Did you find the perfect piece of content that Bobby Foofoo must read? Great! Send him that piece of content, and move him to the next stage in the sales funnel.

3. Does the post reflect my personal brand?

Look at the diagram under the first question again.

Being an advocate for your company works best when your personal and professional interests intersect with those of your company.

This is not to say that you should not tweet about cookie recipes if you work for a tech company. But you truly are an employee advocate when you share tips and news related to your company and its industry.

If you’re thinking to yourself, Gee, I have nothing in common with my company. That’s probably not true. If you weren’t a good fit for your company, why did they hire you?

Besides, your personal brand is not just about links, infographics, videos, news, tips, and tricks. It’s more than that. Your personal brand is also about how you say something. Before you post, think about the tone of your post.

Do you want to come across as…?

4. Am I curating a piece of content that my followers have not seen?

It’s easy to share the articles and videos that everyone else is sharing. But here’s the thing: If you share only the popular articles, you risk getting lost in the noise.

Try to find some content gems. Try to find some of the lesser-known resources that only you can bring to your followers. That way, you prove to your followers that you can offer unique insight – something they may not have seen otherwise.

When you can offer something new, that’s when you set yourself apart. A good employee advocacy platform will make it easy for you to find those content gems.

5. Does my post provide context for the article?

To stand out and be helpful to your followers, you should add your own commentary. Here are three questions you can ask to add context:

  • Why am I sharing this piece of content?
  • Why should my followers care about it?
  • Have I articulated the context clearly?

Believe it or not, that last question is crucial. The need for clarity may seem completely obvious to you. But it is not obvious for everyone. Take, for instance, this tweet from Marc Benioff.

Benioff has added his own commentary about Facebook’s psychological experiment. It’s “amazing,” he remarks. But is it a good kind of amazing? Or is it a bad kind of amazing? Is it good that Facebook tinkered with users’ emotions?

The word “amazing” doesn’t clearly explain Benioff’s thoughts.

6. Is the format of this post optimized for each social network?

Once you’ve chosen the right social network for your post, you have to think about how that post will be displayed. For example, LinkedIn does not use hashtags, but Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram do. (For a complete guide to hashtags, check out this resource from Moz.)

Additionally, are you sticking to the optimal word count? For instance…

  • Twitter: 120-130 characters (Source)
  • LinkedIn: 25 words (Source)

7. Am I posting this at the best time?

You’re sharing content because you want your followers to see it. So, be strategic.

Think, for example, about the geographical location of your primary group of followers. If they live on the east coast of the United States, you probably do not want to schedule all your posts for midnight in California. Your New York followers will not see it.

Another option is to look at your analytics. Dig through your analytics and look for your most popular posts. Then, look at the time stamp on those posts. Is there a trend? Perhaps that’s a good time for you to post.

8. Have I proofread my post?

Scott Warner’s tweet is meant to be funny. And while social media is full of “word crimes,” you should not relish in breaking the laws. Be cautious of sloppy spelling and grammar. Making too many mistakes can hurt your personal brand. Moreover, it reflects poorly on your company.

9. Have I spread out my posts?

People follow you because they like you and what you post. That’s a good thing. But their loyalty will wane if you post too much

It’s annoying to look at your Twitter feed and see that Bobby Foofoo has posted every five minutes for the past four hours. Think of social media like a dinner party. Do you want to sit next to the person who can’t stop talking and must comment on everything?

To avoid annoying your followers, spread your posts out. On Twitter, you can post between 10 and 14 times per day without annoying people – if you spread out your posts.

On LinkedIn, you will want to be more reserved. We recommend posting between once and twice every day – perhaps once in the morning and another time in the afternoon.

For more tips and tricks on curating content, check out our content curation workbook.

10. Does this post violate my company’s social media policy?

Your company should have a social media policy. Before you post, think about your company’s guidelines. When in doubt, ask yourself, Would my boss get upset if she saw this post? If the answer is “yes,” perhaps you shouldn’t post it.

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