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I recently heard that LinkedIn may have dropped the word social from social selling. And, the funny part is that while LinkedIn has moved on most salespeople world haven’t even adopted selling through social channels.

While I am not a fan of the term “social selling,” and prefer “smart selling,” it’s on trend, at the moment. Someday it will just be “selling,” again.

There are many definitions for social selling, including Hubspot’s:

Social Selling Hubspot

And LinkedIn’s:

Social Selling LI

Marketers broadcast and salespeople connect, one-to-one. Marketing lays the foundation and sets the stage and sales people cross the finish line.

Buyers tap into their preferred channels to get information, insight, and recommendations. The days of the phone and even email being the most relevant channels are over. 90% of cold calls go unanswered and people, strapped for time and attention, aren’t interested in talking to salespeople before they are ready to buy.

Knowing the channels that your buyer prefers is challenging, but it does deserve your attention. If you think you’re just fine without figuring out how to use professional and social networks to start, nurture or further your sales cycles, you are missing more opportunities than you may realize.

If you are someone calling on or managing enterprise accounts, beware. Their marketing departments are producing vast amounts of content, and their social enablement team is teaching them how to use the content to further their sales efforts. Companies who are engaged socially don’t want to work with companies who are light years behind. Would you?

Wouldn’t you benefit if you could converse with them in the channels they use to communicate with their customers?

Wouldn’t you benefit from looking smart, interested and engaged in their business?

Think of the information you could glean about your customers and prospects, their products and services, their customers and their employees. It’s all there on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snap Chat. You don’t need to be on all of these channels, but you do need to be on their main channels.

Saying you look at your point of contact or prospect on LinkedIn before a meeting is not social selling. Sending them a friend request on Facebook when you don’t know them is not social selling either. Social selling is a long-term strategy and focused on a SMART plan, (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound).

Specific: determine the most important professional and social networks.

Measurable: set goals for starting conversations, connecting, arranging a call, downloading something from a website or first-time appointment.

Achievable: focus on current customers and develop more relationships and business with those accounts first. Add your top prospects next.

Relevant: Be current with your own professional and social networks, know what’s trending and what works.

Time-bound: Dedicate at least 30-minutes every day for 45 days. Track successes and setbacks. Review at the end of each week.

12 Things You Must Do to be an Awesome Social Salesperson

  1. Determine your preferred channels. Yes, they should line up with your current and potential customers.
  1. Define your personal brand and value proposition. What differentiates you as a sales professional? Why should someone want to do business with you?
  1. Think research, not stalking. Learning is not stalking and researching so that you are informed and smart is not creepy.
  1. Follow your customers on at least the big three networks, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
  1. Know what’s on their blogs and in their posts. Read their content and use it in your conversations, presentations, and market research.
  1. Like, comment and share their content with your network and among their followers.
  1.  Spend a defined amount of time learning and engaging on these channels every day or at least three times a week. Put this time on your calendar and consider it as important to keep as you would the first meeting with a prospect.
  1. Share content even if you and your company are not creating original content. There is no excuse for not posting content today. Curating content, if selected thoughtfully, can add a good deal of value to your network and customers. Adding your voice to the content you’re creating does add an element of originality to the article, post, video.
  1. Find others who are further along in the social selling journey. Get good coaching and training. Learn as much as you can as quickly as possible. Understand, these channels are continually changing so there will be a need for ongoing learning, strategic and creative thinking.
  1. Upgrade your LinkedIn membership for greater access. When you’ve maxed out your account, move over to Sales Navigator. Learning and Sales Navigator at the same time can be confusing.
  1. Pay attention to where you see traction. If you do not see any progress, step back and try to figure out why and tweak, as needed. If you see traction, keep track and do more of those activities.
  1. Know this is a marathon, and will be how you will grow your business moving forward. Don’t stop using professional and social network activities because you do not see immediate gains.

Selling this way does work, and you need to know either you or your competitor will gain access, insight and opportunity this way. I hope it’s you.


This post was originally published on Intero Advisory’s website in May 2017. Please note that LinkedIn is constantly changing. While it’s current now it may not be in the coming weeks or months.