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How Social Selling Can Improve Your Sales Process

Julie Thompson
Julie Thompson
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Apr 29, 2022

Learn how your business can use social selling to engage and connect with customers on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Social selling can revolutionize your sales approach, save significant time generating leads, and even eliminate cold calling. 

Each social media platform, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, has several ways to increase your brand awareness. For example, with social selling, sales representatives can laser-target prospects and build genuine relationships. 

According to LinkedIn research, 90% of top salespeople use social selling tools. However, if you aren’t utilizing social media to increase sales, now is the time. According to Statista, over 4 billion people are projected to be using social media worldwide by 2025.

What is social selling?

Social selling uses your brand’s social media channels to connect and engage with potential customers. By developing a relationship where they hang out, you can avoid the costs of getting them to your website, e-commerce store, blog, etc. Plus, you can potentially be the first brand they see and interact with when they are ready to purchase.

However, there are best practices when utilizing social selling. You shouldn’t spam potential customers. Social selling is not all about sales. It is more about developing modern relationships.

Why is social selling important?

Social media use continues to rise. According to the Sprout Social Index, all age groups increased their social media activity recently, with 78% of Gen Z, 77% of millennials, 75% of Gen X, and 54% of baby boomers using social media.

Substantial numbers show what social selling can do for your sales team. According to another internal study from LinkedIn, salespeople using social selling tactics had 45% more sales opportunities, were 51% more likely to hit their sales quotas, and outsold 78% of their peers. 

The social selling framework

According to Mike Montague of Sandler Training, there are five main aspects of the social selling process.

  1. People: Contact the people making the purchasing decisions for their companies. Salespeople can use social media searches to find these individuals. For example, LinkedIn allows you to search for people by job title, level of seniority and job function. [Follow these tips for successful networking on LinkedIn.]
  2. Channel: Use the correct channel to contact people. There are many social platforms and channels to choose from, but some are more appropriate than others. If you are looking for clients for your personal training business, it might be relevant to contact individuals over Instagram using direct messages. However, if you are trying to sell B2B software services, you most likely want to connect with people via LinkedIn, the most professional social media network.
  3. Message: To build relationships with prospects, your messages should be exciting and relevant. Before sharing content, ask yourself the following questions: What sort of content are my prospects likely to be interested in? What might get the attention of a prospective buyer? What can I share with my prospects to prove my credibility?
  4. Timing: The timing of the messaging can be just as important as the message itself. You want to contact people when they have a reason to be interested in your products.
  5. Ask: Finally, there is the ask. While social media is a great place to prospect and build relationships, it’s important not to inundate your potential clients with information. If you constantly send people calls to action or sales pitches, you are less likely to find success. Instead, build up your relationships and then sell after establishing a rapport.

How to build your presence on other online platforms

Social media platforms can help you build an online presence. However, you will need to experiment with which platforms are most beneficial for customer engagement. We have outlined a few popular social media options and how to use them to promote your business.

Twitter

Once you set up a Twitter profile, learn Twitter lingo, follow other Twitter accounts and apply for Twitter verification (to show that your account is authentic), you can begin to use the platform to grow your business.

The best practice is to think before you tweet. Unfortunately, Twitter is full of accounts that didn’t do this, and your business doesn’t want negative attention. Your voice also must be consistent on Twitter or any social media platform to genuinely connect with your target audience. Once you get the hang of tweeting and amass a fair number of followers, Twitter Spaces allows you to host live audio events. You can invite Twitter users to join your chats by providing a clickable link in a tweet.

Use Twitter Analytics, Lists and advanced search to understand your audience and niche market quickly. With 350,000 tweets per minute, you will need to experiment with organic tweets, trending hashtags, visuals and what is the best time to post for your business.

Did you know?Did you know? witter allows you to promote your brand or a single tweet within a budget. Since Twitter hosts over 350 million users, it’s an excellent platform for A/B testing your ads and experimenting with reach.

Instagram

When you sign up for Instagram, you will have the option of starting a business or creator (influencers, content creators and public figures) account type. It’s free to create an Instagram business profile, and there are a lot of benefits to using this rather than a personal profile, including extended content space for industry and contact information. 

You can also schedule posts with a third-party application, access Instagram Insights and set up e-commerce with Instagram Shops. You may want to take advantage of Instagram advertising options and customer service messaging features.

TipTip: Track your sales data with Instagram’s analytics or the best CRM software to determine when your customers make purchases for special events or holidays. Once you quantify the data, sync your content calendar to maximize sales.

Once you get acquainted with when and how your audience connects with your business Instagram account, you will need to mix Instagram formats to keep your feed engaging. 

  • Instagram Stories is great for telling a story with a beginning, middle and end. Accounts with over 10,000 followers can include links in their stories – a massive advantage over competitors. Not sure where to start? Here are some Instagram Stories ideas for your business.
  • Instagram Live lets you broadcast live content.
  • Instagram Carousels lets you utilize all 10 photo spots in a single post.
  • IGTV (formerly Instagram TV) is used for videos over one minute long that follow a series format.
  • Instagram Reels is similar to TikTok and quickly growing in popularity.
  • Instagram Guides is a cross between carousels and blog posts. Guides include a main image, title, intro and optional descriptions.

Instagram is all about getting the money shot. So it is a good idea to use photo editors and even hire photographers when your budget allows. This way you can give potential customers the best product shots possible. Post consistently on Instagram so your followers can count on seeing frequent content. 

You’ll also want to swiftly respond to comments on your posts and any mentions of your brand on other accounts. You can quickly increase followers just by being active with your account. Use appropriate hashtags so that leads can find your business. Collaborating with influencers is also a great way to build your presence, no matter your budget.

Facebook

To create a business Facebook page, you will need to have a personal account. Although a personal statement is required, your sensitive information won’t show on your business page. 

When you complete your business page with the required information, you are ready to start posting. Facebook provides several ways to connect with your audience.

  • Status post: Using text only (no videos, images or links), you can engage with your audience by asking questions, requesting feedback, or answering simple queries or offering further explanation about a current promotion. 
  • Link post: Link posts are beneficial for promoting your blog, as you can copy and paste the link right into your feed. You can also link industry articles or news stories. Always add a few words of your own to the link so that your followers aren’t left wondering why it’s on your feed.
  • Pinned post: If you have a limited-time sale, upcoming event or company achievement, using a pinned post can keep your pertinent information at the top of your feed for a specific time. Once you create a post, click on the three dots in the right-hand corner to make a pinned post.
  • Photo post: Photos are a better choice when you want to get your audience’s attention. All of us are guilty of scrolling through feeds mindlessly. Using a relevant photo, illustration or infographic of your product(s) can stop a serial scroller in their tracks.
  • Video post: Are you interested in sharing how your products are made or shipped, or showing how your company gives back? A video can help illustrate your company culture without asking the customer to do much more than click on it. Plus, your followers can easily share the video with friends, extending your word of mouth reach.
  • Live video post and watch party: Is customer service receiving the same phone call over and over? If your product needs extra explaining or your customers are begging for your company to be more authentic, streaming a live video can be an excellent way to engage with thousands of people all at one time.
  • Stories: Over half a billion people view Facebook stories daily. They are perfect for sneak peeks of your product or brand. The short videos or photos last just 24 hours and aren’t subject to the Facebook algorithm.

Determining which types of posts to make and when to post them will depend on your target audience and social media goals. Providing followers with valuable and informative content should fill most of your posts, with 20% or less used to advertise your brand. Learn more marketing strategies for Facebook.

Several tools can help you manage your Facebook business pages, such as Facebook Business Manager, Facebook Groups and the Facebook Messenger bot. You can also take advantage of Facebook’s powerful ad platform to boost your best posts while segmenting your audience. You can use over 20 Facebook tools to optimize your marketing.

LinkedIn

Ensuring that your LinkedIn company page is complete and accurate is the easiest way to get started with social selling. Go through your company profile and complete or update all the sections. You want to have attention-grabbing images and content. Keep your audience in mind while filling out your profile. What do you think they want to know about your company? Do a quick audit of your LinkedIn page periodically to make sure the information is relevant and current.

One aspect of the LinkedIn profile that few people take advantage of is the ability to attach multimedia to it. For example, adding whitepapers, case studies or other materials that highlight your company is a great way to polish your profile. [Learn how to create your business profile on LinkedIn.]

Luckily for you, LinkedIn already has a tool to help you become a more effective social seller; it’s called the LinkedIn Social Selling Index. 

The LinkedIn SSI Score is a helpful metric to see how well optimized your profile is for social selling. The score is based on how well you do these four things:

  1. Establish your personal brand. This component is based on how well you have designed your profile. Your profile sections should be filled with detailed information, including your profile picture, headline, summary and experience. Establishing your brand also includes posting content and interacting with content uploaded by others with likes and comments. Finally, you can generate endorsements from customers, etc. 
  2. Find the right people. Ensure that you are finding decision-makers by using LinkedIn’s advanced search features included with the Sales Navigator platform. Also, connect to second-degree connections (people you aren’t associated with that are related to one of your connections). Finally, LinkedIn tells you who has viewed your profile page. Use this to your advantage by connecting with these people.
  3. Engage with insights. This metric is based on the content that you share and engage with. An easy way to boost this number is to share relevant resources on your feed to promote yourself as a reliable source of information. Next, leverage LinkedIn Pulse to find relevant articles and posts and use Sales Navigator to follow news about your prospects so you can post comments on the content your prospects are sharing. Finally, make sure you aren’t sending the same messages to everyone; customize the messages based on the prospect’s profile and with information that is relevant to them.
  4. Build relationships. This component is possibly the most important, and it’s also one of the easiest to improve. You can connect with people to increase the reach of your network. Focus on building connections with senior-level people who make purchasing decisions. Connecting with your colleagues internally will also help improve this score because of LinkedIn’s TeamLink. This feature allows you to see if any of your colleagues are connected with your leads so you can gain an introduction. Last, don’t just forget about people once you have associated with them. Reach out to people with relevant information at the correct times to develop the relationship. A simple “congrats” or “How are things going?” makes them remember you are there.

Although LinkedIn’s SSI Score is a helpful tool, you shouldn’t rely on it, because a great score won’t make you a great social seller. Some of the score components can be boosted artificially by likes, connection requests, comments and messages. Social selling is a situation where it is crucial to focus on quality over quantity. Focus on providing quality content, making connections and building quality relationships.

TipTip: Leverage LinkedIn for your marketing by posting engaging original content that establishes you as a thought leader in your industry.

How to measure your social selling success

You may have a social media account for your business on every platform, but which ones are worth your time? Once you start posting on social media, it’s essential to measure your successes and failures to monitor your effectiveness.

Goals 

Before you start analyzing every social interaction, make a list of goals. It would be best if you had business goals as well as goals for audience engagement. For example, you may want to use social media to increase awareness of your products. The goal for your audience is to get them to like and share your posts with their friends and family. [Related article: Tips for Setting Better Business Goals]

Metrics

Once you’ve established your goals, you can set up metrics to track them. For example, if you want to increase brand awareness, you must measure your reach in volume and exposure. Audience engagement metrics include which segment of your audience likes and shares posts.

Tools

There are three options to measure social media metrics. You can use analytics tools within the social media platform, third-party or custom-built API. Set up at least one of the best social media monitoring tools before you start posting or publishing a campaign, since many work in real time.

Reality check

Your social media stats might be disheartening, especially at the beginning. However, it’s important to monitor your social media and analyze these stats accurately so you can continue to improve.

Don’t be afraid of taking risks or to change things up and post at all times of the day and week. See what works best for you. Relationships take time to mature, but if you put in the hours, you will find the patterns of your core audience and understand how they engage.

Keegan Connolly contributed to the writing and research in this article. 

Image Credit:

Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

Julie Thompson
Julie Thompson
business.com Contributing Writer
Julie Thompson is a professional content writer who has worked with a diverse group of professional clients, including online agencies, tech startups and global entrepreneurs. Julie has also written articles covering current business trends, compliance, and finance.