What is Social Selling and Will it Work For Your Business?

By Melonie Dodaro

Are you interested in generating more leads, prospects and sales using social media but don’t know where to start?

Have you invested time and maybe even money into marketing on social media, but just have seen the kind of results you hoped for?
Social selling may be the solution you have been looking for.

Social selling will not only add new leads in your sales funnel but it will also enable you to actively engage and build relationships with these same leads, moving them further through the buying process.

When done correctly, social selling can help you to outperform your non-social media using competitors.  In fact, 72.6% of salespeople who use social media outperform their colleagues who aren’t using it (see image).

This article will outline why social selling works, five things your company needs to do before attempting to socially sell and five daily social selling activities to improve your online presence.

Why use social selling?

Cold calling is not nearly as effective as it used to be. This once popular sales approach worked for businesses in the past, but now comes off as intrusive and can turn off prospective clients. In fact, over 90% of decision makers are saying they absolutely will not buy from a cold call or an unsolicited email.
What is producing results is social selling. Simply, social selling is a sales technique that focuses on building relationships with your market and utilizes social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter [LinkedIn being shown to be 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter]. By engaging your customers and connecting with them, you are providing them an opportunity to be educated, to feel a part of your company culture and to make informed purchasing decisions.

Does social selling work?

Social selling is not a fad, there is plenty of quantitative data to back up the hype. For example, Ago Cluytens, of RAIN Group, provides us with some compelling stats shown in the image above.

Social selling can improve your sales and customer engagement.  Here are five things your company needs to do before attempting to use social selling:

1.    Begin with a plan. It is disconcerting how many businesses begin without a viable marketing plan or strategy. Without a plan or strategy that outlines your target market and goals, you will waste your time and effort doing things that are unnecessary, costly or even potentially damaging. Without a plan you also will be unable to recognize when you do achieve your goals.

2.    Choose a specific target market. It has often been said that if you try to market to everyone, you market to no one. This is true for social selling. You must narrow your efforts to a specific target market and position yourself as an authority on your topic or in your industry and the only choice in your prospects’ minds.

3.    Use the right tools. Depending on your business and goals, you need to decide which, if any, of the social media platforms are right for you.  Take the time to consider your audience, your goals and your industry. A good place to start is to find out which social media platforms your target market spends their time on. If you are a B2B company, professional or sales person using LinkedIn will be the place to start.

4.    Create and deliver a consistent message. It is important to have a regular presence on your social networks as well as a consistent message. Take a moment and consider who your target market is, what problem they need solved and what language they use when they discuss their problem. Make sure you are speaking to them in their language not your industry jargon and that you are consistent on all of your platforms.

5.    Measure your results. Once you know what your marketing goals and plans are, you must measure your results on social media. By tracking your results, you will know when you have successfully reached them. By tracking your progress with tools such as Google Analytics, you will begin to understand what’s working, what’s not working and what needs to be improved. With this information you can then take the appropriate measures to modify your efforts as necessary.

Five Daily Social Selling Activities

To be successful at social selling, there are five activities that you should do daily that will help add new leads to your network and strengthen your relationship with current prospects

1.    Post content that is relevant to your ideal clients. This is one of the most important things you can do, especially when using social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Twitter. Before posting anything, take a moment to read it from your ideal client’s point of view to make sure that it speaks to them. What you do and say online is only useful if it found by your target market and deemed as valuable to them.

2.    Personalize all communication. You should always make sure that you personalize every message and connection request that you send. This applies not only to your leads, prospects and clients, but to all of your contacts.  Make it personal by addressing the message using their first name and by mentioning when you met or why you want to connect with them.

3.    Respond in a timely manner. This may seem obvious, but it is a crucial part of retaining an online following. Taking a day or two to respond to an inquiry is reasonable, but anything longer than this runs the risk of frustrating or angering the person inquiring. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how long you would wait for a response.

4.    Learn from your competition. Ensure you are monitoring not only your own social networks on a regular basis, but also those of your competitor’s from time to time. By observing your competitors, you can see what markets they are targeting or what tactics they are successfully using as well as measure your own social media success against theirs.

5.    Engage and provide value to your connections. While some days all you will need is a simple informational post, the best way to engage your consumers is by offering relevant or helpful information specifically for them. You can also engage them by replying to or liking their comments or posts. You will see the best results when you focus on sharing content that is of benefit to them rather than inundating them with your sales or marketing pitches.

Social selling is an effective way to engage your market, to position yourself as an expert in your industry, to outperform your competitors and to increase your profitability. When comparing the results of social selling to traditional marketing methods such as cold calling, it is becoming more and more obvious that social selling is the clear winner.

Melonie Dodaro is author of the No.1 international bestseller The LinkedIn Code and is the founder of Top Dog Social Media, an agency that helps businesses, sales teams and professionals use LinkedIn and social selling to boost their visibility, attract new customers and increase revenue. To learn more about Melonie visit