Social selling is a hot topic in today’s social media crazed world. In fact, according to The State of Inbound 2018, 28% of respondents stated that social selling with a top priority for sales for next year.

Top sales priorities from Hubspot research

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Furthermore, while cold calling is still a prospecting strategy that should be in a salesperson’s arsenal, it shouldn’t be the go-to way of getting leads into your funnel.

According to Harvard Business Review, cold calling is pretty ineffective with 90% of C-suite executives saying they don’t respond to cold calls.

On the flipside, 78% of salespeople that use social media are able to outsell their peers.

The problem is, using social media to aid in the sales process can leave more traditional sales teams scratching their heads as they try to navigate their way through all of the available social platforms.

Social selling is simpler than it seems, though. Basically, it takes traditional strategies for connecting and bonding with existing and potential clients into the social media sphere. All the relationship building that once took place exclusively at trade shows, business lunches, and over the phone can now also happen via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social platforms.

Salespeople are always looking for shared experiences with their clients and luckily, there is often some coincidental similarity to build a relationship around, whether it’s a common favorite team, the same hometown, or a love of cats.

This age old technique of building trust with clients through shared interests translates beautifully to social selling. With sophisticated analytics, it’s even possible to discover precise demographic information about your audience and respond accordingly.

While social selling indeed uses sales tactics that have been around since the beginning of selling, there are some key ideas to keep in mind to really maximize the power of social selling.

Socialize First, Sell Second

It’s tempting to post every product and promotion online and focus on the business side of things.

However, to be successful with selling on social media, it’s all about taking a soft approach to the sales process. This means engaging your audience on a social level to build authentic relationships. Doing so will allow you to build rapport with your intended audience which will allow you to build trust and be seen as an authority. In turn, this will make your audience much more receptive to harder sells in the future.

To start building a strong relationship with your intended audience, you should create content that appeals to their interests. The appeal of campaigns that are geared more towards social sharing than they are towards selling will build your audience quickly.

The best way to build out your content strategy is to see how your target audience engages with your content as well as the content of your competitors. See which posts can the most comments and shares.

You can then use this knowledge to build out a wiki or a knowledge base containing topics that should be used to generate engaging content to share as well as to reside on your site in case prospects are looking for more information.

By taking the time to gather knowledge in this way, you’ll be able to build out a more personalized content strategy that connects better with your intended audience.

Use Analytics Tools To Dig Deeper

As mentioned, it’s important to build out content that connects with your audience in an effort to help you build a relationship.

You should make use of analytics to help you discover precise interests and behaviors in an effort to better understand your buyer personas.

A quick glance can show you age, gender, and location, but a closer look can show you how many followers like cats and how many like sports, for example.

Use this data to improve your social selling campaigns that resonate with your audience and build connections.

Learn More About Your Prospects

Go ahead and Google your potential client before a sales call.

Check out their LinkedIn profile and learn a couple of facts to bond over.

It’s a common practice today that’s really no different than asking colleagues about a client before a meeting. People appreciate that you know their company won an award and will be pleased that you also like ice fishing. Even if you just found out that information in a couple of clicks on Facebook, it will go a long way to building rapport.

Pick Your Social Networks Carefully

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Technology changes so quickly, and new social media platforms pop up every day. Don’t just put blinders on and plug away at making connections via LinkedIn because that’s where you’re comfortable. Explore new platforms where your target audience hangs out as well.

However, don’t try to sell on so many platforms that you get burnt out and serve a watered down or insincere campaign. Pick a platform or two that you find exciting and excel there.

Just remember to keep your eyes open for new platforms and campaigns, too.

Be Visually Appealing

People spend hours a day scrolling through social media feeds, so it’s likely that pure text campaigns won’t catch the attention of your potential clients.

Get in the habit of disrupting any mindless scrolling by adding an eye-popping visual to your posts or varied font sizes and formats that will capture and engage.

Using visuals with your social media posts

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Keep in mind that whatever your attention-grabbing technique, it should be consistent with your own and your brand’s image. With the whole sales process moved to the web, you can no longer dress to impress or smile over the phone.

Instead, you need to design your campaigns as you would your appearance before a sales presentation or meeting. Stick with a single font, your company colors, a common wording style, and other subtle brand indications.

The beauty of social selling is that a company can do the work of dozens of cold calls and business lunches with a click or two. Harness the power of social media connections to rapidly build relationships and sales.