The consumerization of the enterprise has been driven by peoples’ enthusiasm for the apps that they use in their personal time. BYOD, or bring your own device, has also been a huge factor in the rapid adoption rate of mobile devices on corporate networks. Taken together, the two trends have meant that social media networks – Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, to name a few – have become a great way to not only market products and services, but to actually engage in social selling.

So, does this mean that only business-to-consumer companies can benefit from leveraging social media for social selling? Hardly.

Between websites, online forums and social media, among others – today’s B2B decision makers have unprecedented access to information, at their fingertips. In fact, it has given them the upper hand when dealing with companies. If they have the information about a product or service in advance, it means that they are generally looking to find the corporate partner that they can trust, at a price that is advantageous to them.

Often, the most overlooked word in any company / customer discussion is trust.

All successful brands have made it their core business to build trust with decision makers. In a consumer setting, you can see this with companies like Proctor & Gamble, Panera Bread, Apple and Starbucks – to name a few. In a business-to-business context GE, IBM, Amazon Web Services and Cisco have done the same thing. All of these organizations have products and services that their customers want to use, offered by companies customers trust.

In this new business environment where social media is rapidly becoming a key reference point for decision makers, developing trust continues to be paramount for success. It’s only the communications vehicles that have changed.

So how do you go about selling the right way within the social media context? Here are some starters:

Be a Sales Consultant

The number one rule of selling is listening to what customers need. It’s no different for social selling. Act as a trusted consultant rather than a pushy sales rep. The most successful sales people, in any industry, approach each prospect from a consultative standpoint. If you listen to what prospective customers are looking for, and social media makes that very easy to do, you can begin to provide them with information about your company and products that meets their needs.

Social Selling is One-to-One

Marketing departments are primarily geared toward marketing one-to-many. Communicating on social media feels like it is usually one-to-many. But in the social selling context it’s not. It is still one-to-one – with a whole lot of people “listening in.” It is imperative that when engaged in social selling, you are trying to meet the needs of a particular decision maker. You are not pandering to a crowd, showcasing your knowledge or flogging the company’s entire product line. You are there to answer the questions the prospect has asked, in a confident, professional manner. If you are professional and helpful, others will notice and seek your advice, help or products and services.

Be a Valuable Resource

Prospective customers come to the relationship with a great deal of knowledge about your products and services – as well as those of your competitors’. However, they don’t live and breathe the industry in the same manner than you do. Whenever you communicate with prospective customers, your purpose is to increase their trust in you and your organization. Do so by providing information you think they will find valuable, not just the latest product or service you are offering.

You may find that your company does not offer what the prospect needs at this time. Continue to act as a consultant and point them in the right direction or give them a warm handoff to someone you know can help them. By providing content that they want to consume at that moment–in-time, they will see that you understand their needs. Showing that you are striving to help, whether it immediately benefits you or not, further establishes trust.

Look To Take Your Relationship to the Next Level

At a point where you have had several meaningful exchanges with a prospective client, look to take the relationship to the next level – either via email or a phone call. The ultimate goal is to speak with them on the phone.

While it can be tempting to believe that you could close a prospective customer over a social media channel, the chances are extremely low. Consultants look to foster relationships built on trust, and that is impossible to do without speaking to someone. The social media domain is not conducive to intimacy – and that is something better handled over the phone.

Maintain Professionalism, No Matter What

Guess what, you are in sales – and not every prospective customer will buy from you. You may feel frustrated or embarrassed if you have invested time with a prospective customer and they chose not to purchase your product or service. They may have decided not to buy anything. They may have purchased from a competitor. And they might communicate about it via social media.

Maintain your professionalism and behave like a consultant. Do not say anything to or about a prospective customer that is negative in any manner. Doing so casts you and your organization in a bad light. Additionally, do not cut ties with your prospective customer. You never know where he or she will be in several months or years.

The prospective customer may end up buying your product or service in the future, in their current role or at another company. Keep in mind that the he or she may have not had the resources or the political clout to purchase your solution, and they will never let you know. But, they might have both in the future.