Last week, we published an article about the benefits of social selling, and why companies need to move past their reluctance to adopting the practice. Studies have shown that social selling can increase win rate, and revenue, yet there are still a significant number of companies that simply refuse to acknowledge the success of social selling. However what we didn’t talk about, are the specific and actionable steps that individuals can take to successfully craft an effective social selling campaign.

Simply knowing the benefits of this practice isn’t enough. If you were to dive in headfirst without careful planning, it’s likely, if not given, that your social selling campaign would fail immediately. You need to take time to identify the right channels, target the right users, and equip yourself with the right tools to succeed.

Fill your digital utility belt with the right social selling tools

After you’ve committed to the idea of social selling, it’s important to give yourself the tools to succeed with those users. You can’t just start tweeting or posting articles on LinkedIn and call it a day for social selling. You need to engage with people in your industry, and start becoming a recognizable authority. The first step to accomplishing that goal is to download the right prospecting tools.

For Twitter, PeerIndex, FollowerWonk, and ManageFlitter are great places to start narrowing down your target audience. Each service is similar in nature, and each allows you to search through Twitter profiles by keywords. If you’re looking to target CRM users, then create a list of different searches that would return that audience.

For LinkedIn, tools like Crystal, and Prospect Hive cover a range of prospecting features than can help you fine tune your outreach to individuals. With Crystal, you can perform a “personality test” on a user, which will help you “learn the best way to speak, work with, and engage the person” however you feel best. At its core, Prospect Hive is a fantastic prospecting tool that allows you to search LinkedIn profiles and get access to their email addresses. Neither of these tools will automatically create a lasting relationship between yourself and a prospect, but it will provide you with an avenue to reach the right people; the rest is up to you.

Kickstart your social selling by participating in Twitter chats and LinkedIn groups

While the tools above will be able to help you capture a vast majority of the prospects you want to reach, there will still be some people that you fail to connect with. Some accounts don’t have relevant bio information, and thus, wouldn’t come back in any searches for “CRM” or whatever demographic you want to target. They might have a significant number of conversations surrounding your specific topic, but without those keywords on their profile, they’re essentially invisible to you.

This is why something like a Twitter chat is so important. Take for example, Jordan Barta’s profile, who frequently begins conversations surrounding #SocialSelling, #ValueGiving, and contributes to the #SalesHackerChat every Tuesday. There are meaningful conversations happening in these global chats, and you can make real connections by participating in them.

The same is true for LinkedIn groups. If you’re interested in learning more about SaaS companies, you can join a professional network titled, Software as a Service – Group, which currently has over 90,000 members. Regardless of your specific interest, there will likely be a LinkedIn group for you, where you can meet, and interact with people from across the world, and develop business relationships in the process.

Emphasize relationship building

The biggest issue with the term social selling is that it’s slightly misleading. It sounds like you’re trying to make sales through social media. But as we know, it actually refers to “the process of researching, connecting, and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks”.

You must keep that definition firmly planted in the back of your mind throughout social selling. It’s paramount that you don’t inundate your social connections with articles about your product, or demo’s about your service. There are no “hard closing tactic[s]” during this process. Social selling “isn’t for reps seeking quick wins or a silver bullet. Salespeople have to be willing to put in the time and effort to engage with their target buyers on an ongoing basis, and even then, there’s no guarantee that their efforts will pay off.”