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The social savvy salesperson

Jennifer Reid, director at CommsCo, explores the role of the social savvy salesperson

When it comes to social media, we’re experiencing a virtual age of enlightenment across B2B businesses globally. As we saw with the social savvy CEO, the B2B c-suite may have been late to the party, but can now be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and all matter of other social channels.

It should come as no surprise, however, that sales people got there first, which means that there are plenty of old hat – or ‘new social savvy’ sales people as we like to think of them – taking advantage of the communication and networking opportunities provided by the social networks.

‘Social selling’ may well be one of the hottest phrases in the B2C market, but for B2B salespeople, social media is much more multifaceted. Unlike B2C, it’s rare an actual B2B sale occurs on social media. However, there are B2B pipelines being created and grown every second on social media, and the journey to closing the deal is apparent on Twitter, LinkedIn and via blogs a plenty.

How are they doing it?

So what is it that salespeople are doing differently from CEOs or marketing people on social media, and how exactly is it helping them in the job of selling?

The following list explains exactly what the best B2B salespeople are doing on social:

  1. They update their social networks frequently: Look at @BenThePCGuy, Microsoft’s retail sales and marketing director. He tweets frequently. And because he maintains a high number of Twitter followers, his Twitter feed is an effective broadcasting mechanism.
  2. They follow cold prospects on Twitter: On LinkedIn, following someone usually means that you have to have some sort of existing working relationship. On Twitter, the same rule does not apply. You don’t have to know people to follow them on Twitter, and a follow is not a huge commitment. Social savvy salespeople are using Twitter to follow new prospects as a first means of contact, and monitoring people on Twitter is a great way to spot trends and to identify the type of content that interests them.
  3. They create Twitter lists: Twitter lists are a great tool. Sales people are using them to group lists of relevant contacts so they can get a view of exactly what those contacts are saying all at once. As you can see, Ben has created lists that cover everything from reporters to technology publications. These are his public lists. He may well have a 'top prospects' private list.
  4.  They participate in LinkedIn groups: LinkedIn is a great place to do virtual networking and to identify what topics prospects are discussing. As an added bonus, many people post questions to LinkedIn groups, giving salespeople the opportunity to showcase their knowledge and help other companies free of charge.
  5. They use the search power of Twitter: People often forget that Twitter is completely searchable. But social savvy salespeople are using the site as a way to find people looking for products and services. If, for example, you type in 'help with outsourcing' your results may feature people who are looking for advice on outsourcing.
  6. They use social media to keep people up to date on company news: New and existing clients are unlikely to check your website daily, but they are likely to be on at least one social media channel each day. So use social media to broadcast your good news. This also includes using LinkedIn’s “Publish a post” blogging feature. LinkedIn posts may well get more traffic than blogs posted to your website.

These are only a few of the ways that social savvy salespeople are using social channels to support each stage of the sales cycle. As a sales person, you may also find that once you’ve set up your social channels and gained a good following, you can then begin to move prospects along a social media path. You may find that you identify prospects on Twitter and later connect on LinkedIn once the relationship is more established.

And if the relationship becomes strong, you may just find yourself with a new Facebook friend, which is surely a sign of end-to-end social selling success.