What’s all the hubbub about “social selling?” After all, selling has never been anything if not ‘social.’ Sellers have for the most part, relied on networking, referrals, and rapport building as a means to build relationships or at the very least, the credibility and trust needed to gain an appointment. What has changed, however, is the scale.

LinkedIn, for one, has greatly increased our ability to stay connected to former colleagues and friends, and to meet others that share connections or interests. LinkedIn has made socializing with extended networks a, well, socially accepted form of networking. Much as it is one of the best tools for the task, social selling isn’t just about using LinkedIn effectively.

Social SellingSocial selling should be thought of, in my humble opinion, as a means to discover, engage, and interact with potential prospects. Sellers have an opportunity like never before, to accomplish all three—with more prospects than we dared dream of at any prior time in history. And prospects have the opportunity to find us like never before. Prospects now have access to information about you, your company, and your products and they can, without much difficulty, learn what their friends, co-workers, and strangers think as well.

The scale both in terms of the amount of people sellers and buyers can interact with and the information they can discover and access is staggering. Factor in what many consider to be more B2C platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram and you can quickly feel awash in too much of a ‘good’ thing.

This Thursday, I’ll be co-presenting on DocuSign’s Webinar: 10 Ways to Utilize Social Selling in 2013 where you’ll learn 10 ways you can leverage social selling across your team. I, along with my co-presenters (Lori Richardson of Score More Sales, and Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing), will also share 10 tools you can use to make social selling a daily practice for your reps. You’ll walk away with 10 different ideas that can help your sales team be more effective, save time and close more deals. I hope you can join the more than 1200 people who have registered so far. (Register even if you can’t attend and you’ll get access to the recording).

Not to give away any of the great information we’ll be sharing on the webinar, I’ve outlined a few tips that will keep you sane, productive, and successful in your use of social selling.

  1. Make sure you’ve got an updated profile on LinkedIn. There are lots of great ideas about setting up your profile that trust me, you won’t think of on your own. Start building your network today and make sure you’re well represented.  (download my favorite ebook on the topic from The Bridge Group and Up Your TeleSales)
  2. Email is the number one communication tool used throughout the sales cycle–more than any other form of communication. Demand that your email system serves you better. You should have integrated access to social media information for fast research and the insight needed to create relevant and compelling messages.
  3. Social is ‘personal.’ Use tools that will help your messages (email and others) get seen, that humanizes you and sets you apart from your competition, and that entices your prospect to take the next step. I’ll be sharing my own favorite during the webinar.
  4. Social is not a waste of time. Social selling is no longer an option. Prospects expect you to have done your research, to make your interactions targeted and relevant, and to know what they do, who they compete against, and what’s important to them.
  5. Social Selling can suck the life out of your selling efforts—if you let it. The key is to do it intelligently and use smart tools. It’s imperative that you don’t drop ‘selling’ from the phrase ‘social selling.’ You’re not doing this to make buddies. You’re doing it to better serve prospects and earn their business before your competitors can.

Prospects demand and deserve personalized attention. That means sellers can no longer get by with a dialer and a list. Listen to and learn about your prospects using the vast resources of the Web and make sure they can find and learn about you. It’s never been easier to find prospects. The problem now, is how to engage prospects in a meaningful way against a flurry of competitors for both products and attention.

Author, Nancy Nardin is the foremost expert in sales productivity tools. As President of Smart Selling Tools, she consults with many of the top sales productivity software vendors as well as end-user organizations looking to select the right tools. Click to get Nancy’s What & When weekly digest with invitations to complimentary webinars and informative publications. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools or subscribe to her Tool Talk blog. Nancy can be reached at 916-596-3035. To schedule a free 30 minute consultation.