Social Selling – Why It Pays To Be Social

I am a believer and I've seen it pay dividends!

Let me start by clarifying I’m not an expert on social selling. There are countless gurus who have much more experience, followers and published best practices on the subject.

But when it comes to deciding whether social selling really works or is just a waste of time, I’m a believer that it does work. Here’s a bit more about my social journey and why I think that way…

I tend to gravitate to Twitter and LinkedIn although there are plenty of folks who use a number of other social media channels for professional networking related activities such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

There’s 3rd party evidence to support the benefits of social selling as well, such as this research from The Social Media and Sales Quota Survey: “72% of salespeople using social media as part of their sales process outperformed their peers and exceeded quota 23% more often”.

I started becoming active on social media about five years ago when I joined Qlik. At that time, I had just a few hundred LinkedIn contacts and had yet to really dabble with Twitter. I committed to beefing up my LinkedIn network to see if it would help me re-ignite old professional relationships and open doors for my new company and role. After a few direct messages to old contacts, I immediately discovered that most people would respond to a personalized LinkedIn message when they would typically ignore an email or phone call. Those early LinkedIn interactions yielded many meetings and jumpstarted one of my early sales with a customer interaction which started on LinkedIn. I became hooked on LinkedIn and continued to grow my network. LinkedIn has also been a great way for me to stay connected after meeting people and interacting with people who I’d regularly not get to communicate with given time constraints and geography. I’m still an active user today although I’m increasingly turned off from all the unwanted spam from recruiters and solicitors.

Does social selling really work? Here is some hard evidence that it does!

When it comes to Twitter, I was initially apprehensive and sided with many people who perceived it was all garbage and a waste of time. A few years ago, my curiosity in Twitter peaked and I started following some interesting and more experienced accounts. I found Twitter to be a good source for news, opinions and current trends. Once I started getting a few followers, I fell victim to a peer pressure competition raised by a work buddy. He challenged me on who could get 100 additional followers faster. So the game was on and I started sharing content and using Twitter as a way to advocate for my company while also letting people get to know me. I was surprised to see more people follow me as my Twitter volume increased and I was proud to beat by buddy in our friendly wager.

While I’m still learning and have a relatively small Twitter follower base compared to others, I’ve enjoyed some great experiences from Twitter. One recent example: I tweeted about an IoT analytics use case and a person from Germany sent me a direct message indicating their interest in learning more. A simple introduction from Twitter has now lead to a new opportunity at an enterprise customer. Twitter is a great way for friends, colleagues, and of course potential leads to get a better read on who you are, what your interests are and build an affinity for the things you say.

I’ll conclude with my Top 10 personal recommendations on what’s worked for me regarding social selling:

  1. Follow/connect with people: Focus on people you respect and ones who share good content. Unfollow those who you want to filter out!
  2. Experiment and learn: Play around with different techniques and see what works best for you.
  3. Have fun: Show your personality and don’t make it 100% business all the time.
  4. Leverage multiple channels: LinkedIn and Twitter work for me but consider others like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
  5. Don’t just follow: Also contribute by sharing/posting your own ideas and content.
  6. Stay active: Get in a routine – it could be just a few minutes a day during a coffee or lunch break.
  7. Be authentic: Don’t always just repeat what others say, be unique and genuine.
  8. Don’t spam: Nothing bothers me more than the direct message from someone who is simply soliciting their product or service with no idea about who I am and what interests me.
  9. Separate work from politics and religion: This is more of a personal pet peeve, but I get turned off by highly political or religious content on professional social media networks.
  10. Don’t expect miracles: Social media is good but it doesn’t replace traditional modes of selling such as face-to-face meetings.

What other tips, tricks, and best practices can you think of? Feel free to post them in the comments section below. You can also follow me on Twitter @msaliter and connect with me on LinkedIn Good luck social selling!


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