Social selling gets a bad rap because it’s often associated with sending too many messages to random people on social media channels.
In this article we’ll go over:
- What social selling really is...and what it’s not
- How to ensure it brings you sustainable results
- A social selling guide with examples you can use right now
What is social selling anyways?
Social selling is the process of searching for, qualifying, and reaching out to leads on social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Slack, Discord, etc.
But when you see the words “social selling”, something different probably comes to mind... spam.
That’s because using social media for sales can be done very badly and with the wrong goal.
Social selling is actually relationship building. You're simply warming up and qualifying your audience before you come to the selling step. For example...
Now that that’s clear, here comes the next important question for a sales rep.
Does social selling work?
Absolutely! But don’t just take our word for it, check out the results we got from the LinkedIn social selling example above.
Marouane's goal here was to reach out to leads that had commented on a specific LinkedIn post, and give them another resource he knew they would like.
But, let’s be real. As a sales rep, there are endless fad tactics you can try that won’t give you the ROI you’re looking for and you’re bound to be a little hesitant.
And while it’s true that failing at something leads to success in the long run, you still need to make your goals right now. So putting your money in new channels can be scary!
The truth is social selling might not be something that works for you, so as a sales rep or manager you need to do a short analysis before committing.
Here are a few things you can do to cut down this risk:
- Building your personal brand on the channels you’re using
So you can establish credibility + boost awareness for you and your company!
- Reaching prospects where they communicate best
So you can increase your response rates and save wasted time.
- Doing it in a way that builds relationships
So you can actually help your leads, not just make a sale.
To sum up this question, social selling for B2B companies works like a charm if: you can correctly identify the channels where your audience is present, then you reach out in a way that puts adding value first - sales second, and you build up enough credibility to become trustworthy on these channels.
And, if you set these guidelines for yourself, these are the kind of results you’ll get:
How to kill the social selling game
Okay, it’s time to connect the dots. You know what social selling is, and things to consider to make it work for your team. All that’s missing is some social selling best practices and actionable tips.
We’re finishing this article with our step-by-step guide to social media prospecting.
[Step 1] Determine what channels to use & how
You need to pick the channels that your audience is most likely to be active on, i.e. if your target audience is car club members living in the middle of Michigan, you shouldn’t be putting your resources into TikTok.
Keep in mind - picking what channels NOT to use is just as important as picking the right ones.
How do you do this?
Talk to your ideal customers
This can be a casual conversation over coffee, an official interview, community engagement, DMs, post comments, Reddit, really anything you want.
Talking to real clients is one of the most underrated sales resources! Just get in touch, you won’t regret it.
Go to these social channels & see if you can find your target audience
You can conduct a quick search based on job titles and filters to find your ICP, and then you need to go through your results to find the people that fit best based on things like their headline, current/past position, and mutual connections.
If these all look like they fit with who your best clients are, you know you’re on the right track.
Check out their activity
Next, you need to make sure they are really active on this channel. To do that, just click on someone in your search results, then scroll down their page to “see all activity”.
And based on all this info you got from customers + research, you should be able to figure out where they are comfortable making purchases on these channels.
For example, at lemlist our target audience is sales reps and managers, so we know that in terms of social channels, this audience is more likely to make purchases through LinkedIn DMs, but they like to build relationships through communities, Twitter, and LinkedIn engagement.
This is usually our go-to for engagement vs outreach 👇
Moral of the story: get to know your customers! You’ll save a lot of wasted time and money by narrowing it down to the channels and type of communication that work best for them.
[Step 2] Get your Social Media profiles ready
Imagine this. You’ve put in the work to define what channel will work best for your social selling strategy, you’ve narrowed down your audience, and you’ve crafted a personalized message to reach out with... but your social media profile is completely empty.
What message does this send to the people who click on your profile after getting the message? It definitely doesn’t instill trust.
Here are a few things you can do on this front. 👇
Get your camera ready 📸
You should set up your social media profile with a good picture of yourself. The sketchiest profiles online are those without a photo.
Make your profile come to life
Fill out some info to show that you are a real person!
If it’s LinkedIn, at the very least you need to fill out the headline, position, about info, and add some info about what you do. With other channels like Twitter and Instagram, this will be the bio.
This was only the start, but be sure you optimize your profile as best as you can!
[Step 3] Finding the right prospects
To start, connect with some people that fit into your target audience. This way when you get to the next step, actually posting, you have an audience that wants to hear what you have to say.
Social media channels like LinkedIn are perfect for finding people in your target audience because you can use filters to narrow it down.
Here are some good filters to help you in a classic LinkedIn search:
- Past company
- Current company
- Boolean search for their title (ex. “Growth” NOT “Manager”)
Look for signals
In addition to finding your target audience, you should also limit your search to people that will actually want to use your product and are at the right moment to buy.
Question - how many times have you been told “sorry, but we’re not in a position right now to purchase”? They are the perfect lead, and you fill their exact needs, but they just don’t have the budget at the moment.
Instead of trying to convince them you’re worth it, you should try looking for buying signals before you reach out so you are confident that they are in a position to buy.
This includes things like: companies that have recently raised funds, are hiring, or have recently grown their teams.
Because if a company is doing any of these things, it means that they are going to need tools to manage the changes they are going through. The tech stack you use for a team of 5 looks a bit different than a team of 60, right?
Other than buying signals, you can also increase your conversion rate by reaching out to people that are more likely to be interested in your product.
These signals are: they used to work for one of your current best clients, they follow your company’s social media pages, they are similar to your perfect ICP.
Finding this info might not be totally evident, but LinkedIn searches will be your best bud in this situation.
[Step 4] Building your personal brand
Yah yah yah, I can see your eyes rolling now. But here’s the thing, in the last year we’ve made around $1M in revenue thanks to our personal brands only.
How can you replicate this model?
Start posting valuable content
Your best bet is to share content according to your leads’ needs & the problems you solve.
Think: What is the thing you do best that your audience struggles with?
Here's an example post from Simon about our "Master the art of cold emailing" ebook. With 531 likes and 490 comments, Simon just killed it.
Check out this example from one of my personal copywriting favs on Twitter:
Neither requires a subscription or purchase, just adding as much value as possible.
So, pick 2 or 3 subjects that you rock at and that your target audience needs help with, and focus on creating valuable content around that without asking for anything in return.
Plus, don't worry about likes and comments. They are built over time. And on top of that, the way the LinkedIn algorithm works is just one meaningful like from a relevant person can be a game-changer.
Share personal experiences
Here’s the thing about sales: in the end, people connect with people. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the B2B sales market, you are selling to a person.
This is why you need to be human in your posts! Your posts should be split between what I like to call hard value (aka a resource) and soft value (aka a personal experience).
Take Nadja for example, other than posting multichannel outreach tips, she also shares info about being a manager of a sales team, remote work life, and being a (boss) woman in sales.
So, pick 2 or 3 subjects you want to focus on for your LinkedIn content strategy. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just start somewhere!
Analyze your results
After you’ve been building your network and posting for a month or so, it’s time to check out what works and what doesn’t.
Try doing things like looking at who is seeing your posts, what content gets the most valuable comments, and which posts evoke messages from people.
And always remember: your goal is to convert your audience, but also to build great relationships!
[Step 5] Engage on prospects' content
This point is so underrated in social selling strategies! Social selling is all about creating real relationships, so starting out with a direct message can seem weird.
Instead, connect with your prospects by reading their posts and adding valuable comments. This way you’ll get your name and face out there, but in a way that helps your leads.
And when you do this, you’re also increasing your chances that other people in your target audience will connect with you, because they also see your valuable comment.
Here's a cool way to do it combined in your outreach sequence.
Create a google/excel sheet with all of your leads and their info. The columns will act as custom tags when you import your sheet, so keep things in mind like firstName, tiramisu/icebreaker, companyName, etc.
Then, add a column with their social media profile link, export this sheet as a CSV file, and upload to your sales tool.
Just like that you can use their social media profile link as a custom tag, so when you’re blocking out time for social selling this process runs much smoother.
And this strategy for social selling works very well on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook!
[Step 6] Join relevant communities
Okay, open up another tab and split your screen. In this tab, type a community website that your leads are present on.
This can be Slack, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Discord, etc. Pick the one where your prospects are the most active!
Now, search for keywords related to what you do. For example, if you are an agency helping clients with cold email, you might look for something like a B2B sales community, or even specifically cold email communities.
And if you are trying to help entrepreneurs scale their businesses, you’ll look for something like a growth hacking community.
Try to pick around 10 of these, and join the communities. Then spend a while trying to get an idea of what people usually post about, and the type of engagement they are looking for.
Next? Start commenting and posting valuable content for this community. Solve their problems without asking for anything.
You’ll generate some super qualified leads this way! Plus, if leads from other social media sites are also present in these communities you’ll get two different social touch points.
Just one small clarification - if you’re trying to deliberately sell your product through these communities you’re going to get kicked out very fast.
[Step 7] Send multichannel outreach campaigns
If you use all the methods we mentioned above, you should start to generate leads coming to you after 1-3 months (depending on your commitment).
But you can increase your chances by reaching out, and you should continue the thread of trying out different channels.
You can add things like:
- Linkedin profile visits
- Comments on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn posts
- LinkedIn messages
So, when you get to the channels at the end like messages, emails, and calls, your outreach is warmer and you know the prospect is more likely to respond.
Let's see what this looks like in action...
So the first 5 steps of this sequence are dedicated just to building the relationship through the channels our leads are most active on: LinkedIn and Twitter.
This can be done with any of the engagement tactics we mentioned earlier, like communities and post engagement, and you can link it through a URL so you can get your work done from one dashboard.
Then, we start using email when we want to send messages with more info. And of course we included all the essentials: personalization, relevancy - "why me", value for the lead, and a casual ask to talk.
But as you very well know, email inboxes get a bit out of control at times, so we added another channel to send a reminder and try them to see if they prefer talking there.
And the remaining steps will follow-up (with added value) and then to notify the lead that they won’t be reaching out anymore + a way to contact them.
So you’re building your relationship, adding the context of why you’re reaching out, making sure you are on the channel that works best for them, and then wrapping it up with clear steps on how they can contact you. Perfecto 👌
And these are the results we get with these kinds of sequences:
This was just a brief review of a sequence, but there are tons of other multichannel examples that work well with social selling.
Of course, we're using lemlist to send multichannel outbound campaigns. If you wanna test it out and see how they perform for you, set up your account in seconds.
Build actual relationships - no spamming allowed
This is the section that’s going to make everything you saw before actually work, so don’t skip out on it!
There is nothing worse than feeling bombarded in your DMs.
When this happens, it’s because they forgot one key aspect of building a relationship: adding value. Chances are that if you were annoyed it’s because they hadn’t done anything to gain your trust, so when they went in for the ask it felt unnatural.
BUT if they had sent you a really useful resource that you would get a lot of value out of based on conversations/engagement you had, this entire experience would have been totally different.
See the difference?
Because by sending you this, they show you that:
- They do high quality work
- They are on your side
And if they are asking to meet and take a look at what they’re offering, it’s because they really know you and know it will help!
Final tip here: Look at some social selling outreach examples before crafting your sequences!
Alrighty roo, these were our best social selling tips for you! When it all comes down to it, it will be a lot of trial and error.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to focus on your leads and their needs: the channels that work best for them + content that’s going to help them the most! After that, you’ll just need to monitor your results and adjust as needed.
Happy social selling!