Social selling doesn’t come easy. It’s a grind. It’s a long-term strategy that requires a daily commitment before the results start to become clear and most companies don’t have the patience to see things through until they get to that point. To be clear: if you want to see social selling success, you have to expect to work consistently on engagement for 3-4 months. Not that you won’t see any change before then. But social selling is all about building relationships and that simply doesn’t happen overnight. If you want random clicks to your website, go and buy Google ads. But if you want prospects calling you, build these relationships first. So, be patient and give it time.
That’s what makes developing a reliable social selling strategy so difficult for many companies — the commitment required to fulfill your goals means a shift in mindset for most companies and sales professionals. It’s the proverbial slow-burn of sales strategies. In many ways the practice goes against a lot of the boiler-room type atmospheres that became so popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, leading to a generation of sales professionals that need to shift the way they look at the selling process to find success in social selling.
Social selling relies on developing genuine relationships to generate sales. 81% of consumers would prefer to engage with sellers that have a strong brand on social media. Well, genuine relationships don’t happen overnight. You plant a seed. Then you water that seed for weeks or months, and eventually, it grows into a mature plant that blooms. If you try to pick the flowers before they bloom, you’ll have nothing to show for it.
To get to that point, you’ll need to make a lot of small advancements within each individual relationship. Some will develop faster than others. But all relationships will require that you engage with prospects over time to develop a bond. Those small advancements on a daily basis eventually add up into a network that helps you to produce a reliable stream of sales for your company and can continually be used to your advantage for years to come.
That is where the disconnect lies for many companies that are on the fence about social selling. It’s less of a sales tactic and more of an investment in your future. For sales professionals, the relationships that they develop through social selling will last them throughout their careers, regardless of where they work. For the companies that employ the strategy, social selling helps to build awareness and creates a reliable referral network that could produce sales for years to come.
In this article, we’ll cover all of the small steps that social sellers should take every day to grow their network, develop genuine relationships with prospects, and foster a reliable lead generation network. In total, these tasks should take you 30 minutes - 1 hour to complete, depending on whether you complete every task or the number of actions you take each day. Some of these tasks can be pushed to every other day or several times per week and don’t always need to be daily activities.
#1) Find Prospects
Richardson’s yearly sales study has continually found that prospecting is one of the biggest challenges that most sales teams face. Keeping your relationship pipeline loaded with new prospects is critical. In social selling, the relationships that you develop will all be in different stages at any given time.
A few might be ready to buy at any given time. Others are getting closer but need further nurturing before they are at that point. Others will be in the very beginning stages of the relationship and still developing trust for you as a person and a brand. Occasionally, relationships will wallow and drop off as prospects lose interest or you learn that perhaps you weren’t such a good fit for each other.
You should be continually working to reach out to people and begin that process to keep your pipeline filled. Even if you just identify one new person per day, that gives you a consistent stream of new people to talk to. Finding prospects can be done through search or simply by reaching out to them.
#2) Send Personalized Connection Requests
When you find prospects that seem to be a good fit, the next step is to send them a personalized connection request. Remember — these people receive blank or automated connection requests all the time. 82% of buyers say they take meetings with people that reach out to them. Your goal is to stand out. That is why personalization is so important. They have to know that you were checking out their profile and found a real reason to connect. It’s the simplest and most immediate way to stand out from the competition.
#3) Start New Conversations
Once you connect with people, make sure you stay on top of starting conversations with them. It’s fine to start slow and take your time. But you need to make sure that you are at least starting a dialogue with everyone that you connect with, even if the conversation doesn’t seem to go anywhere at first. At the beginning of a relationship, your goal is simply to get on their radar. For many, simply asking them a question about their business will help you to stand out from the crowd and get them interested.
Social selling is all about turning cold leads into warm leads through relationship building and warm conversations. Studies have shown that cold leads close at a rate of about 1.7%, far below leads that have a bit of familiarity with your business. Putting in the time to take new leads from cold or warm is an art, but one that will pay off over time.
#4) Build Connections by Engaging in Public Conversations
Sending personalized connection requests isn’t the only way to get on people's radars. You should take time every day to engage in a public conversation on your feed, even if its a single comment that you leave about a given topic. This will help to get you in front of people that might be interested in your product or service and build awareness among your targeted audience. Try to target conversations that are started by influencers to expand your reach and get your brand in front of new people.
#5) Share High-Quality, Relevant Content
The trust that you develop with your prospects comes not only from the conversations that you have with them, but also from the expertise that you display in your public social media activities. Sharing high-quality, relevant content that speaks to their biggest questions and concerns helps to position you as a reliable source of information on the subjects that you are supposed to know about. Sharing high-quality content can be automated in your own social media posts, but you should also seek out opportunities to drop content links into conversations on the social networks that you participate in.
#6) Share Posts by Prospects
People notice when you help them extend the reach of their own social media posts. It’s a great way to signal to a person that you agree with what they are saying and find what they have shared valuable. Keep an eye out for opportunities to share posts by your prospects to help improve awareness and lay some bricks toward building of your relationship. Simple engagements can go a long way in the eyes of your prospects.
#7) Monitor Important Prospects
Some prospects are simply more worthwhile than others. If you know the 20/80 rule — which contends that 20% of your customers will drive 80% of your revenue — you know that every prospect is not made equally. Prospects that have a higher revenue ceiling warrant more attention from you. For those prospects, you should set aside a moment or two every day to monitor their social media presence and identify opportunities for engagement with them. You could join a conversation they are having, share content that is relevant to something they shared, or just “like” something that they have posted.
If you fail to monitor your most important prospects, you’ll miss important opportunities to engage with them. Those are opportunities that may never come around again. Limit your list of “important” prospects, but use it as a guide for how you spend your time on social media.
#8) Nurture Warm Prospects
While you don’t have to connect or send something to each prospect every single day, it is important to monitor the prospects that you are currently nurturing and identify opportunities to share new materials or respond to conversations.
Nurturing is a crucial aspect of social selling, particularly when we are talking about hot prospects, who will need consistent attention from you to comfortably make their way through your sales pipeline. Hot prospects in social selling can be defined as anyone that you see as a potential fit for your product or service that is showing consistent interest in what you have to say.
To nurture them, you can send them high-quality content that is relevant to the conversations that you have had with them or simply open a new dialogue about a tangentially related subject. Take the time to personalize each message. The goal is to have genuine conversations during the nurturing process, not to walk the prospect through some sales script. Nurturing should continue long after the sale as well, but only 29% of brands nurture existing customers beyond their initial purchase.
According to a study from HubSpot, improving nurturing practices is one of the biggest priorities for companies.
#9) Schedule Future Updates
While a lot of your social selling activity should be conducted by hand, there are some areas of your social presence that you can automate safely, and future posts are one of those areas. Ensuring that you are sharing content consistently is an important part of social selling. To aid you in that effort, you should automate the sharing of high-value content, insightful posts, and event-specific types of information.
Of course, you shouldn’t automate every post that you make. Doing some off-the-cuff posts allows you to react and respond to current events and keep your account looking fresh and engaged. People can tell when a social media account is completely automated, and that’s an impression that we want to avoid.
#10) Participate in Private Groups
Some of the most interesting interactions that you will ever have as a social seller will take place outside of your public feed. By joining private groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and even other platforms like Slack, you can cut down on a lot of the noise and network with people that are actively looking to connect, just like you. Identifying a handful of private groups to pay attention to and monitoring those groups for discussion opportunities can be a simple way to get started.
#11) Build Your Own Group
As a social seller, your goal is to position yourself as an expert within your field. While you can do that by sharing publicly on social networks, creating your own private group allows you to have more control over the interactions that you have with prospects. Building your own Facebook group positions you as the leader in the subject that you have chosen. Your members will come to you for advice and guidance while contributing to conversations within the group.
One important thing to understand is that building your own Facebook group takes a lot of time and dedication. Appropriately moderating a group will take more than 30 minutes of your day alone, once your group becomes active. It also takes a long time to convince people to sign up and participate. Make sure that you have the time to dedicate to that task.
#12) Find Opportunities to Engage with Influencers
Influencers will have a reach on their platform that far exceeds your own. Keeping an eye on influencers that have an audience that closely aligns with your own and monitoring their activity for opportunities to engage can be a great way to get in front of your target audience. Of course, ideally, you’d like to have an influencer mention you or engage with you directly.
49% of people on social media have purchased something based on influencer recommendations. While that’s a nice goal, it’s important to remember that they are busy people with a lot of people vying for their attention. Any conversion that can you take part in on their posts is better than not engaging at all.
#13) Work on a New Blog Post
Having a consistent stream of content that you’ve published that you can share with your prospects is extremely helpful in social selling. 53% of marketers say that blogging is their top content priority. But putting together a valuable blog post that provides true insight on a subject within your industry requires hours to put together.
Spreading out the time that you dedicate on writing to several different days can be an effective way to make the task seem less cumbersome and improve the likelihood that you finish. On slow social media days, dedicating 20-30 minutes to writing can be a great way to ensure that you make solid progress on that next piece of content to share with your following. Remember — 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Content is critical for those initial nurturing stages.
#14) Check Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags are the most effective way to sift through public discussions on any social network. By clicking on, or searching for a hashtag in the search bar, you can identify new prospects, take part in relevant discussions, and put your expertise on display for a highly targeted audience. Overlooking the importance of identifying these micro-communities and using them to your advantage is a huge mistake that many make when they first start with social selling. Those that are discussing and asking questions about the subject that you are an expert in, giving you the perfect platform for adding value and putting your experience on display.
#15) Take a Quick Look at Metrics
I try to discourage our clients from keeping an eagle eye on their metrics every single day. Keep perspective and keep the big picture in mind. Even when the numbers are pointing down for a short time, you can still be on the right track overall. It is definitely undesirable to get stuck following them every day. It can be discouraging to take a look at your numbers and not see them moving in the direction that you’d like swiftly enough. Maybe you’re experimenting with the style of content you want to use. Maybe it’s just a week full of holidays. Social media statistics are not easy to predict and can be influenced by many factors. Still, it is important to take a quick look and see that you are making progress. Don’t get too caught up in monitoring them, but make sure that you do take a look every so often.
Break Down Social Selling Tasks for Success
At its core, social selling is about completing a series of tasks like the ones laid out in this article. In the end, they all come together to help you get your product in front of your ideal customers and build fruitful relationships that help you to sell the product.
Too often, we get caught up in the overall sales that our social selling efforts have generated. Early on in the process, you’ll be hard-pressed to recognize the impact that the strategy has had on your business. By connecting your social selling goals to specific tasks, you ensure that you consistently take action on a daily basis. Using the tasks outlined in this article can help you to define those tasks and create a daily schedule for your social selling strategies.
Are there are other social selling tasks you do on a daily basis? Comment below and tell us what tasks are paying off for your business.